Legalism

The Legalist, The Imaginary Jackelope of Modern Christians

and

Weak Conscience Christians and Legalism

 

 

 

By David C. Geminden

August 22, 2003

 

 

The Legalist, The Imaginary Jackelope of Modern Christians

and

Weak Conscience Christians and Legalism

 

By David C. Geminden

August 22, 2003

 

How do I begin on the topics alluded to in the title of this article? Maybe, I should trace backwards in time to when I was an unsaved child growing up on wheat farms in Oklahoma near the towns of Enid, Carrier, Lahoma and Goltry. I was born in 1944 and was the middle child of five brothers. We had no sisters. My brothers and I had very active imaginations as kids while growing up on the farm. Our imagination was used to create many illogical stories and jokes that we thought were funny. We always laughed at them; therefore, they had to be funny (smile). Well, let me get started.

 

Many strong conscience Christians often wonder why some Christians seem to demonstrate illogical reasoning by believing some non-sinful things are sin in themselves (doubtful things) when the Bible does not refer to them as sin. Through studying the Bible, I found out why these Christians are illogical on doubtful items. The reason is given in 1 Corinthian 8:7,12 where God refers to these Christians as Christians that have weak consciences (weak conscience Christians). Their weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience) is the thing that causes them to be illogical.

Modern day strong conscience Christians also display much illogical reasoning when they try to justify their despite for weak conscience Christians and their refusal to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians by calling them legalists and Pharisees.

When I was a kid living on a farm in Oklahoma, we kids used to use illogical reasoning just for making jokes to laugh at and have fun. We used to have fun mentally creating nonexistent critters by taking selected characteristics of existing critters and mentally attributing them to a nonexistent make-believe critter. We had many laughs doing that while we were young.

On one vacation trip we took to Colorado, our folks stopped at a tourist shop to look around and let us buy some junk. That is when we kids first saw our first jackelope; someone had taken a large stuffed jackrabbit and glued some small antelope horns to the top of its head. As kids, that was really funny to us. The shop sold pictures of the jackelope; of course, we all had to buy a picture.

Also, we kids had to extend that illogical reasoning even farther. We would see an antelope grazing in the fields along the road; and we would call it a jackelope because it had horns like the imaginary jackelope. When we saw a jackrabbit, we would call it a jackelope because it had the body of the imaginary jackelope. The extended illogical reasoning we used concluded that any critter that had at least one to a few characteristics of the imaginary jackelope was a jackelope. We kids had a lot of fun with that type illogical reasoning. Also, when we saw a horse in the field, we would call it a thousand-pound jackrabbit because it had fur, a tail and four long legs like a jackrabbit.

Many years later, I now like to refer to that childish illogical reasoning as "Forward-Jackelope-logic" and "Reverse-Jackelope-Logic". Forward-jackelope-logic is being used when a person mentally creates nonexistent critters by taking selected characteristics of existing critters and mentally attributing them to a nonexistent make-believe critter. Reverse-jackelope-logic is being used when a person reclassifies a critter as some other type critter because it has at least one to a few characteristics of the other critter. Now I am an adult, and I have found that many adults still use forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic. One area where forward-jackelope-logic is used extensively is in the supporting of atheistic and theistic macroevolution. Here, the forward-jackelope-logic is used to create imaginary critters, affectionately known as missing links, to fill in for the missing fossils in the many non-fossil bearing geological sedimentary layers that occur between fossil bearing geological sedimentary layers. This is done by taking some characteristics from the fossils in the fossil bearing layers above and below the non-fossil bearing layers and creating imaginary in-between critters (the supposed missing links) with those characteristics. They do this even though the majority of the evidence in fossil bearing sedimentary layers display obvious rapid catastrophic aqueous sedimentary burial of critters and plant life mostly from different ecological zones than those buried in the layers above or below them. However, often there are sedimentary layers where critters and plants from widely separated ecological zones are mixed together, which also displays evidence of rapid catastrophic aqueous sedimentary burial. The vast majority of sedimentary layers do not show evidence of having laid around for very long before the next layers were deposited on top of them, certainly not enough time for any supposed goo-to-you type of evolution to occur that supposedly changed one kind of critter and plant into another kind.

 

I have also noticed that many Christians use forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic when dealing with selected Biblical topics. The most obvious use occurs where Christians deal with the Bible topic of weak conscience Christians. Forward-jackelope-logic is the primary logic used to create the so-called Biblical concept called legalism and the so-called Biblical critter called a legalist. This forward-jackelope-logic takes the characteristics of the Pharisees, the false gospel teachers described in Galatians (the Galatianists), the false gospel teachers described in Colossians (the Colossianists) and weak conscience Christians described in Romans 14:1-15:7 & 1 Corinthian chapter 8 and assigns those characteristics to the so-called Biblical critter called a legalist and the so-called Biblical concept called legalism. Next, reverse-jackelope-logic is used to reclassify Pharisees, the false gospel teaches described in Galatians, the false gospel teachers described in Colossians and the weak conscience Christians described in Romans and 1 Corinthians as the so-called Biblical critters called legalists. I believe the primary motive for this use of forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic, that creates this so-called Biblical critter called a legalist, is for the purpose of justifying despite for weak conscience Christians and refusal to follow the Biblical command to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Selective forward-jackelope-logic is then used to determine the response a strong conscience Christian should have toward the illogically created legalist. Usually, this selective forward-jackelope-logic selects only the responses that God instructed Christians to have toward the Pharisees and the false gospel teachers in Galatians and Colossians. This selective forward-jackelope-logic usually ignores the God given Biblical response to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians that is given in Romans 14:1-15:7 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8. Many Christians will also often shorten the illogical reasoning path, use only the reverse-jackelope-logic, and bypass the forward-jackelope-logic to reclassify weak conscience Christians as Pharisees. Then they apply the Biblical response that a Christians should have toward false gospel teachers, like the Pharisees, Galatianists and Colossianists, instead of following the Biblical principle to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Very often, they fall into the sin of despising weak conscience Christians, as the strong conscience Christians described in Romans 14:1-15:7 did.

A very popular illogical argument that I get from many Christian brothers and sisters that try to prove that legalists are really found and described in the Bible appears to be equivalent to the following type of argument that tries to prove that jackelopes really exist in nature. Since there are critters in nature (the Bible) that have at least one to a few of the characteristics of the so-called jackelope (legalist), there must exist in nature (the Bible) a real live "jackelope" (legalist).

Let me describe some reasoning process that I use when I evaluate whether or not theological buzz-terms and buzz-phrases, not found in the Bible, are theologically acceptable from a Biblical perspective. The first step that gives me a clue as to whether a buzz-term or buzz-phrase may possibly be logically unacceptable theologically is to determine if it or an equivalent term is used in the Bible. Obviously, the fact that a term or phrase or an equivalent term or phrase are not found in the Bible is not enough to logically determine if the term or phrase is not logically acceptable, theologically, from a Biblical perspective. Therefore, the second step in my reasoning process is to determine if the definitions assigned to the terms or phrases were derived by the use of illogical reasoning or not.

Through studying some logicians lists of different logic fallacies I found that academia calls what I call reverse-jackelope-logic as being the logic fallacy of undistributed middle. So far, in my studies of fallacies I have not found a formal academic fallacy definition that describes what I call forward-jackelope-logic; however, I am still searching. Maybe academia should call forward-jackelope-logic “the definition fallacy of forward-jackelope-logic”(SMILE)?

Example of fallacious logic of Undistributed Middle in short form:
1) Pharisees believe some non-sinful things are sin.
2) Weak conscience Christians believe some non-sinful things are sin.
3) Therefore weak conscience Christians are Pharisees.

Example of fallacious logic of Undistributed Middle in short form:
1) Legalists believe some non-sinful things are sin.
2) Weak conscience Christians believe some non-sinful things are sin.
3) Therefore weak conscience Christians are legalists.

For some time now, since about 1975, I have been engaging Christians in discussions on Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33. I have done this in an effort to determine what the average Christian's view of legalism, legalists and weak conscience Christians are. As you know, those portions of the Scriptures talk about weak conscience Christians (Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33), weak conscience non-Christians (1 Cor. 10:23-33), and strong conscience Christians (Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33).

