How “Freer Than Thou” Became the New “Holier Than Thou”

“I Thank Thee That I Am Not as Other Legalists”
“…a trend that [Horton ] calls ‘reverse legalism.’ His argument is that a reverse legalist can sometimes be, ironically, just as legalistic as a regular legalist.”

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M. Osborne's picture

I remember Tim Keller has a similar comment in The Prodigal God, something about people who "are pharisaical about not being a pharisee." It made me want to rewrite the story of the pharisee and the publican praying, with someone praying "I thank you that I'm not so beholden to man-made standards, and that I can enjoy my liberty, etc." next to someone who used the KJV, wore culottes (guess it would have to be a lady), etc., simply praying, "Lord be merciful." Because of course, the heart attitude does matter, and pride can crop up for both the conservative and the liberal. What does Romans 13 say, that one side should "welcome" and "not pass judgment" but also that the other side should "not despise"?

Another irony crops up when those who have left conservative circles are still defined by the conservative standards, only now they are the list of "things I don't believe." In either camp, the rules define the person, whether it's by their presence or by their absence. If someone no longer believes alcohol is a sin, by all means, receive it with thankfulness and get on with life, but don't go around posting pictures of the alcohol at one's last event and saying, "Boy, imagine me doing that back in my old circles. Ha ha." It's an indicator that the hang-up about rules isn't fully past, and that one's identity is still not bound up with Christ like it should be.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

dmicah's picture

I agree Michael. This topic in general is spot on.

as to this:

Quote:
It's an indicator that the hang-up about rules isn't fully past, and that one's identity is still not bound up with Christ like it should be.

I do think there is some some small space for recognition of where one has come from to a level of freedom from the pickiness of some Tracon "rules." Much like the freshly licensed 16 year old grinning as she drives on the road sans mom the first time, there is no hang up with enjoying the new freedom; even with others enjoying the new freedom.

I agree that turning your freedoms into a Facebook frenzy can be quite immature.

Dick Dayton's picture

In Galatians, Paul cautioned us, "For you are called to freedom, brothers: only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love."

God gives us freedom so that we might surrender it in service to Him and others, not to flaunt it in the face of others. In our post modern, multicultural, "tolerant" society, we as believers in Christ can see how close to the edge we can get without falling off, instead of seeing how close to Christ we may draw, so that we can properly reflect Him.

I see the same arrogance in some who reject standards as I have seen in those who adhere to strict standards.

The issue is in our hearts. If we love God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and seek to truly love our neighbors, we will neither artifically impose unbiblical standards, nor will we be in the face of others with our liberties.

Dick Dayton

DavidO's picture

Dick Dayton wrote:
If we love God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and seek to truly love our neighbors, we will neither artifically impose unbiblical standards, nor will we be in the face of others with our liberties.

Amen and amen.

Kevin Subra's picture

Dick Dayton wrote:
The issue is in our hearts. If we love God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and seek to truly love our neighbors, we will neither artifically impose unbiblical standards, nor will we be in the face of others with our liberties.

I agree with the above. Is are leaving room in that comment for authentically imposed Biblical standards? Any command in the Epistles would seem to lay claim to our lives, providing we do not redefine it with our external hangings.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Dick Dayton's picture

Kevin,

Certainly Biblical commands are non-negotiables, and must be followed. God commands us be holy. The rub comes in trying to flesh out what holy looks like.
Another would be "Bring every thought into captivity to Christ." The pinciple is plain, but carrying it out is a challenge.

Dick Dayton

Kevin Subra's picture

Maybe our pursuit of fleshing these out results in definitions / descriptions that apply now, but not later (as sometimes is described by cultural changes).

Such a pursuit is indeed difficult at times, but it shouldn't cause us to shy away from trying. (I know you are not suggesting that, Dick.)

Thanks for your comments. Well put.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com