Category Archives: legalism

legalism

Labor Day, Legalism, etc.

Well, here we go with the holidays. Today is Labor Day , and it won’t be long before every other holiday will be upon us.  Along with all of these special days will come all sorts of arguments for and against their observance.  Some will make more sense than others, but lurking around every corner is the temptation to be legalistic.  How is that possible? Simple…just accuse somebody else of being worldly or less spiritual for celebrating a certain day over another.  They did it in the Bible.

For the record, however, I believe that some holidays are worth debating.

Labor Day, for instance, is a holiday that was founded by the unions, which in turn were founded by those with “collective” and “progressive” ideologies.  From a purely ideological perspective, the whole holiday is one in which the worker is supposed to feel free to flip a relaxed finger in the face of evil, greedy, imperialistic corporations and fat rich people and say, “This is my day! No profit for you!”  Essentially, our Labor Day was designed to be a watered-down version of International Workers Day (the Communist May Day holiday).  So, is there anything wrong with standing up for workers’ rights?  Absolutely not.  Is there room to evaluate the intent of some who would move our nation down the path of socialism? You betcha!

If one wanted to see the similarities, he would have to look no further than the Communist symbol of the “raised fist” and the claim that “the workers” are what made our country great (not freedom, democracy, or capitalism).  

However, my purpose here is not to bash Labor Day; it’s to encourage us not to be legalistic. Just like Labor Day, there are other days approaching (Halloween, for example) which cause many to cringe.  Sour-faced legalists will complain about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but a lot of others will use the holidays to be with family, give thanks to God, and celebrate Jesus’ birthday (even if it wasn’t in December).  The legalists should keep in mind Paul’s words to the Romans:

Romans 14:5-6  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

I am taking advantage of this holiday, whether I am for the idea behind it or not.  Why?  Well, I can’t exactly go to work today, since everything is closed.  Also, it is because I know that there are a great many Americans who only associate this day with God, freedom, and apple pie (not mention hot dogs, hamburgers, and adult beverages).  Most people in this country are just good people who love America.  So, regardless what the Communists (including BLM and Antifa) may have in mind, I am going to celebrate America and the average guy who worked his rear off to make this country great.

God Bless America!

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Living, General Observations, legalism, World View

When you hear the sound of the trumpet…

Nearly seven years ago (Oct. 28, 2010) I wrote the following post. Now that a new school year is upon us – and now that I’m actually pastoring in Soddy Daisy, TN, it seems appropriate to be reminded of some some things that are as true today as they were back then.


Last night (10/28/2010) I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20. Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:19-20 NKJV

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.  Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at a lot of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there? Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  

Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers who weren’t part of a particular denomination.  

Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s (the local steak house) or the bowling alley.  

Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others who did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem, it wasn’t their idea, or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters who cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  

In the future, when other trumpets sound,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defense of the few walls we have left in this nation… a nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for ourselves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

Leave a comment

Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, World View


Guest-Post Gamble

As most of you know, I have been making use of guest posts for the last several weeks in order to free up some time during preparation for a move. For the most part, all of the posts submitted by guest authors have been well-written pieces with acceptable content (content that doesn’t conflict with my personal beliefs).

However, just the other day I received a guest post from a blogger friend who has a different take on a particular teaching. His view is that the gift of speaking in tongues (languages unknown to the speaker), as mentioned in the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians, is still applicable and important for verifying the validity of one’s personal faith.

But here’s the thing: I don’t believe that. Shocker?

So, I had a discussion with the contributor of the post and stated that if I published his work without any clarification, there might be some confusion and unwanted repercussions.  Essentially, to publish his post without a caveat would be a big gamble on my part.

Therefore, I have decided to try something… a guest post open discussion on the topic of speaking in tongues.

Loose Your Tongues

Let us have a discussion on the topic of glossalalia (i.e., “speaking in tongues”) within the church. If you have a particular view, why not share it? The only thing I will not permit is attacking each other.

The first post on the topic is going to be the one submitted by David Fuller: “Tongues and the Church Today.” David is not a cessasionist (cessationist = one who believes the gift of tongues has ceased), consequently he will be arguing that the gift of tongues is still alive and well, even under-used.

The next post will come from me, and that post will be a treatment of 1 Corinthians 14:4, the verse where Paul talks about self-edification. That post will be argued from the perspective of a near cessasionist (nearly 100%, but not quite…more like 98%). I’ve yet to write it, but it will be done soon.

After that, I would love to publish more posts from other bloggers willing to enter the discussion. All I ask is that you focus on good scholarship to support your understanding, not attacks on those with different beliefs. The posts will publish as regularly as you submit them.

How This Fits My Blog

You might be wondering, “Why do this?” I mean, why bring up a topic with so much potential for hurting feelings or exposing differences and inconsistencies within the Church? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

  • We don’t all have to agree on secondary issues to be family
  • Open and honest dialogue helps to clear up confusion, not create it.
  • Atheists use our differences to bolster their argument against Christianity; therefore, it benefits the Church and the Gospel to demonstrate how followers of Christ can differ on certain non-essential doctrines and still remain connected by the fundamental and primary doctrines of the faith.
  • An open discussion of this topic will help to combat the legalistic tendencies we all have to lessen the spirituality of others as we judge them through the lenses of our own particular beliefs.