 

Before I was saved most of my unsaved friends and I looked with despite upon other unsaved folk that wanted us to abstain from things that were not illegal or considered sinful. I will not list here any of the language that we used to express our despite. We also looked with despite upon Christians that also wanted us to abstain from things that were not illegal or considered sinful (doubtful things). I was saved just before I joined the Army in February 1964. My tour of duty in the Army was from February 1964 to February 1968. I started attending a Bible study group at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and I found that the military folk in the Bible study did not speak with despite toward other Christians (weak conscience Christians) that believed some items were sin, things that were not called sin in the Bible. With an attitude that displayed the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance—Gal. 5:22-23), they endeavored to abstained 100% from the extremely doubtful items, items that most Christians with a weak conscience have a weak conscience about. Concerning doubtful things that only a small percentage of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about, which they referred to as “petty doubtful things”, they did not do 100% abstinence from. That was a completely different life style than what I had been used to. Obvious, I did not have the fruit of the Spirit that they displayed by bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians and not despising them. Something inside of me wanted to have that same fruit of the Spirit; my heart burned with guilt over the despiteful attitude that I had lived with for so many years. Therefore, I listened with eagerness as those Christians explained their motives. They explained to me their motive for abstaining from some things that were not sin by showing me the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians described in Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8. They also showed me 1 Corinthians 8:7,12 where the buzz-phrase “weak conscience Christians” is derived from, which is were God, through the Apostle Paul, describes some Christians as having their consciences defiled because of their weak consciences (overly sensitive conscience). Also, from Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8, it is inferred that the “strong” are those Christians that do not have a weak conscience (which they referred to as strong conscience Christians). Also concerning consciences, in 1Timothy 4:1-3 God speaks of some folk that will depart from the faith as having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Obviously, a person with a seared conscience is not a Christian. Also, in the Bible a seared conscience and a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience) are two completely different problems.

 

When I got out of the army and found a good church to attend, I naturally thought that I would see that principle being followed by the mature strong conscience Christians in the congregation. I soon learned that was not the case. Within a few years, I came to the conclusion that the majority of Christians in fundamental churches were weak conscience Christians and that the majority of Christians in evangelical churches were strong conscience Christians that refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Christianity had polarized to these two extremes in the area of doubtful things, leaving modern Christianity with very few strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Because of this and the observation of weak conscience fundamental Christians calling other weak conscience fundamental Christians legalists and strong conscience evangelicals calling all fundamentalists legalists, I started searching the Bible again for more detail on the concept of weak conscience Christians, strong conscience Christians, and legalism. Calling a weak conscience Christian a legalist seemed illogical to me because the definition of a legalist that I held to did not cover the characteristics of weak conscience Christians. The definition that I held to only covered those who taught a false gospel of reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation.

 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 8 God, through the Apostle Paul, describes the characteristics of weak conscience Christians. Their weak consciences caused them to conclude that eating the leftover meat that came from an animal that had been used in a pagan sacrifice to a pagan god was sin in itself. Their weak consciences overrides their normal common sense reasoning ability causing them to not comprehend and understand the fact that eating the leftover meat from the pagan sacrificial animal is not sin in itself. God, through Paul, in 1 Corinthians chapter 8 tells the Christians at Corinth that eating this leftover meat that came from the sacrificial animal was not sin in itself. In Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 God, through the Apostle Paul, uses the phrase “weak in the faith” and the word “weak” when talking about Christians with weak consciences that believe something is sin, even though God does not call it sin. In 1 Corinthians chapter 8:7,12 God describes the specific area of weakness in these Christians, and that weakness is a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience). In Romans 15:1 God uses the term “strong” to refer to those Christians that do not have a weak conscience; therefore, by inference, the specific area of strength in these strong Christians is a strong conscience.

 

As I previously stated, the definition that I held to only covered those who taught a false gospel of reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation. However, I found that the definitions of a legalist and legalism held by the majority of modern Christians, including fundamentalists and evangelicals, seemed to me to be very broad, relative, variable and adaptable because they include all the characteristics of and/or both the common characteristics of the Pharisees, the characteristics of the false gospel teachers described in Galatians (Galatianists), the characteristics of the false gospel teachers described in Colossians (Colossianists), the characteristics of the weak conscience Christians described in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, and any characteristic that they disliked and observed in other Christians (See Appendix B at the end of this document the list of definitions of a legalist and legalism produced by modern day Chrisitisns). Also, the terms legalism and legalist or equivalent terms are not found in the Bible. Those broad, relative, variable and adaptable definitions were very perplexing to me.

 

In the following, I will list three examples of what I believe is fallacious logic that I have observed being used by modern Christians to develop their definitions of a legalist and legalism and their application of the definitions.

 

Example number 1) By including only those characteristics in the definition of a legalist and legalism that are characteristics shared by the Pharisees, Galatianist false gospel teachers, Colossianists false gospel teachers, and weak conscience Christians, it makes the definition too broad covering all four of these critters in the Bible. Actually, it only takes one common characteristic in the definition of a legalist and legalism to include all four of the critters. Also, using broad and relative terms, such as strict, literal, excessive conformity, often to strict and literal, in the definition dramatically increases the range of coverage of the definition to the point where in every persons eyes everybody else except themselves are legalists (SMILE). This is the classic logic fallacy of making definitions too broad. A classic example of this kind of logic fallacy given in logic textbooks is to define apples as being red and round. This definition of an apple is too broad because the planet Mars is red and round and is classified as an apple by this fallacious definition.

 

The follow is a list of some examples of definitions of a legalist and legalism that are illogically (fallaciously) too broad by using basically ONLY ONE common characteristic of the critters that you want to call legalists.

 

* Strict, conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

* Literal conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

* Excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

* Strict adherence to the law.

* Literal adherence to the law.

* Excessive adherence to the law.

* Strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code.

* Strict and literal adherence to a list of dos and don’ts.

* Strict adherence or conformity to a list of dos and don’ts.

* Conformity to someone else’s list of dos and don’ts.

* Conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

* Adherence to law or to a moral code.

* Having a list of dos and don’ts.

* Following a list of dos and don’ts.

* Believing and teaching some items and practices (doubtful things) are sin in themselves when the Bible does not call them sin.

* Teaching abstinence from doubtful things.

* Abstaining from doubtful things that other people believe are sins in themselves.

* Judging other people.

* A proud personality.

* Judging other Christians for not believing some doubtful things are sin in themselves.

* Not walking in the Holy Spirit

* Not being led by the Holy Spirit.

* And any characteristic that you don’t like and observe in other Christians.

 

Example number 2) Another perplexing example I have seen and heard is when I have asked many Christians what their definition of a legalist and legalism was. They initially quoted basically one of the above single characteristic definitions. However, upon further questioning I found that they actually held to a single multi-characteristic (multi-pointed) definition of a legalist and legalism that included all, or most, of the above basic single characteristic definitions plus the characteristic of reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation. However, there were many Christians when asked what their definition was, right away revealed that they held to this single multi-characteristic definition of a legalist and legalism. You would then logically NOT expect them to call weak conscience Christians legalists because logically all the above characteristics have to be true of a Christian in order to call him a legalist based on the above single multi-pointed definition. However, I found that Christians holding to this multi-characteristic definition call another Christian a legalist if they are guilty of ONLY ONE of the characteristics of this multi-characteristic definition. That seemed very illogical to me! As I point out in the beginning of this article, the logic used in developing these multi-characteristic type definitions is exactly the same illogical logic my brothers, our friends and I used when we were kids dreaming up make-believe critters (strange nonexistent animals). We would take the characteristics of many different animals and assign them to a make-believe critter (I now refer to that type of logic as forward-jackelope-logic). We would then look at an existing critter we saw roaming the countryside and illogically claim the critter was our make-believe critter based only on ONE of the characteristics of our make-believe critter (I now refer to that type of logic as reverse-jackelope-logic). Through studying some logicians’ lists of different logic fallacies, I found that academia calls what I call reverse-jackelope-logic as being “the logic fallacy of undistributed middle". As kids, we thought that those types of illogical reasoning were only good for making jokes to laugh at. What a surprise I had when I got older and found adult Christians still using that same illogical reasoning in their creation of the definition of a legalist and legalism and in their application of the definition. Also, I have observed Christians using reverse-jackelope-logic by calling weak conscience Christians Pharisees, which is the same kind logic that is used when someone classifies a horse as a rat because it has fur, a tail, and walks on four legs.

