"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, October 26, 2007

Liberty vs Liberalism and Legalism

Having attended a Reformed church for 6 months now, I can honestly say there are dozens of things I find refreshing and challenging there, especially in comparison to the evangelical alternatives in Dallas. We visited many churches and either found their theology noodle-like in trying to be hip and modern (i.e. they were liberal without knowing it) and churches that seemed like a Christian frat gone horribly wrong, with a legalistic, super accountability, call-you-out-for-not-following-our-rules mentality. The Reformed tradition has a happy balance of combating both liberalism and legalism. Though practiced by my Reformed church, a great explanation of the needed resistance to legalism came from our DTS Chancellor Chuck Swindoll (here):

"I think legalism begins when you do or refrain from doing what I want you to do or not do because it's on my list and it's something that I am uncomfortable with....The problem with legalists is that not enough people have confronted them and told them to get lost. Those are strong words, but I don't mess with legalism anymore. I'm 72 years old; what have I got to lose? Seriously, I used to kowtow to legalists, but they're dangerous. They are grace-killers. They'll drive off every new Christian you bring to church. They are enemies of the faith. Other than that, I don't have any opinion!"

Our church adheres to the Westminster Confession, which explains Christian Liberty as such:

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.


They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty; which is, that, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Godspeed battling on both fronts against liberalism and legalism.

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