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Thread: Three Signs of Legalism

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    Senior Member Pete Vecchi's Avatar

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    Three Signs of Legalism

    Here's a good little article:

    http://blog.newreflectionscounseling...Parenting.aspx

    While the title refers to parenting, I think that the same principles can hold true to the local congregation as well. I sure am glad that our congregation has made significant steps away from legalism over the past few years!
    Thanks David Graham, Gina Stevenson, Paul DeBaufer - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    The first point is something I still see and by well meaning Christians. I had a conversation recently in which it was clear that I had to parrot certain Christian [pious] phrases. I refuse to do so because I know that those phrases are more important to that other person than what is going on inside my heart.
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


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    Senior Member Jon Bemis's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    This struck me:
    "Someone focused primarily on grace will treat membership and maturity differently. With a grace-oriented paradigm, membership is achieved without having to perform. A baby is born into a family having been automatically granted membership."
    This is an area I think the COTN needs to do something about. We expect people to get good enough before they can join. For example - requiring that someone who's addicted to smoking quit before they become a member.
    Loving God . . . Loving others.

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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    Jon, that would require a complete makeover over our ideas about church and holiness. Are we a society of saints, or a hospital for sinners? That may happen, but it might take a while.
    Love the sinner, hate the sin? Love the sinner and hate your own sin! - Tony Campolo

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    Senior Member Pete Vecchi's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Bemis View Post
    This struck me:
    "Someone focused primarily on grace will treat membership and maturity differently. With a grace-oriented paradigm, membership is achieved without having to perform. A baby is born into a family having been automatically granted membership."
    This is an area I think the COTN needs to do something about. We expect people to get good enough before they can join. For example - requiring that someone who's addicted to smoking quit before they become a member.
    I don't disagree Jon. At the same time, I don't think that the author of this particular piece is necessarily talking about official church membership. It seems that in all Nazarene congregations in which I have had a part in the past 20 years, there have been people who haven't been part of the official membership who were definitely part of the congregation's "family"--whatever the reason they hadn't officially joined the membership.

    That being said, I do sometimes wonder if there are times when, because of our denominational rules, we are more or less saying to some people, "You're good enough for Jesus, but not good enough yet for the Church of the Nazarene."

    That question has crossed my mind a number of times over the years...

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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    I have seen churches and individuals that would proclaim that they are more concerned with your relationship with Christ as number three suggests is how it should be. But in practice they are more concerned with where you are, what you are doing. They use all the right words so you might think that they are not entwined in legalism, but as the article starts out, "it can be subtle and therefore hard to know for sure when you are dealing with it."
    You can be right or you can be in relationship

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    Senior Member Todd Erickson's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    "if you were really a disciple, you would be..."

    We talk about how people aren't reading their bibles enough.

    We talk about how people aren't praying enough.

    We talk about how people aren't tithing enough.

    We talk about how people aren't stepping up to be leaders in Christ.

    We talk about how people aren't stepping up to be followers in Christ.

    We talk about how people don't have enough social justice in their lives.

    We talk about how people aren't doing enough witnessing.

    Etc.

    What is missing from our lives that we always have to struggle with all of the things that we aren't doing, and we mostly don't have a passion to just do them? You can't legislate passion. But you can't fake it, either.
    Thanks Paul DeBaufer - "thanks" for this post

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    Host Fun & Prayer forums Gina Stevenson's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    The phrase that really stood out was about a goal being to clone others.

    Oh, my goodness! How many times I've had to tell someone here you do NOT endlessly keep trying to clone your kids(!!!) ... would be rich having a couple bucks for esch such reminder.
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    His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5 (NLT)

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    That being said, I do sometimes wonder if there are times when, because of our denominational rules, we are more or less saying to some people, "You're good enough for Jesus, but not good enough yet for the Church of the Nazarene."
    Yep, for years that is exactly how I felt.... especially on our Northern Australia District. For years I thought that I was unworthy or bearly worthy of being a member, and so I would "strive" to do better..... but never feel fully accepted!

    That all changed when I went to a church where our boys were involved in their youth group. Immediately all of us felt unconditional love and acceptance, even though we were new comers from a nearly "unknown denomination". I was still a Nazarene minister having some time out because of burn-out when we first started attending that church regularly, and within two or three weeks we had already made deep friendships with a number of families including the minister and his wife..... something I think we failed to do the whole time we were with the CoTN. The best part I think, was that we could simply be ourselves and still feel loved.

    No wonder I'm still happy with them some 10 years later......
    Thanks Gina Stevenson, Susan Unger, Valisha Trammell Hall - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Vecchi View Post

    That being said, I do sometimes wonder if there are times when, because of our denominational rules, we are more or less saying to some people, "You're good enough for Jesus, but not good enough yet for the Church of the Nazarene."

    That question has crossed my mind a number of times over the years...
    It is a great question, and one that still dates back to the founding of the COTN. I really believe that Bresee et al were trying to differentiate themselves from society. But they still were ministering to the downtrodden, addicted and lower rungs of the social ladder. And somewhere in there 20th Century legalism set us back, way back, in our approach to people outside the church.

    This will be a wrenching change for the COTN, will likely produce a schismatic movement complete with name-calling websites and the like. I keep telling my congregation that we are closer to the 1st Century church than we are to the 19th Century church. In this area, it will be similar to the Judaizers and their ilk who were putting conditions on the faith. It saddens me to say this, it really does. Mostly likely my ministry will be over before this is resolved.
    Thanks David Graham, Paul DeBaufer, Susan Unger - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: Three Signs of Legalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Vecchi
    "You're good enough for Jesus, but not good enough yet for the Church of the Nazarene."
    It is nice when this is truly our attitude, and I hope it is more often than not. However, I feel that for some if you're not good enough for the church you're not good enough for Jesus' either. Also, this latter may be the impression that the "not good enoughs" may walk away with even when your statement is truly the attitude.
    You can be right or you can be in relationship
    Thanks Todd Erickson, Roy Richardson - "thanks" for this post

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