 

Example number 3) Another perplexing type of definitions occurs when many Christians combine several characteristics together to make a short formal ditty definition of legalism, that contains several characteristics such as the following: “The legalism of a legalist is an attitude base on pride that depends on works to obtain sanctification (spiritual maturity), fellowship with God and blessings (rewards) from God.” or, “The legalism of a legalist is when a person depends on works to obtain sanctification (spiritual maturity), fellowship with God and blessings (rewards) from God.” At first, you would think that these are their complete definitions of a legalist and legalism, until you ask them to explain the definitions in more detail and give some examples. The interesting and perplexing thing about these types of definitions is that none of the characteristics in the definitions are listed in the Bible as being the characteristics of weak conscience Christians. YET, these types of definitions are popular definitions illogically used by Christians primarily to reclassify weak conscience Christians as legalists. How do they get these types of definitions to cover weak conscience Christians? Usually when Christians that use these types of definitions go into more detail about what the definition REALLY means to them, you will find that they illogically believe this definition means more than what the wording used in the definition means. All of a sudden you find in their detailed explanation a listing of additional characteristics that do cover the characteristics that weak conscience Christians have and also including those characteristics in common with the Pharisees, and the false gospel teachers at Galatia and Colossae and that you only have to be guilty of ONLY ONE of these additional characteristic to be classified as a legalist. This is classic illogical reasoning using both forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic. Why didn’t they include all of that information in the formal short ditty definition to begin with? This technique appears to me to be a conscious or a Naive unconscious rhetorical trick designed to divert or stop the hearer’s or reader’s thinking process so that they will not catch the illogical forward-jackelope-logic reasoning, used to create the critter called a legalist, and the illogical reverse-jackelope-logic reasoning, that concludes that a Christian is a legalist if he is guilty of ONLY ONE of the additional characteristic added in their detailed explanation of what the short formal ditty definition REALLY means. It is somewhat like what happens when a lion jumps in front of a person and roars at them; they get scared and stop thinking. These types of short little ditty definition are designed to shock a person’s thinking process in to being stuck only on how appallingly unspiritual the so-called legalist must be. Thus, this technique prevents their reasoning from working properly from that point on so that they will not catch the illogical forward-jackelope-logic reasoning and the illogical reverse-jackelope-logic reasoning being used.

 

For example 2 definitions, the important techniques to follow in creating these types of tricky, broad, relative, variable and adaptable definitions are as follows. 1) Develop a short formal sounding ditty definition that includes only one of the characteristics that the Christian or Christians you plan to call legalists are guilty of that is most likely to give them the appearance of being appallingly unspiritual. 2) Then feed the Christian or Christians, that you are talking to, the additional characteristics that you really use to classify a person as a legalist while also stating or implying that a person has to be guilty of only one of the additional characteristics to be classified as a legalists. This technique works very well in preventing many Christians from catching the classic illogical forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic reasoning being used.

 

For example 3 definitions, the important techniques to follow in creating these types of tricky, broad, relative, variable and adaptable definitions are as follows. 1) Develop a short formal sounding ditty definition that includes any characteristics that make the Christian or Christians you plan to call legalists look like the most appallingly unspiritual pieces of human machinery that ever walked on the face of planet Earth. 2) While the Christian or Christians, that you are talking to, are in shock over how appallingly unspiritual these so-called legalists are, you then feed them the additional characteristics that you really use to classify a person as a legalist while also stating or implying that a person has to be guilty of only one of the additional characteristics to be classified as a legalists. This technique works even better in preventing many Christians from catching the classic illogical forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic reasoning being used.

 

I believe the reason why so many Christians easily fall for these types of illogical definitions of a legalist and legalism is because they want to justify their despite for Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful-things that they don’t have a weak conscience about and to justify their refusal to bear the burden of these weak conscience Christians.

 

Another interesting thing that has always been a bit perplexing to me is when modern Christians say that the false Gospel teachers at Galatia and Colossae and the Pharisees were also teaching doing works of the law just for what we today call earning spiritual maturity alone (independent of earning salvation). I believe that spiritual maturity in the eyes of the false gospel teachers at Galatia and Colossae and the Pharisees meant doing a bang-up job of earning salvation; to those false gospel teachers spiritual maturity and salvation were the same thing; spiritual maturity was earning or helping to earn their salvation. Maturing spiritually in the eyes of those false gospel teachers meant only that a person has a higher probability of obtaining salvation if they did a lot of good works. Those false gospel teachers did not think of spiritual maturity and salvation as two separate things like Christians do.

 

I have also observed, what seems like about 80 to 90% of the time, when Christians used the terms legalist and legalism when referring to other Christians, they were actually referring to Christians that have weak consciences about something that they don’t have a weak conscience about. Again, all this led me to conclude that the primary motive (reason) for modern Christians creating these broad, relative, variable and adaptable definitions of legalism and a legalist was for the purpose of reclassifying weak conscience Christians into another critter to justify their despite for Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful-things that they don’t have a weak conscience about and to justify their refusal to bear the burden of these weak conscience Christians. To me, these broad, relative, variable and adaptable definitions of a legalist and legalism seem to have SUPPLANTED the biblical concept of weak conscience Christians in the minds of most fundamentalists and evangelicals. I found this SUPPLANTING appears to occur in three ways. The first occurrence is a PARTIAL SUPPLANTING that occurs in the minds of those that still use the concept of weak conscience Christians. They reason that untaught Christians are the only Christians that can have weak consciences and that these untaught Christians are primarily new Christians. They then conclude that Christians who are not new Christians (those that have been Christians for more than two or three years), who have been taught the Bible and who still have the characteristics of the weak conscience Christians described in Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8 are legalists. The second PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method is one that I found out about in July of 1998 after having posted some of my thoughts on this subject (which listed only one PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method) on some Christian message-boards on the internet. This second PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method pulls Romans 14:3,4,16 out of context, and it says that weak conscience Christians that are speaking evil, blasphemous judgments (being judgmental and condemning) of the strong conscience Christians are really Pharisees (legalists). It also says that those weak conscience Christians that don’t speak evil, blasphemous judgments (not being judgmental and condemning) of the strong conscience Christians and possibly could be influenced to sin against their conscience by the example of a strong conscience Christian are really the true weak conscience Christians. However, these verses (Romans 14:3,4,16) are not describing Pharisees, they are describing weak conscience Christians that have stumbled to the point of falling into the sin of speaking evil, blasphemous judgments (being judgmental and condemning) of strong conscience Christians. The Third SUPPLANTING method totally RECATEGORIZES the weak conscience Christians in Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8 as legalists. If this third method is true, does that mean that we are to bear the burden of some legalists and not other legalists? Why do modern Christians want such ALL-INCLUSIVE definitions for a legalist and legalism? Are modern Christians trying to hide something or hide from something? Why do they want the definition to cover the characteristics of weak conscience Christians? Clearly, the Bible reveals that weak conscience Christians are stricter than Christians that do not have weak consciences, and clearly the strictness is directly proportional to the number of Christians that have a weak conscience about an item. But, does that justify modern Christians CATEGORIZING them in the same CATEGORY that you would place a PHARISEE and then treating them as PHARISEES?

 

Again, It appears as though many fundamentalists and evangelicals regard another Christian to be a legalist if he is guilty of at least one of the common characteristics of the Pharisees, the false gospel teachers that infiltrated both the churches of Galatia and the church at Colossae, and weak conscience Chrisitians. The Pharisees and the false gospel teachers taught that certain things were sin when in actuality they were not called sin in the Bible; and that is also a characteristic of weak conscience Christians. Also, the weak conscience Christians in Romans chapter 14 were doing non-Biblical judging where they were speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians (Romans 14:3, 4, 16) and their activities, which is also the same type judging characteristic that the Pharisees and false gospel teachers had. However, I have not been able to find a place in the Scriptures where God CATEGORIZES weak conscience Christians, Pharisees, and the false gospel teachers at Colossae and Galatia into one category like modern Christians do with the modern concepts of a legalist and legalism. Early in my Christian life, I came to the conclusion that God wants us to treat all four as four different groups of people with their own set of characteristics, even though, they may have a few similar characteristics. Over the years, I have often referred to these four groups as Pharisees, Galatianists, Colossianists, and weak conscience Christians. The Pharisees taught a false gospel of Pharisaism. The Galatianists taught the false gospel of Galatianism. The Colossianists taught the false gospel of Colossianism.