A Challenging Challenge

So, before I publish the first post in this open-ended series, let me issue a challenge to you all (or y’all, if you’re here in the South). When you submit your views on the subject/doctrine of speaking in tongues, remember to exhibit grace.

For example, if you don’t believe the gift of tongues is still in effect, that’s fine, but try to find a way to say something positive about those with whom you disagree. The goal of this series of posts is not to offend, but to build up and encourage each other as we seek to better understand Scripture.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. – Philippians 2:1-2

6 Comments

Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Christian Unity, Guest Posts, legalism, Theology

Christian Tyranny

The following is a guest post by David Robert Fuller. David blogs at Christian Consciousness, so go check out his stuff…but only after you read this and share your thoughts in the comment section. There’s a lot worth discussing in this post, the least of which is his use of periods and quotation marks 😉 First let’s talk Christian tyranny, then we can see who’s a grammar Nazi.


Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. – Galatians 2:4,5

I am concerned about one of my Christian brothers. He is a prominent member of my church, well known to everyone in the congregation. He says that he loves the Lord and is devoted to the Faith, yet he seems to experience some profound struggles in his Christian walk. It is not his struggles which most concern me, however, nor is it the fact that despite all the special consideration given him by his fellow Christians, no one seems to have a desire to see him grow beyond his spiritually immature state. What concerns me most is that I have the distinct impression that he doesn’t want to grow. He seems content to maintain a state of affairs in which he can play the role of a kind of Christian tyrant.

If there is a sin, this man struggles with it. Lust, drunkenness, immorality, drugs, gambling, smoking, swearing, and even occult practices are among the things that littered the former life of this dear brother. And he is apparently having an extremely hard time excluding these things from his life as a Christian, since everything he sees or hears reminds him of one or more of these things. He just can’t get away from it all. What’s worse, when he’s reminded of his former life, instead of being filled with the joy of his deliverance, he is rather filled with a desire to return to the very things he supposedly hates!

This unfortunate state of affairs has caused him to create a situation for himself similar to the famous “boy in the bubble”, who, due to the weakness of his immune system, was forced to spend every moment of his life within the confines of an artificial environment. In much the same way, this brother has devised a system for filtering out “impurities” and allowing only that which is “pure”.

For instance, all “secular” media is harmful to him. He can only be exposed to “Christian” music, television, magazines, books, and the like. He frequents only those events which are spiritually “edifying” (church functions mostly), and limits his business dealings to Christian merchants whenever possible. He cultivates friendships with Christians exclusively, since “bad company corrupts good character”. Even some “Christian” elements are filtered out, because they have the “appearance of evil”. He is very careful, because he knows that “…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

The upshot of all this is that special procedures must be observed by all those around him to avoid unintentionally short-circuiting his filtering system, which is so elaborate that it cannot be maintained by himself alone. This is where the tyranny starts.

I call it tyranny for three reasons.

First, tyrants manipulate facts to support their own cause. This is done by forcing others to conform to his standards by repeatedly quoting a couple of verses in the New Testament, which he conveniently takes out of context. He tells them that Romans 14:21 forbids them to do anything which he finds “offensive”, and 1 Thess. 5:22 prohibits anything that even “appears” to be evil, ignoring the fact that “…to the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1;15), or that Jesus Himself commands us not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24).

Second, tyrants typically impose fear on other people. This is accomplished by saying it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck, than to make him stumble; in effect, threatening their eternal life if they don’t do what he wants,when he knows that “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12).

Third, tyrants are self-serving. While they usually claim to serve some nebulous “greater good”, in this case “the things which make for peace”, it is really only an excuse they use to bully others into bowing to their own personal self-interests, however good and right they may believe those self-interests to be.

While I repeat my concern for this brother, let me hasten to add that I have serious reservations about passing judgment on someone whom I don’t personally know. I have never personally met this man, although he has been a church member for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t even know his name, because no one ever uses it when referring to him; maybe it’s because they don’t know his name either. Usually, everyone refers to him as, “the Weaker Brother”.

 

© 2017 David Robert Fuller

 

3 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, legalism

Building 429 Meets My Judgmentalism, Then Gets an Apology

The following post was first published in 2011, yet it is definitely worth revisiting. If you have not read this post, what it depicts is a perfect example of why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Even now I cringe when I recall my judgmental, legalistic actions 6 years ago. But God’s grace doesn’t force immediate change; we grow in grace.

Some take longer than others.


The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now, here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorites…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it.

Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will someday give this preacher some hair like yours.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 


UPDATE: Shortly after this post was first published, Building 429 posted a link to it on their Facebook page. A little later we exchanged a few emails in which they graciously accepted my apology. I offered to buy them dinner the next time they came through town, but Jason Roy (lead singer) said that wouldn’t be necessary – then he offered me free tickets the next time they came to town! Cool, huh? But I never took him up on it – we just bought them, anyway.

