Legalism, the “strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit,” can stilt our growth in Christ. Our lives can be so enslaved with “dos” and “don’ts” that we miss out on the joy and freedom of living in the Spirit.
In Wisdom Hunter: A Novel by Randall Arthur, Jason is a powerful, influential church leader; but tragedy strikes, and he finds himself in a serious crisis of faith. His journey to find his only surviving relative, his little grand-daughter, leads him on a quest for truth and wisdom. Here are some of the truths he learned about the enslaving hypocrisy of legalistic Christianity:
- God-in-a-box theology is not aligned with what the Bible teaches us about God.
- Jason had to learn to “think for himself for a while, apart from the predigested ideas and interpretations found in his books.” He needed “to cut through everything man teaches and assumes, and learn what God reveals about life.”
- Jason realized that in seminary he was taught what to think, not how to think.
- He realized how much he had misinterpreted the Bible, because he looked at it through the filter of traditions.
- He had become more influenced by peer pressure than by Spirit pressure.
- Sometimes when Christianity has been in a country for so long, it can become more defined by the country’s culture than by Bible teachings.
- Jesus compares evangelism with sowing seeds, not swinging swords.
- God is full of love and mercy.
This list could go on, but I’ll stop here and leave you to savor these morsels of truth.