 

I believe that it is important that I now make some comments about the definitions that are found in English dictionaries. Most modern dictionaries usually give two definitions for the word legalism (See Appendix A items 5 and 7). The first is a non-theological definition that defines legalism as “strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code.” The second is a theological definition that defines legalism as “the doctrine of salvation by good works – a reliance on works for salvation.” It has always intrigued me as why they give two definitions, one a theological definition and the other a non-theological definition. The first definition “strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code”, being a non-theological definition, is a very interesting one, since it does not give any detailed explanation (interpretation) of what the phrase “strict, often to strict and literal, adherence” means. By not giving a detailed explanation of the phrase “strict, often to strict and literal, adherence”, they have left the determination of the exact meaning of that phrase up the whim of each individual person who is judging someone else as to whether or not that person is a legalist guilty of legalism. Because of this very broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition, some folk actually judge everyone else, except themselves, to be legalists since everyone else is stricter than himself or herself. This is often the case for many hardened criminals. Non-Christians, especially atheists, agnostics and irreligious people usually with much despite apply this first non-theological definition to true faithful Christians, which in their eyes are always strict and too strict compared to themselves, and call them legalists. Modern day Christians have followed their example and combined the same broad, relative, variable and adaptable idea of “strict and often too strict and literal, adherence” to the defining of the theological definitions of a legalist and legalism. Some of the modern authors of modern English dictionaries have been so heavily influenced by this wholesale redefinition of the theological definition of a legalist and legalism by modern Christians that they no longer have two definitions of legalism (that is, a theological and a non-theological), but have actually replaced the two definitions in their dictionaries with one very broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition of a legalist and legalism (See Appendix A items 1 and 4). This combined definition usually is as follows: “strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code” (See Appendix A items 1 and 4). Modern Christians lap up this definition “like flies to cow manure”, and use it in a circular reasoning fashion to help justify their illogical, broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition of a legalist and legalism, which they originally developed using illogical reasoning, of the variety that I referred to previously as forward-jackelope-logic.

 

Let me make some comments about non-Christians that have weak consciences and/or about false Christians (non-Christians) that have weak consciences and also teach a false gospel of doing works to earn or help earn salvation. Since their weak conscience causes them to believe some doubtful things are sin and they believe that doing works earns salvation, they will include abstinence from those doubtful things as works that they have to do to earn salvation. According to the English dictionaries that have a theological definition for legalism and a legalist, they are legalists because the dictionary theological definition of a legalist and legalism is one who has reliance upon works to earn salvation. According to the non-theological definition in those dictionaries, all Christians are categorized as legalists, not just the weak conscience Christians. However, modern strong conscience Christians illogically wiggle out from under the non-theological definition of being called a legalist by saying that it is the weak conscience Christians who are really what the not-theological definition of a legalist and legalism is really referring to. They also, try to reinforce that idea that weak conscience Christians are really the legalists by illogically creating their own modern theological definition as I am describing in this article.

 

Many years ago, I also concluded that another motive for many modern Christians, fundamentalists and evangelicals, to accept and use the very broad, relative, variable and adaptable concepts of legalism was TO HIDE something that they are guilty of. Many fundamentalists use the concept of legalism in an indirect way TO HIDE the fact that they are weak conscience Christians. Evangelicals use the concept of legalism TO HIDE the fact that they are strong conscience Christians guilty of despising weak conscience Christians and despiteful refusal to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Therefore, when weak conscience fundamentalist Bill encounters another fundamentalist that is not a new Christian and has a weak conscience about some items that he doesn't have a weak conscience about, Bill will call him a legalist instead of a weak conscience Christian. If weak conscience fundamentalist Bill would call another fundamentalist a weak conscience Christian, he would be teaching other fundamentalists to call him (weak conscience fundamentalist Bill) a weak conscience Christian; and the truth would hurt him worse than being called a legalist. It seems as though many weak conscience fundamentalists do not mind being called a legalist if it hides their weak consciences. Strange! We see both weak conscience fundamental Christians calling other weak conscience fundamental Christians legalists, and evangelicals calling all fundamentalists legalists.

 

For years, I have listened to my generation of weak conscience fundamentalists call other weak conscience fundamentalists legalists. Now I am hearing the next generation of weak conscience fundamentalists, who do not have weak consciences about as many items as the previous generation, calling all the previous generation of weak conscience fundamentalists legalists; and they are also calling other fundamentalists of their own generation legalists, like their predecessors did. I believe Christians should do like the Bible does and not use the term legalist of legalism when making comments about or describing other Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful items and describing false gospel teachers. Our statement should be similar to the following. 1) Joe has a weak conscience about holding a microphone in his hand while singing. 2) Bill has a weak conscience about the Movie Theater. 3) Mary has a weak conscience about earrings the size of quarters. 4) Harry, like the majority of weak conscience fundamental Christians and many weak conscience non-Christians, has a weak conscience about the rock rhythm; and since the volume of weak conscience Christians and non-Christians that have a weak conscience about the rock rhythm is high, the strong conscience Christians, in common sense application of Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 10:23-33, should walk in love and abstain from the use of the rock rhythm. 5) George, in addition to having a weak conscience, has a very proud domineering personality, which creates an extreme nagging wife and authoritarian atmosphere. 6) Jeff says smoking is sin, but is being hypocritical by secretly smoking. 7) Jim teaches salvation by works alone. 8) Phil teaches salvation by faith in Christ plus works of the law (The false gospel in Galatianism). 9) Bob teaches salvation by faith in Christ plus works. 10) The Pharisees teach that Christ is not the Messiah and that salvation is by faith in God plus works of the law. 11) Greg teaches that Christ’s sacrifice did not forgive all our trespasses, we are not complete in Christ because all the fullness of the Godhead did not dwell in Christ bodily, that the handwriting of ordinances (the law) that was against us was not taken out of the way by Christ, and that our reward is obtained by voluntary humility and worshipping of angels instead of holding the Head (Christ) (The false gospel in Colossianism). Notice, as the Scriptures do, a Christian can be Biblically accurate and very clear in describing the problems without using the non-Biblical categorization concepts called a legalist and legalism.

 

Also, many fundamentalists and evangelicals often use the terminology "personal preferences" to hide the fact that most of the time the problem really revolves around doubtful issues, items that weak conscience Christians believe are sin in themselves. All this is done to help hide from the reality of weak conscience Christians by making all weak conscience Christians appear only as very proud, picky and selfish individuals without a weak conscience being involved in the problem. Non-proud weak conscience Christians are not being foolishly picky over their personal preferences; their weak consciences prevent their reasoning ability from distinguishing between the non-sinful things and the accompanying sinful things and practices. The weak conscience of a non-proud weak conscience Christian is what forces him to conclude something is sin, not his personal preferences. For a weak conscience Christian that happens to also have a proud personality, his pride causes him to use his personal preferences to conclude additional items as sin beyond what his weak conscience pushes him to conclude are sin. The weak conscience of weak conscience Christians overrides their normal common sense reasoning ability causing them to conclude a doubtful item is sin even though it is not called sin in the Bible. Therefore, God wants strong conscience Christians to walk in love toward weak conscience Christians.

 

Over the years, I have heard both fundamental and evangelical preachers tell their congregations that they should be balanced. But, how can the fundamentalists and the evangelicals ever have balanced congregations while they are hiding behind the concepts of a legalist and legalism? I believe that there is a great need in our day to have more Christians be strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians as the Apostle Paul did. And, like the Apostle Paul, without using the terms legalist and legalism, they should be admonishing both the weak conscience Christians that are speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians and the strong conscience Christians that are doing despiteful judging of weak conscience Christians and not bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians.

