FROM THE BISHOP’S INBOX: Is Legalism “Christian”?

A friend today asked my opinion on a list of the legalistic rules of a local ‘church’. It was a list of DON’Ts:

DON’T Drink, DON’T smoke, DON’T dance, DON’T watch R-rated movies, DON’T wear short sleeves or short skirts, Men DON’T have long hair, Women DON’T have short hair, DON’T miss a Sunday in our pews, DON’T EVER, Ever, ever miss the offering plate (no matter how many times it goes by!

MY REPLY:

Think about it this way:

If I make a list of all the things you can and can’t do, and judge you on your adherence to that list… how do YOU mature spiritually?

Tight rules are sometimes necessary. E.g. – ministries dealing with addicts.

But the goal is THEOSIS: “Growing in Christlikeness”. Theosis takes place as we mature in The Faith.

Such “Authoritarian” (Hmmm… “Legalistic?”, maybe even “Repressive?”) congregations are merely trading one bondage for another!

Treating congregants like untrustworthy children leads to a congregation of untrustworthy children: people striving for the minimums, seeking the approval of their Pastors rather than Our Lord! {See 1 Corinthians 3:1-3}

I’m not suggesting that Christians should be “anything-goes” hedonists. Heaven forbid!

We must seek Holiness in conjunction with our theosis, based upon a loving desire to please Our Lord. We are called to “Be Holy for {Christ} is Holy.” {Leviticus 20:26/1Peter 1:16} , for “Without Holiness no man will see The Lord.” {Hebrews 12:14}. The desire for Holiness does NOT come from fear of congregational condemnation! It comes from our deepest, most sincere desire to please The Lord!

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