Here is a more recent video from Building 429, “Unashamed.”

7 Comments

Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

It’s All About Being “Real”

The Following was written six years ago in May, 2011. Sort of a “squeeze” from the past 😉


Have you ever been completely spent? Worn out? Empty? I have. As a matter of fact, I woke up this morning feeling like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste.

Yesterday was a great day. I was blessed to be able to preach in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. The only problem is that when you go all day, preaching your heart out, by the end of the day you’re exhausted. When I got up to drive the school bus, I looked at that tube of toothpaste and said, “That’s me.”

Over the next couple of hours a thought came to me: how can you tell when a tube of toothpaste is empty? Usually, it is flat and rolled up. The compacted tube shows evidence that all of its contents have been used – there’s nothing left. Then what about the hard, stand-up kind?

These new containers for toothpaste are deceiving. Unlike the old-fashioned tubes, they do not compact and show any visible signs of being empty. They always look full. Then it hit me – what hypocrites! Those new-fangled containers are just putting on a show and never give any hint of being used up. In other words, they’re not “real.”

I want to be “real.”

This is not a lesson on hypocrisy. This is not a lesson on being a whitewashed tomb full of dead men’s bones. This is about being “real.”

Too often, especially in ministry, we are forced to put on a façade, thereby making ourselves appear to be something we’re not. It’s not meant to be hypocritical. It is meant to spare others from the truth of our own inadequacies – our own emptiness. Sadly, because we don’t want to be a burden or a disappointment, we endure the emptiness…the loneliness…the fatigue. Being “real” is risky.

There are limits to how much dirty laundry a pastor can air in public without losing his ministry. There are limits to how vulnerable he can be around others. But may it never be said that we have to pretend to be something we are not. We are human. We have weaknesses. We have limitations. We can feel “used up.”

Fortunately, unlike a tube of toothpaste, we can be refilled. And for that matter, even a seemingly squeezed out tube always has just a little more to give. God gives us what we need, when we need it.  The important thing to remember is that we shouldn’t try to act full, when we are empty. When we do that, that is when we act in our own strength. Let us then admit our weakness and emptiness, and in turn our heavenly Father will refill us with what will bring Him glory. Who knows, maybe it is our emptiness He wants to use most.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJV

Just keep it REAL.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, legalism, Preaching

A Question of Dignity

Much is said about how people should dress, like “dressing down” and dressing for success.” But how should a minister, a pastor, a “reverend” dress? For that matter, how should a pastor behave in public? How should his position affect his demeanor? Ever thought about that?

It’s a question regarding the appropriate level of dignity exhibited by those in ministry.

Differences

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I do believe that there is something to be said about the differences between pastors and the congregation. If you are Catholic or main-line Protestant this is probably a non-issue, but it is an issue in other circles, specifically in evangelical churches.

Many of us are well aware that Scripture teaches that there is no essential difference between one believer and another: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, many of us treasure the biblical doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer” that confirms all Christians have equal access to God, not needing the intercession or mediation of an earthly priest (Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19; and 1 Peter 2:5). Some folk, especially many of my Baptist brethren, even refrain from using terms such as “clergy” and “laity” because, in essence, we are all the same.

anthony political

The “official” me.

However, if we are all the same, if there is no difference at all, no difference in expectation or qualification, why then do we have such passages as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9? Why would Paul have instructed Timothy and Titus to ordain godly men to the work of “bishop” in the first place if there were no need for men of distinction?

The truth is that there is a biblical mandate of conduct for the role and specific offices of pastor, bishop, elder, teacher, and deacon. Those persons should be known as set apart, qualified, mature, devoted, and serious about the work (Titus 2:7).

I Struggle

I will admit, I struggle with this issue from time to time. You may not think it’s a big deal, but I think it is. The thing I don’t want is to be legalistic, prideful, arrogant, or aloof and never fun, accessible, down-to-earth, and humble.

But where does one draw the line? At what point can one say, “That [activity] is not appropriate for a person in that position” without coming across as elitist?

vbs ice cream head

The “ice cream” me.

Let’s face it, when it’s time for a fall festival or children’s activity, every one wants a pastor who is not afraid or too proud to look like a fool for the sake of a smile. It was Jesus who had little children running up to him, sitting on his knee, and enjoying being in his presence. The pastor who never laughs, never takes a shaving cream-pie in the face, or dresses up like a farmer for Vacation Bible School will never win the heart of a child.

On the other hand, the one dying in a hospital (or on the side of the road) wants more than a clown or a hip public speaker to kneel by his side or take her hand.

I struggle with where to draw the line, where being like everybody else must give way to the demeanor of one elected to lead. Sure, context is always going to make a difference, but is there no place for  gravitas in the modern church?

Grace and context. …Grace and context. That’s the only way I know to approach this.

I’d love to read what you think! Where do you see the line between dignity and doofus? 

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, clothing, General Observations, legalism, ministry