 

Maybe I should say something about how I apply the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians in my everyday Christian life. Years ago, one of the first things that I discovered was that the Bible only listed about four doubtful things that the weak and strong conscience Christians were quarreling about in that era: leftover meat from pagan sacrificial animals, certain days, certain foods and alcoholic beverages (Romans 14). My common sense reasoning keep telling me that there should be some sort of information in the Bible that indicates a differentiation between extremely doubtful things that almost all weak conscience Christians will have a weak conscience about and the “not-so-extremely-doubtful-things” or “petty doubtful things” that only a small percentage of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about. However, I found that the Bible did not explicitly refer to extremely doubtful things and to petty doubtful things. That baffled me for a little while. Why didn’t God give us clear and obvious information like that? The biggest reason why that baffled me was because a person could then easily claim that a Christians should abstain 100% from any doubtful thing even if only 1 person in 1,000,000 had a weak conscience about it and even if you lived 1000 miles away from that 1 person. Therefore, I started looking for information in the Bible that would indirectly indicate logically a differentiation between extremely doubtful things and not-so-extremely-doubtful things. My own personal experience with modern weak conscience Christians clearly revealed that there were some doubtful things, that I called extremely doubtful things, that almost all weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about, and that there were some doubtful things that only a small percentage of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about, which I called petty doubtful things. My experience with modern weak conscience Christians also revealed that it was the extremely doubtful things that most often caused the hottest battles between weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians that practiced or partook of those extremely doubtful things. I felt that surely the same thing must have been happening during the era that Paul lived in, since Christians in his time had the same human nature that modern Christians have. Finally, it dawned on me that the examples that Paul listed in his epistles could be just the extremely doubtful things in his era that weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians were fighting over. It was those extremely doubtful things that Paul listed that were causing the weak conscience Christians to speak evil judgments (blasphemous judgments, Romans 14:16) of the strong conscience Christians who exercised their freedom in those things. Therefore, I concluded that God could be telling strong conscience Christians that the extremely doubtful things are the only doubtful things where near 100% abstinence from was necessary. However, this also meant that God did not explicitly list any petty doubtful things and give explicit instructions on how to handle the petty doubtful things. Therefore, I concluded that God is expecting strong conscience Christians to use their common sense logic in determining how often, when and where to exercise our freedom in the area of petty doubtful things. Even though 100% abstinence from the petty doubtful things is not necessary, the exercising of our freedom in these areas should not be done in a way that will encourage those few weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences about the petty doubtful things to become bold enough to act against their weak conscience (1 Cor. 8:9-13).

 

I will present another line of reasoning that leads me to similar conclusions. The Bible tell us that a husband and wife are to love each other, but leaves out a lot of fine detail, such as: how often to have sexual intercourse, how often to buy flowers for my wife, do I buy her flowers or something else, how often to tell my wife how much I love her, should I take my wife out to dinner, how often should I take her out to dinner, etc. Obviously, God is expecting husbands and wives to use their common sense that is guided by biblical principles. Since the Bible does not explicitly tell strong conscience Christians how many Christians have to have a weak conscience about an item to warrant 100% abstinence from that item, God is expecting us to use our common sense guided by the biblical principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians. According to Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33, following the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians should accomplish several things. According to my comprehension, the following is a list of those things:

 

1) (Romans 14:1) — It should prevent bitter disputes with weak conscience Christians over doubtful things; thus, keeping peace in the church.

 

2) (Romans 14:1-12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 21; 15:1 and 1Cor. 10:23-33) — It should prevent weak conscience Christians, as well as weak conscience non-Christians, from stumbling to where their judging is slanderous, blasphemous, evil speaking of our good and us. We should walk charitably for the purpose of maintaining peace, causing edification and not pleasing ourselves.

 

3) (1 Cor. 8:9-13) — It should prevent weak conscience Christians from becoming bold enough to partake of the doubtful items that they believe are sin. Because, if the actions of a strong conscience Christian causes weak conscience Christians to partake of things that they believe are sin, he has caused those weak conscience Christians to be become guilty of sin; and now that strong conscience Christian is guilty of sin since his actions caused the weak conscience Christians to go against their weak conscience.

 

Common sense reveals that, as near as possible, 100% abstinence from a doubtful item is necessary to accomplish the first two results when the percentage of Christians and/or non-Christians that have a weak conscience about an item is high. The Scriptures reveal only a few extremely doubtful things that the majority of weak conscience Christians during Paul’s lifetime had weak consciences about: leftover meat from pagan sacrificial animals, non-vegetarian diets, not esteeming of certain days above another and alcoholic beverages (Romans 14:21). Today the majority of modern weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences have weak consciences about some of the same extremely doubtful things as well as new and different extremely doubtful things such things as: alcoholic beverages, tobacco, certain musical rhythms (rock, country and western, jazz, rap, and new age) and etc—. Also, today a small percentage of the weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about the extremely doubtful things, will also have weak conscience about some not-so-extremely-doubtful items (petty doubtful things): movie theater, pants on women, guitars, saxophones, electronic keyboard musical instruments, video rental stores, holding a microphone while singing or preaching, ear rings larger than a quarter, regular deck of playing cards, and etc—. There is a very interesting thing happening today in modern fundamentalism. There is a significant percentage of weak conscience Christians in fundamentalism today that have weak consciences only about some or all of the extremely doubtful things but not about the petty doubtful things. Their numbers in any given community is sufficient enough that there are fundamental churches today that contain primarily only those weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences about the extremely doubtful things and not the petty doubtful things, who I often refer to as “hybrid” or “half-and-half” weak conscience Christians. It seems like these individual Christians are half weak conscience Christian and half strong conscience Christian (hybrids). A very perplexing thing about a significant percentage of the “half-and-half” weak conscience Christians is that out of one corner of their mouth they are blasphemously judging Christians that don’t have a weak conscience about the extremely doubtful items that they have a weak conscience about and out of the other corner of their mouth, with much despite, judge Christians as being legalists that have weak consciences about the petty doubtful items that they don’t have a weak conscience about.

 

I endeavor to do 100% abstinence from the extremely doubtful things, such as the ones that I listed previous (alcoholic beverages, tobacco, certain musical rhythms (rock, country and western, jazz, rap and new age). Well, almost 100% on the doubtful musical rhythms since I do not always turn off the TV and radio during commercials or turn off the sound system in stores when I am shopping. If I am visiting unsaved friends, neighbors and relatives, I usually do not ask them to turnoff the music they are listening to. A very high percentage of Christians that have weak consciences will have a weak conscience about most of those extremely doubtful things if not all of those items, so I endeavor to do, well — let me say, 98% (smile) abstinence. I have also found that most Churches that prefer to call themselves Fundamental Churches rather than Evangelical Churches do not use the above five musical rhythms in their music. An interesting thing that I have notice over the years is that the extremely doubtful things that the majority of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about turn out to be the doubtful things that weak conscience non-Christians are most likely to have a weak conscience about also.

 

Also, common sense reveals that 100% abstinence from a doubtful item is not necessary to accomplish the first two results when the percentage of Christians and/or non-Christians that have a weak conscience about an item is small. Since their number is small, the non-proud weak conscience Christians usually will not speak evil of the strong conscience Christians. Thus, there usually will not be any bitter disputes occur in the church over such things; those few weak conscience Christians will only do Biblically proper judging that is not of a sinful slanderous, blasphemous, evil speaking nature. Even though 100% abstinence is not necessary under this condition, the exercising of our freedom should not be done in a way that will encourage those few weak conscience Christians to become bold enough to act against their weak conscience (1 Cor. 8:9-13).

 

Well, a little more detail about the not-so-extremely-doubtful items: movie theater, pants on women, guitars, saxophones, electronic keyboard musical instruments, video rental stores, holding a microphone while singing or preaching, ear rings larger than a quarter, regular deck of playing cards, and etc—. The percentage of Fundamentalists that have a weak conscience about the petty doubtful things is significantly smaller than for those that have a weak conscience about extremely doubtful things. Therefore, I do not endeavor to do 100% abstinence from them. However, I do use my God given common sense wisdom and courtesy guided by the Biblical principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians to determine when, how often and where to use or partake of the petty doubtful things. As an example, I do not use a regular deck of cards at Sunday school class fellowships. However, I do use them at home and when I am having fellowship (not a Church sponsored fellowship) with Christians that do not have a weak conscience about them. I will also use them when I am visiting with unsaved friends, neighbors and relatives that do not have a weak conscience about them.

