Monday, January 21, 2008

Christian Liberty and the Dangers Legalism and Libertinism

Christian Liberty is a dicey issue. I do not have a good grasp of what it means. I have begun to study the subject. I tend to lean towards legalism and have to constantly check my motives. Others may tend to lean towards libertinism. Both extremes are equally wrong. John MacArthur gives a good illustration of the Christian struggle between the two extremes in his article: "What is Christian Liberty?"

"Let me illustrate how Christianity relates to the extremes of legalism and libertinism: Christianity resembles a narrow bridge spanning a place where two streams come together. One of those streams is crystal clear, but contains treacherous and deadly rapids; it symbolizes legalism--it appears to be a source of righteousness, but you can't stay afloat in it. Legalism will smash you on its rocks. The other stream is polluted libertinism-- if you fall into it, you will drown because of its filth. Therefore, the Christian must maintain his balance on the bridge between the treachery of legalism and the filth of libertinism. Christians who have fallen into the rapids of legalism destroy the effectiveness of their spiritual lives. Those who are wallowing in the vices of libertinism put themselves in line for divine discipline. Galatians 5:13-16 tell us how to stay on the bridge."

One must be vigilant to stay on the bridge.

Another good article was penned by Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason which was entitled "Christian Liberty".

Hopefully I will learn to apply the idea of Christian Liberty to my life.
Hopefully my posts will help you better understand the issue.


(H.T. Monergism)


The Reformed Pastor said...

The sermon by MacArthur was good. Sadly, I hardly consider if my actions offend the Christians around me. The first thing that comes into my mind is that people should get over their problems. Thanks for the article which pointed this out to me.

The article by Gregory Koukl was interesting. He had a very simple (one could say too simple) approach to this question: An explicit prohibition in the Bible is needed to say all Christians must heed the command. Because of the shortness of the article and because I believe I know where he is coming from I don't have a problem with it. But to get the full answer one would have to get the meaning of "explicit prohibition". Because there is no passage in the Bible that says, "do not smoke weed." Can I then smoke weed and other harmful drugs? So, I would like a better understanding of what he means with "explicit prohibition."

He seemed, also, to advocate a dualistic understand of Paul and inspiration. Meaning there were times God was speaking through Paul and there were times God was not. The last sentence of the second paragraph says that unless Paul said something along the lines of "This is a direct teaching of the Lord," it is not to be considered applying to all Christians of all times. Was he meaning to say one thing but it just came out like this? I don’t know.

That is what I got from the article anyway.

RC said...

Good points. I believe you are correct about Koukl's simplistic approach. I do not have time now to analyze it farther, but hopefully I will in the future. Getting Christian Liberty right is a delicate matter.