Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Can legalism stop indulgence?

Modern SBC approved forms of legalism are touted as helpful in stopping us sinners nature from running wild. But Paul doesn't seam to agree. In his blog to the Colossians he argues that promoting self-made religion has no value against the flesh.

"Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)--according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:21-23 ESV)

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4 comments:

Robin said...

Paul's "blog to the Colossians..."

that's a new one to me, lol, so I'm thinking maybe there isn't anything new under the sun.

Always something to contemplate over here--whether it's yours, Tony, or one of your "friends".

Mike N. said...

Thanks, Tony, for Paul's thoughts from Blogossians. Interesting that he goes on to say to the believers, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." I think I'd have to consider an alcohol an earthly debate. I suppose those in Nashville Whine Country disagree. Apparently Four Spiritual Laws wasn't good enough; now we must have laws about spirits.

BTW, I was initially skeptical about Paul's blog to the Colossians, 'til I thought about Job, possibly the oldest volume ever written--the setup is blogesque, don't you think? Posts by Job, comments by Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, and Elihu. Last word by God, no server necessary. Anyway...

Mike N. said...

Is it possible that in the end, legalism may end up doing more damage in the convention than liberalism? Remember that it was legalists Jesus was addressing in Matthew 23:15: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

Not only does legalism not stop indulgence, it fuels a desire to toe the line, to get as close to that sin as possible without going over. (Kind of a "The Price is Right" mentality, I suppose.) Anyone who has children or has ever worked with them has seen this mentality active in little ones. We obsess over the sin rather than think upon Christ, who saves us from sin itself. Let us become Philippians 4:8 Christians rather than Colossians 2:21 Christians. Maybe the problem is that we're just not pragmatic enough!

I suppose it is comforting for some to know that when we produce self-righteous prigs, idolaters, and legalists, at least we're producing sober ones who won't be dancing.

DISCLAIMER: Regarding the specific issue, let it be noted that I don't drink, and I'm not desiring that other people would. I am saying, though, that when we're advising an adult (specifically, a parent) about drinking, we can make a more convincing logical appeal for abstinence than a textual one. I do affirm Sola Scriptura, but only in what Scripture affirms. To try to make prohibitions against drunkenness be absolute commands about abstinence seems disingenuous.

Tony K. said...

“Blog to the Colossians” was a phrase that I wrote without much reflection. So Mike is right to be skeptical. But Paul was using the best communication means he had available to reach a wide audience. Good point about Job, it does sound like a comment thread – with God having the final word.