 

Many years back (in the mid-1970’s) I concluded concerning doubtful things that the majority of Christians in the Fundamental group of Christians were equivalent to the group of weak conscience Christians that God through Paul was admonishing in Romans chapter 14 and that the majority of Christians in the Evangelical group of Christians were equivalent to the group of strong conscience Christians that God through Paul was admonishing in Romans chapter 14 and 15. Yes, modern Christianity is one-big-time repeat of Romans 14:1 through 15:7. Also, in the early 1980’s I stopped believing that the broad, relative, variable and adaptable concept of legalism could have ever been a valid Biblical concept and that a legalist could have ever been valid Biblical critter. I also rejected the older and narrower definition for legalism and a legalist where the definition referred only to “a reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation.” Because I found that, very few modern Christians held to this older and narrower definition of a legalist and legalism any more. And I found that when I used the terms legalism and legalist most Christians always thought that I was referring to a weak conscience Christian that believed some non-sinful things were sin in themselves. Since these two groups of Christians are large in number, it is easy for each to fall into the sins described in Romans chapter 14. The weak conscience Christians will speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians. The strong conscience Christians with much despite refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians and with much despite accuse the weak conscience Christians of being legalists and Pharisees. Both the modern day strong conscience Christians that despise the weak conscience Christians and the modern day weak conscience Christians that are speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians display more human intellectual brilliance than their counterparts in Paul’s day by having developed the illogical, very broad, relative, variable and adaptable concepts called a legalist and legalism.

 

In 1 Corinthians 8, the weak conscience Christians apparently were not speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians; however, apparently some of them were emboldened by the practices of the strong conscience Christians to partake of that which they believed was sin in itself. However, in Rome the crowd of weak conscience Christians apparently was large enough to give them the courage to also speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians (Romans 14:3,4,16) that exercised their freedoms in Christ. A large crowd of people easily gives each other the courage to do things that they might not do otherwise.

 

Romans 14:1-13a tells us what the ideal responses of the weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians should be. In this ideal situation weak conscience Christians would be fully convinced in their own minds and would be abstaining from the things that they believe are sin and at the same time would not be speaking evil blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians. The strong conscience Christians would be fully convinced in their own minds and would be exercising their freedoms doing those things that the weak conscience Christians believe are sin without despising and without setting at naught the weak conscience Christians. Both would not be judging or setting at naught brothers and sisters in Christ because they would be taking into account the fact that they all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of themselves to God.

 

Notice, the ideal situation developed in Romans 14:1-13a is the situation that strong conscience Christians would like the best because they would not have to give up any of their freedoms in Christ. However, God knew that this ideal scenario would not last long, and in Romans 14:13b-15:7 put more responsibility on the strong conscience Christians to keep the peace within the fellowship of Christians in the area of doubtful things. This He did by having the strong conscience Christians walk in love by bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians by abstaining from those extremely-doubtful-things that cause the weak conscience Christians to speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians. To me, common sense interpreting of the Scriptures clearly indicates that God is just expecting the stronger to be able to walk in love and handle more responsibility in squelching the battle and keeping the peace (Romans 14:13b-15:7). Since the strong conscience Christian’s reasoning ability is not shackled by a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience), he should be mature enough to handle the extra responsibility of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians and, at the same time, be teaching and admonishing weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians to mature. However, as in Paul’s day, many strong conscience Christians today refuse to accept that God given responsibility; but today they use the broad, relative, variable and adaptable concepts of a legalist and legalism to justify not accepting that responsibility and to justify their despite. What I find very interesting and perplexing is that many modern day weak conscience Christians also uses the same broad, relative, variable and adaptable concepts of a legalist and legalism in an indirect way to hide his guilt of being a weak conscience Christian and their despite for other weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about more items then they do. Because many weak conscience Christians in Fundamentalism are taught the same broad, relative, variable and adaptable concepts of a legalist and legalism by many of their leaders, they will automatically jump to the other extreme when they grow out of having a weak conscience; and will often leave Fundamentalism screaming legalism as they rashly dive into Evangelicalism, instead of becoming strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.

 

So far, I have indicated that the illogical reasoning that the weak conscience Christians falls into is caused by their weak conscience when they are dealing with things they have a weak conscience about. I have given extensive details of the illogical reasoning that freedom abusing strong conscience Christians use to develop the imaginary jackelope type critter called a legalist. However, I have not given extensive details of the illogical reasoning process that their weak conscience causes them to use. I shall do that now in the next few paragraphs.

 

If the Bible does not clearly state that something is sin, then I consider it a doubtful thing if some Christians believe the doubtful thing to be sin. Doubtful things are things that the Bible does not call sin, but weak conscience Christians are very likely to believe are sin. In the Apostle Paul’s time, the non-sinful leftover meat from the pagan sacrificial animals is considered sin because the animal it came from was associated with sinful pagan sacrificial worship. Some modern weak conscience Christians believe guitars are sin because they are often associated with the sinful life of rock stars. Their weak conscience is so overly sensitive that it shackles their reasoning ability, preventing them from thinking logically when they are thinking about doubtful things. Their weak conscience keeps them from being able to distinguish between non-sinful things and sinful things and practices when non-sinful things accompany sinful things and practices.

 

If the Bible does not directly call something sin, then the only other possibility we are left with is the possibility that the Bible might indirectly indicate that that something is sin. Deductive logic is the form of logic that God built into man that he expects us to use when determining what things God has indirectly revealed as sin in the Bible. An integral part the deductive reasoning process is syllogisms, which are arguments or form of reasoning in which two statements or premises (major and minor premises) are made and a logical conclusion is drawn from them. For the deductive conclusion to be true, the premises used to produce the deductive conclusion must all be 100% true. Let’s take for example the illogical reasoning used to produce the illogical conclusion that smoking and chewing tobacco are sin. The following is a restating of this example in syllogism form, as it would be given in formal logic classes in Christian Colleges and Seminaries.

 

Premise 1) Working ill to our neighbor is not fulfilling the law.

Premise 2) Not fulfilling the law is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 1) Working ill to our neighbor is transgression of the law.

 

Conclusion 1 from the above deductive logic sequence syllogism is then used as one of the premises in the next deductive logic sequence syllogism as follows.

 

Premise 3) Smoking and chewing tobacco works ill to our neighbors.

Premise 4) Working ill to our neighbors is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 2) Smoking and chewing tobacco is transgression of the law.

 

Conclusion 2 from the above deductive logic sequence syllogism is then used as one of the premises in the next deductive logic sequence syllogism as follows.

 

Premise 5) Smoking and chewing tobacco is transgression of the law.

Premise 6) Transgression of the law is sin.

Conclusion 3) Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin.

 

If any one or more of the above six premises is not 100% true, then conclusion 3 is not true. Premise 1, 2, 4, and 6 are 100% true. Premise 3 is not 100% true. Therefore, conclusion 2 and premise 5 are not 100% true. Therefore, conclusion 3 (Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin) is not true. Many Christians and non-Christians are not offended when they see, or are around, others that are smoking and chewing tobacco. That is, they do not feel that those that are smoking and chewing tobacco are working ill towards them. Therefore, Premise3 is not 100% true. Therefore, Conclusion 3 (Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin) is not true. Therefore, smoking and chewing tobacco are NOT sin.

 

Another illogical argument used by weak conscience Christians to try to prove that smoking and chewing tobacco are sin is the health argument based on the fact that smoking and chewing tobacco shorten a mans average life span by a few percent. The weak conscience of weak conscience Christians causes them to illogically try to use 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 to prove that smoking and chewing tobacco are sin. Those passages talk about Christians defiling the temple of the God and the temple of the Holy Spirit with sin. They are not talking about doubtful things that affect health by affecting the average life span of man. The weak conscience Christians are using the illogical reasoning of making an assumption that defiling the temple is also referring to health issues that may or may not shorten mans average life span by a few percent. Weak conscience Christians that use the health problem of shortening our average life span by a few percent, also often wind up committing the illogical reasoning of selectively applying it to only a few of the many things that we ingest into our bodies that affect the average life span of man. They only apply the argument to those items that they have a weak conscience about and not to the other things, which affects our average life span by a few percent. They are illogically inconsistent in applying the illogical health issue argument. Many meats and foods have been shown to shorten our average life span by a few percent, but the majority of weak conscience Christians do not believe those meats and foods are sin in themselves. The exact percent of the effect on our average life span depends on the amounts we consume.

 

Weak conscience Christians have at least two things that can cause them to use illogical reasoning when dealing with doubtful issues, which are their weak conscience and their sin nature. Strong conscience Christians have only one of those two things that can cause them to use illogical reasoning when dealing with doubtful issues, which is their sin nature. This reality helps me understand why God put more responsibility on the shoulders of strong conscience Christians to keep the peace than on the shoulders of weak conscience Christians. However, God has not let weak conscience Christian totally off the hook, since he has commanded them not to blasphemously judge or speak evil judgments of strong conscience Christians concerning doubtful things.

