We’ve all met legalistic Christians. Christians who expect others to worship, live, and think like them. They judge other Christians harshly. It’s their way or the highway–to hell. In a handbasket. You could call them self-righteous.
Well, every now and then a legalistic Christian recovers. Will Davis Jr is such a Christian. He wrote a book containing what he describes as his “confessions of a recovering legalist.” The book’s title is, “10 Things Jesus Never Said.” You can watch a video of him below introducing himself and the book. You can also read the recent book review by Christianity Today.
It’s important to agree on the essentials of the Christian doctrine. But Christians tragically push their personal convictions onto other Christians. As though their personal convictions are fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith.
Saint Augustine summerizes it best in famous quote that says, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
What are essentials of the faith? They are the core beliefs of Christianity. Things like “Jesus died on the cross for our sins.” This is a basic, fundamental belief. But then there are non-essential beliefs. Things like drinking alcohol. Some Christians think it’s wrong to drink. Others don’t. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say one way or the other. (Although it does speak about getting intoxicated. That one should not get drunk.) For non-essential beliefs like this one, we should have “liberty” to make our own decision, based on prayer and reading the Bible of course. And we shouldn’t judge other Christians who believe differently than us on non-essential beliefs.
Legalistic Christians often like to quote 1 Corinthians 8:9 which says, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” While this is an important scripture, legalistic Christians manipulate it to fit their misguided agenda. They feel it authorizes them to halt any liberty practiced by a fellow member of their church to which they don’t ascribe.
There’s a local pastor in my area who preached on this portion of scripture. Pastor Aaron Campbell of Antioch Fellowship. He does a great job examining this (often controversial and touchy) topic. Click here to listen to his sermon.Question: What are your thoughts about the above video? Do you know any legalistic Christians? Were you once a legalistic Christian? Do you believe Christians should not push their personal convictions onto others? You can leave a comment by clicking here.