Rules

Why Routines are Not Always Ruts

A while back I lost hearing in one ear. I made an appointment with my doctor and suggested the problem might be sinus pressure. He corrected me: my problem was earwax. After the physician removed the blockage, my hearing instantly returned.

But a strange thing happened: I was now hearing all sorts of things. When I walked, I could hear the fabric of my pants rubbing. I heard birds and trucks and high frequency noises that I didn’t remember hearing before. After a few days, my experience returned to normal and I heard just as I had before.

What happened? The answer is that my mind selectively targeted what to focus upon and what to blot out. It did this by habit.

Let me share two major advantages of habits, routines, and unwritten rules.

2661 reads

In Defense of Rules, Part 2

Quote-PhariseesRead Part 1

“Rules were meant to be broken,” an old adage goes. Christians tend to have a different attitude, but we recognize a kernel of truth in the folk wisdom. Rules are so often wrong-headed, excessive, or motivated by foolish fears or lust for power. Sometimes they get in the way of the very things they are intended to accomplish.

Christian ministries can have too many rules and develop a cold, offense-focused culture. They can also err by according some rules a spiritual significance and power they don’t possess. These problems require that we give serious thought to what rules we have and what they are really accomplishing. But we should not overreact to the excesses and errors, criticize rules systems too broadly and blame them for problems that have other causes.

In Part 1 of this series, I presented two arguments for valuing rules more than many fundamentalists and evangelicals are inclined to nowadays. Here, I’ll offer a third argument, then respond to some objections.

3206 reads

In Defense of Rules, Part 1

First posted October, 2009. Discussion here.

Fundamentalists and evangelicals of my generation are generally not fond of rules, especially in ministry settings. Exactly why this is the case is an interesting study in itself. In the case of fundamentalists, perhaps it’s due to the fact that many of them grew up in rules-heavy Christian schools in an era full of glowing idealism about what these highly-disciplined, conscientiously spiritual environments would produce. The inflated hopes of those days were sure to result in some disappointments. And maybe the current rules angst is the result of a generalized disgust with the whole concept and all that seems connected to it. In defense of those who feel this way, it is only too easy to find examples of rules excesses and absurdities.

Whatever the reasons, young fundamentalists are often eager to cast “man-made rules” in a negative light and to argue from Scripture that these rules are dangerous at best, and downright hostile to Christian growth at worst.

My aim here is to offer a perspective that differs from that of many of my peers, but one that I believe answers better to both Scripture and experience.

8276 reads

Are Rules Dangerous? Part 2

Read Part 1

“Rules were meant to be broken,” an old adage goes. Christians tend to have a different attitude, but we recognize a kernel of truth in the folk wisdom. Rules are just so often wrong-headed, excessive, or motivated by foolish fears or lust for power. Sometimes they get in the way of the very things they are intended to accomplish.

Christian ministries can have too many rules and develop a cold, offense-focused culture. They can also err by according some rules a spiritual significance and power they don’t possess. These problems require that we give serious thought to what rules we have and what they are really accomplishing. But we should not overreact to the excesses and errors, criticize rules systems too broadly and blame them for problems that have other causes.

In Part 1 of this series, I presented two arguments for valuing rules more than most young Fundamentalists are inclined to. Here, I offer a third argument, then respond to some objections.

6163 reads

Are Rules Dangerous? Part 1

“Young Fundamentalists” are generally not fond of rules, especially in ministry settings. Exactly why this is the case is an interesting study in itself. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that many of them grew up in rules-heavy Christian schools in an era full of glowing idealism about what these highly-disciplined, conscientiously spiritual educational environments would produce. The inflated hopes of those days were sure to result in disappointment. And maybe the current rules angst is the result of a generalized disgust with the whole concept and all that seems connected to it. In defense of those who feel this way, it is only too easy to find examples of rules excesses and absurdities.

Whatever the reasons, young Fundamentalists are often eager to cast “man-made rules” in a negative light and to argue from Scripture that these rules are dangerous at best, and downright hostile to Christian growth at worst.

My aim here is to offer a “young Fundamentalist” perspective that differs from that of many of my peers, but one that I believe answers better to Scripture and wisdom.

12395 reads

Legalism and the Christian School Movement, Part 3

Note: Reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this series is recommended before reading Part 3.

Background

In the introductory article to this series, I suggested that Christ’s confrontations with the Pharisees are a great source for determining whether or not we are practicing legalism.

This was not at all from the “all Fundies are Pharisees” perspective so frequently hurled in accusation against Fundamentalists. In fact, I assume that the prominent place the Pharisees and our Lord’s rebukes of them have in the gospel suggest that our Lord is broadly concerned with such legalism. I believe that such texts serve as a warning to all of us who are religious (in the nicest sense of the word). Legalism is entrenched deep in the fallen human heart, and easily expresses itself in the lives of the redeemed unless we are very careful.

Thesis

There are doubtless many fine Christian schools which do not operate in a legalistic fashion. But I believe that the majority of Christian schools operate with three fallacious legalistic premises prominent in their thinking.

1366 reads

Legalism and the Christian School Movement, Part 2

Note: Reading Part 1 of this series is recommended before reading Part 2.

Background

In the introductory article to this series, I suggested that Christ’s confrontations with the Pharisees are a valid source for determining whether or not we are practicing legalism. I was not writing at all from the “all Fundies are Pharisees” perspective so frequently employed against Fundamentalists. I assume that the prominent place the Pharisees have, and that our Lord’s rebukes of them have, in the Gospels suggests that our Lord is broadly concerned with such legalism. I believe these texts serve as a warning to all of us because legalism is entrenched deep in the fallen human heart and easily expresses itself in the lives of the redeemed unless we are very careful.

Thesis

In the first article, I admitted there are many fine Christian schools which do not operate in a legalistic fashion. But I believe that the majority of Christian schools operate with three fallacious legalistic premises prominent in their thinking.

2583 reads

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