 

I believe that if there had been more open and above board strong conscience Christians bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians in the recent decades past, the blasphemous judging by the weak conscience Christians and the bitter despiteful attitude and despiteful judging by strong conscience Christians today would be much reduced from what it is. In figurative language, I have observed that many evangelical Christians consider strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians to be “spiritual wimps” that do not stand up for their freedoms in Christ since they bear the burden of weak conscience Christians. Many fundamental Christians consider strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians to be “spiritual wimps” that do not live spiritually holy lives since they do not have a weak conscience about doubtful things. If you want to be a popular Christian nowadays, you have to be, or act like, a weak conscience Christian that speaks blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians or you have to be, or act like, a strong conscience Christian that refuses to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians by exercising your freedoms in Christ in all areas of doubtful things and with much despite accuse weak conscience Christians of being legalists and Pharisees. Since the majority of Christians today are either weak conscience Christians that speak blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians or are strong conscience Christians who with much despite accuse weak conscience Christians of being legalists and Pharisees, the peer pressure is to conform to one of these two extremes; it appears that the majority of modern Christians do exactly that. Very few Christians today can withstand this peer pressure, and therefore do not become strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.

 

As you can tell from the context so far, I usually put my membership in a fundamental Church. Let me explain why I am a member of an independent fundamental Baptist Church. I see at least two major problems with Evangelical churches. The first is their involvement in ecclesiastical unequal yoking with liberal/apostate organizations, which gets them involved in the ecumenical movement. The second is domination by strong conscience Christians that refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians and despise weak conscience Christians. I have found only one major problem with the independent fundamental movement, which is domination by weak conscience Christians. Although I do not want the Church that I am a member of to be ecclesiastically yoked with the Evangelical movement, I still visit with Evangelical Christians. I also visit with Charismatic Christians.

 

From an idealistic standpoint, I would like to find a Church where the leadership and a high percentage of the membership are strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians and bear the burden of weak conscience unsaved folk. However, the percentage of modern Christians who are strong conscience Christians bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians appears to be too small for that to happen at this point in history.

 

During all these years, I have found that I have been almost alone in these conclusions. Therefore, at times, I have wondered if something is wrong with my reasoning ability. If you feel that my reasoning ability is faulty and has led me to the wrong conclusions, please make great effort to show me what is faulty in my reasoning. If my reasoning is faulty, it would be nice to have it corrected before it is time for the Lord to take me home.

 

 

Appendix A) Dictionary definitions of legalism:

 

1. In the (Webster's New Collegiate), (Webster's Clear Type Dictionary) the definition is: Legalism (n) — strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code.

 

2. In the English dictionary (American Heritage Dictionary) the definition is: Legalism (n) — strict and literal adherence to the law.

 

3. In the (Oxford English Dictionary) definition is: Legalism (n) — The principles of those who hold a theological position of adhering to the Law as opposed to the Gospel; the doctrine of Justification by Works, or teaching which savours of that doctrine.

 

4. In the 1994 (The Merriam Webster Dictionary) the definitions are: Legalism (n) — 1) strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code. 2) a legal term.

 

5. In the 1972 (Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American language) the definitions are: Legalism (n) — 1) strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code. 2) Theol. The doctrine of salvation by good works.

 

6. In the 1828 Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary Of The English Language the word "legalism" is not listed, but the words "legal" and "legality" are listed and do have theological definitions as follows:

Legal (adj)— 1) According to law; as a legal standard or test; a legal procedure. 2) Lawful; permitted by law; as a legal trade. Any thing is legal which the laws do not forbid. 3) According to the law of works, as distinguished from free grace; or resting on works for salvation. Scott. Milton. 4) Pertaining to law; created by law.

Legality (n) — 1) Lawfulness; conformity to law. 2) In theology, a reliance on works for salvation.

 

7. In the 2001 (Webster’s New World College Dictionary) the definitions are as follows:

Legal (adj)— 1) of, created by, based upon, or authorized by law. 2) in conformity with the positive rules of law; permitted by law[a legal act]. 3) that can be enforced in a court of law [legal rights]. 4) of or applicable to lawyers [legal ethics]. 5) in terms of the law [a legal offense]. 6) Theology a) of the Mosaic law. b) of the doctrine of salvation by good works rather than free grace.

Legalism (n) — 1) strict, often to strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code. 2) Theology – the doctrine of salvation by good works. — legalist (n) – legalistic (adj) – legalistically (adv)

Legality (n) — 1) quality, condition, or instance of being legal or lawful 2) legal aspects.

 

 

Appendix B) Some definitions of legalism given by modern day Christians:

 

1. "Legalism is the belief that a person must act a certain way so that God will bless, help, and prosper him. Legalism tells why one does or does not do something. Legalistic people work for God's blessing, they confuse cause and result, they misunderstand grace. Legalism is wrong. Avoid it. —- Legalism is against salvation by grace, spirituality by grace, and the freedom to live the Christian way of life apart from pressure imposed by self and others, by taboo lists, by checklists of right things, by a religious community (Gal. 4:8-11; 5:1-5). —- Legalistic people replace Bible doctrine and the spirit of Bible doctrine with human standards (Mt. 12:1-8; 15:1-3). — LEGALISTIC PEOPLE ATTEMPT TO FORCE THEIR LIFESTYLE UPON OTHERS AND THEREBY JUDGE AND INTERFERE IN THE FREEDOM OF OTHER BELIEVERS (Jn. 7:19-24; ROM. 14:1-12; Gal 2:1-5). — Pride, self-righteousness, and a critical mental attitude characterize legalists and perpetuate legalism (Mt. 12:10; Lk. 18:9-12; Gal. 2:3-5; 6:12-13). — Current day expressions of legalism in the Christian way of life are praying regularly; giving money; Bible reading; denying certain enjoyments; following a cultural list of wrongs; not committing certain sins; personality imitation; relativity of sin; church attendance; emotional response to God, to doctrine, to church, and other believers; taboos to avoid; good behavior." By Tod M. Kennedy. The full document can be found at /library/The_Reading_Room/NotesOutlinesHelps_1/Legalism.

 

2. "Legalism is a religious system that teaches that a person can do something to earn or merit salvation or blessing from God. — It is legalism, however, to think that by maintaining high standards you are some how doing something to merit salvation or to earn blessings or rewards. — The word "legalism" also refers to any merit system which operates by works, by which a person tries to please God, or to assist God, or to glorify God by human power. — Religious legalism also refers to any system of religious bondage imposed on someone by another individual, or by an organization, that attempts to make that person a practitioner of legalism. Bullying tactics are often used: — So, while it is not legalism to have high standards, it is legalism to try to impose those standards on others as a system of spirituality. — There are four principal spiritual transactions in which works are not accepted by God: salvation, spirituality, maturity, and reward. —Legalism in Christian living: Taboos: thinking one is spiritual because he doesn't do certain things or follows a certain do's and don'ts; Imitating personalities: the idea that living the Christian life is conformity in dress, mannerisms, speech, etc.; Relative righteousness: "your sins are worse than mine, therefore I am more spiritual" or "I am spiritual and you are carnal." Ecstatics: spirituality by speaking in tongues, groaning, getting in a trance, fainting; Asceticism: spirituality by self-sacrifice or extreme self denial, giving up normal activities, or even necessities in the mistaken notion that God is impressed; Ritual: idea that one is spiritual because he goes through various forms of ceremony or ritual; Confusing means with results: the idea that you are spiritual if you are faithful in praying, giving, witnessing, attending church, and so forth. But, these legitimate activities are a result of Christian growth and the filling of the Holy Spirit. They are not the means for spirituality or growth in Christ. — ROMANS 14 HAS A SPLENDID DESCRIPTION OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEGALISTIC PERSON WHO IS CALLED THE " WEAKER BROTHER". " The full document can be found at http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/ice/legalism.html.

 

3. "Legalism is the compelling of another believer to practice or not practice something not expressly commanded or forbidden under Grace. — For example, if you in your freedom under Grace decide to observe the Sabbath in some way, you are perfectly free to do so, you have not sinned. You are NOT free however, to impose your choice on another believer and expect him to observe something contained in the Law of Moses just because you do. Doing this is called committing the sin of legalism and it is wrong. — Some other areas of legalism that are common are in the drinking of alcoholic beverages, clothing, and tithing." By Pastor Pat Forrestal. The full document can be found at http://www.ohana.com/~pforrest/legalism.htm.

