Why I Left Legalism

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The more I reflected on my spiritual journey the more I have realized that my legalism wasn’t rooted in the conservative nature of the churches I grew up in. I was more of a legalist than the preachers I grew up hearing. My legalism grew out of my own desire for assurance and certainty. This is natural when you are a child. You don’t know who you are and you have no way to assure your own survival (you can’t work and earn a living…you are at the mercy of adults). So you grasp for certainty and assurance and few things have the allure of this more than legalism.

Healing from legalism requires exploration and relationship. Once you meet the guys from the “other team” you begin to realize you are more on the same team than you realize. I found out that some of the Baptists I met loved God more than I did…it drove me back into the scriptures to see if what I believed was true. When I did this…not just to confirm my view but to affirm what the Bible actually teaches I began to find holes in my view that I could have never seen otherwise. I encountered people who had more fruit of the Spirit than I did.

As I have reflected on some of these things I decided to put my story down on video in case it is helpful to others. I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to still be around…many never made the journey but fell off on the wayside. Thank you God for your patience and for never letting me go!

7 Responses

  1. I don’t really think I was more legalistic than the preachers I grew up hearing, but I had no doubt that I was destined to burn in “Hell” forever by the time I married. I went through the motions and attended services in the hope that some of my family might make it through Judgment Day even though I was personally doomed.

    I realize now that the CoC’s extreme ignorance of the OT and Christ’s intended contrast between the Old and New covenants has caused the fellowship to create a mini-Law out of the NT (even though no two teachers can come up with the same list of binding commands.)

    With new tools like the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, we can see how much Catholicism survived the Reformation and Stone Campbell reforms because all the early English translations are heavily biased by Medieval church superstitions and Greek philosophy. “Hell” for Gehenna, “obey” for follow, “will return” for “is about to return” and of course “baptize” for immerse. many more…

    The Bible is a unity of thought to describe JHWH’s eternal purpose to cleanse a chosen people for His own possession and dwelling place. Legalism limits His power to cleanse all sin and grant eternal life to all who believe in Him. Studying the NT as a stand alone book wrests it completely out of the intended context.

    1. Don’t you know? We are New Testament Christians. So why should we should we worry about the Old Testament?
      And yet, Paul taught Christ from the Old Testament. He commends people who searched the Scriptures to check on his teachings. Why should we follow that example? Or, maybe, why should we NOT follow that example?
      Steven teaches Christ from Isaiah. Matthew repeats “as written by…” time and again (as does Paul). We should be able to do the same – but wait, that means we should know our Old Testament texts as well as we know our New Testament.
      I challenge members of the local congregation to follow the Bereans’ example…
      And time and again, they are surprised as they discover the depth of the writings.

    2. Amen! We are studying Isaiah here and its sad how many in their seventies have never done a formal study of the book before. Many scholars call Isaiah the fifth gospel.

      Every time I hear the standard CoC sermon on the Ethiopean eunuch, I ask the speaker if he has ever gone back to Is 53 to see what Phillip and the eunuch were studying… So far “No” is the only answer. In a few pages (Is 56) one comes to the prediction that in the Kingdom, the eunuch and the foreign born will have children, bear fruit and be equal to natural born Israelites… no wonder the eunuch went on his way rejoicing! Yet “we” are so hung up on the Stamps Baxter gospel of individual salvation that we have no clue that the Gospel of the Kingdom is a far greater and more fulfilling truth.

  2. Well done. Some of us came out of the One Cup CofC. When we discovered grace the brethren saw us as liberals, we knew we would have to leave the One Cup group. We are now with the Independent Christian Church, still part of the American restoration Movement. Can now say, Christians only but not the only Christians.

  3. Legalism is merely a continuation of the belief of the Pharisees with whom Jesus clashed on their large number of extra-Biblical rules and regulations. It also turned Paul’s love for people and new Christians into law. This occurs based on how you read Paul’s letters, individual verses taken out of context or as a letter where the problems are not always described but you get the overarching message. I don’t care which English word is used and will not blame the Roman church for the translation. In the liturgical church which follows the lectionary, you get a much longer reading of the OT, psalm, epistle, and gospel. This method ties everything together and generally shows where Jesus and Paul et al. got their idea.

  4. I agree with you completely, but I come from a different educational back ground. Also, I have been struggling with this for a number of years. Still am. Just finished reading the Old Testament. How could I have waited so long, but it was eye opening. The Bible should be read together to fully appreciate God and Jesus and to learn more of the Holy Spirit. We miss you, and agree with you.

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