“The Christian life was a treadmill, and I was constantly picking up the pace, pushing myself harder and harder. But like a treadmill, there was no destination, no arrival point that signaled the end of all that pushing. There was just … effort.” (116)
With these words Jinger Duggar Vuolo summarizes, in her new book Becoming Free Indeed, what life was like growing up in a family that adhered to the teachings of Bill Gothard.
In 1956 Humphrey Bogart starred in one of quirkier movies, a comedy titled We’re No Angels. The year is 1895, it’s Christmas morning, and Bogart and two others are convicts on Devil’s Island, the notorious French penal colony. They escape that awful place and make their way to a coastal city in French Guiana and plot their next move.
“ask nearly anyone to define what legalism actually is, and the explanation quickly gets vague. The old joke is that legalism is anything to the right of me! Worldliness is anything to my left. Unfortunately, in real life that’s often the actual, nebulous scale by which Christians gauge one another’s holiness.” - Minnick
“The word legalism is overused. Sometimes I tell my students at the seminary where I teach that they may use this word once a year and no more. All too often legalism is employed whenever we consider obedience inconvenient.” - Derek Thomas
“… a talk that President Dallin Oaks gave in Chicago to a group of youth. In his remarks, he said he felt prompted to teach them something of great importance: ‘I had an impression from the Spirit of the Lord to teach something to each of you…. And today, I saw quite a few of the deacons take the sacrament with their left hand.
What does that bring to your mind? Perhaps you’re thinking of those Facebook debates over the Christian’s use of alcohol or arguments over personal standards. Perhaps it conjures bitter memories of judgmental Christians and legalistic churches.
What if, when we thought of Christian liberty, it brought to mind ideas such as “love,” “God’s glory,” and “service”?
Religious “Legalism” with a capital “L” is heresy. It’s the belief that one’s personal virtue and obedience to religious norms or standards merits God’s favor and/or salvation. This “do-it-yourself” religion is antithetical to the gospel of Christ and the Bible’s grace-based religion. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” writes the apostle Paul. He goes on to remark, “This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
“In all three pastoral letters, Paul impresses the need ministers have to pursue personal godliness and to call the people of God to pursue true, Gospel-motivated holiness and good works.” —Legalism, Lawlessness and Pastoral Ministry