 

4. "Legalism is a philosophy of religious practice wherein faith is expressed by adherence to a command and obedience infrastructure. — The place where legalism finds its most ubiquitous expression is in the evangelical, conservative, fundamentalist community." The full document can be found at http://www.fishernet.com/counselng/journl2.htm.

 

5. "Legalism is the teaching that sinners are saved (justified, sanctified and accepted with God) upon the basis of their own works of legal obedience." These quotes are from a document titled "Damnable Heresies" by Don Fortner. The full document can be found at http://www.grace-for-today.com/42.htm.

 

6. "Legalism is that idea that one earns or merits salvation by their obedience." This quote is from a document titled "Keeping The Commandments Of God" and can be found at http://ccel.wheaton.edu/contrib/exec_outlines/nt/nt_05.htm.

 

7. "Legalism is conforming to a code or system of deeds and observances in the energy of the flesh, hoping to gain the blessing and favor of God by such acts. Legalism invariably denies the principle of grace and exalts the pride of man. The book of Galatians was written as a "magna Carta" against such practices." This definition was given by Charles R. Swindall in the year of 1967 in a document called "Friday Bible Class 759" while he was Pastor at the Waltham Evangelical Free Church at Waltham, Massachusetts.

 

8. "Legalism is the belief that keeping the law and its requirements is essential for salvation and Christian growth (Gal. 3:1-3)." By David L. Hocking over a radio broadcast program.

 

9. "Legalism is an attitude, a mentality based on pride. It is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself. A legalist assumes the place of authority and pushes it to unwarranted extremes. — In so many words, legalism says, "I do this or I don't do that, and therefore I am pleasing God." Or "If only I could do this or not do that, I would be pleasing to God." Or perhaps, "These things that I'm doing or not doing are the things I perform to win God's favor." They aren't spelled out in Scripture, you understand. They've been passed down or they have been dictated to the legalist and have become an obsession to him or her. Legalism is rigid, grim, exacting, and law-like in nature. Pride, which is at the heart of legalism, works in sync with other motivating factors. Like guilt. And fear. And shame. It leads to an emphasis on what should not be, and what one should not do. It flourishes in a drab context of negativism." (Charles R. Swindoll, "The Grace Awakening", pages 81and 82, published in 1990). ——————— "In addition, He has also brought a glorious freedom from the curse of the Law. BY THAT I MEAN FREEDOM FROM THE CONSTANCY OF ITS DEMANDS TO PERFORM IN ORDER TO PLEASE GOD AND/OR OTHERS. It is a freedom from the fear of condemnation before God as well as from an accusing conscience. FREEDOM FROM THE DEMANDS OF OTHER PEOPLE, FROM ALL THE SHOULDS AND OUGHTS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC." (Charles R. Swindoll, "The Grace Awakening", pages 79and 80, published in 1990). ——————- "To paraphrase those verses we just read from Romans (14:13-18): "NOTHING THAT IS NOT SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED AS EVIL IN SCRIPTURE IS EVIL—-BUT RATHER A MATTER OF ONE'S PERSONAL PREFERENCE or taste. So let it be. Even if you personally would not do what another is doing, let it be. And you who feel the freedom to do so, don't flaunt it or mock those who disagree. We are in the construction business, not destruction. And let's all remember that God's big-picture kingdom plan is not being shaped by SMALL THINGS LIKE WHAT ONE PERSON PREFERS OVER ANOTHER, but by large things, like righteousness and peace and joy."" (Charles R. Swindoll, "The Grace Awakening", pages 167, published in 1990).

 

10. "The great weapon of authoritarianism, secular or religious, is legalism: the manufacturing and manipulation of rules for the purpose of illegitimate control." By Daniel Taylor, "The Myth of Certainty" (Waco, TX: Word, 1986), pages 34-36.

 

11. "Legalism may be defined as a fleshly attitude which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self. The code is whatever objective standard is applicable to the time; the motive is to exalt self and gain merit rather than to glorify God because of what He has done, and the power is the flesh, not the Holy Spirit" (Charles Ryrie, "The Grace of God", page 117).

 

12. "It cannot be emphasized too strongly that having to do something is not legalism, but the wrong attitude is —– Israelites had to bring their sacrifices, otherwise they would have suffered certain penalties. It was the attitude toward doing what they had to do that determined whether or not their action was legalistic —— Having to conform to a law is not of itself legalism" (Charles Ryrie, "The Grace of God", pages 117-118)

 

13. "The slide over two generation of time, from lordship (where Biblical principles were understood and external standards were implemented) to legalism (where Biblical principles were ignored and external standards were exalted) to libertinism (where Biblical principles are forgotten and external standards are despised) has produced a scandalous variety of Christianity). (page 114) —— Unfortunately, the next generation, the one immediately preceding ours, tended to focus on the externals of outward morality, which had characterized their parents; and seemed to overlook the essentials of inward integrity, which were the real roots of their visible life style. This glaring oversight was further complicated by the fact that their parents tended to pass on the external standards without explaining the Biblical principles. In an authoritarian era, it's not difficult to see how this could happen. The effect was the development of a classical form of legalism (conformity to an outward code as a sign of spirituality), which corrupted true spirituality by shifting the focus from the internal to the external. Today's generation has in large part forgotten the principle of lordship, which characterized their grandparents and reacted to the practice of legalism, which characterized their parents. The result has been the development of a classical form of libertinism, which buys into an unprincipled and standardless form of Christianity, and which is very much like the world, while remaining very much unlike Jesus Christ. This tragic slide, over two generations of time, from lordship (where Biblical principles were understood and external standards were implemented) to legalism (where Biblical principles were ignored and external standards were exalted) to libertinism (where Biblical principles are forgotten and external standards are despised) has produced a scandalous variety of Christianity which is incapable of either confronting the culture of restraining its evil. pages 138-139. ——- THERE IS THE PRINCIPLE OF ENDANGERMENT (1 CORINTHIANS 8:9-13). HERE IS A SECTION OF SCRIPTURE DEALING WITH OUR RESPONSIBILITY OF PROTECTIVE CARE FOR YOUNGER AND WEAKER CHRISTIANS." page 124. ———- "Of course, we must develop a hierarchy of priorities when it comes to familial separation. OVER MATTERS OF PREFERENCE WE MAY CERTAINLY DIFFER, BUT WE SHOULD NOT DIVIDE. We shall have to determine whether or not our dispute is constitutional or merely superficial. If there is no clear-cut "thus saith the Lord," we shouldn't judge and neither should we separate (ROMANS 14:10-13). There are two opposite and equally destructive options open to us as Christians. One is to see no basis for separation at all. THE OTHER IS TO SEE EVERY LITTLE DIFFERENCE AS A BASIS FOR SEPARATION AMONG GOD'S PEOPLE. If the first option is a manifestation of naivete, THE SECOND IS A MANIFESTATION OF HERESY, WHICH AT ITS ROOT MEANS "A PERSON WHO WITHOUT JUSTIFICATION CREATES DIVISION." And neither naiveté nor heresy will do for authentic Christians." pages 132-133. By Douglas R. McLachlan, "Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism", American Association of Christian Schools, 1993.

 

14. "legalism. An insistence upon the observation of human regulations, as if one's fellowship with God were dependent upon that observation. In N. T. times, another form of legalism insisted upon the observation of O. T. rules and ceremony, which had been fulfilled in Christ and thus were no longer binding upon the Christian. The letter to the Galatians was written to attack legalism and assert Christian freedom." From the glossary in the "The Believers Study Bible" by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.

 

15. “A weak brother is a Christian who, because of the weakness of his faith, knowledge, conscience, and will, can be influenced to sin against his conscience by the example of a differing stronger brother.” page 405. “Beware of becoming a Pharisee (Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1; ROMANS 14:3).” Page 420. By Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson, “Decision Making & the Will of God”, Multnomah Press, 1980.

 

16. “The term legalism commonly denotes preoccupation with form at the expense of substance. While it is now used metaphorically in all areas of human life, it appears to have had a theological origin in the seventeenth century, when Edward Fisher used it to designate ‘one who bringeth the Law into the case of Justification’ (The Marrow of Modern Divinity, 1645). No equivalent term existed in the biblical languages. However, the idea is found in both Testaments.”  This quote is from the “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”. Edited by Walter A. Elwell — Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.

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