In a recent post on his blog, Wade Burleson quoted an article written in 1990 by Mike Huckabee (Southern Baptist minister, former pastor, former President of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, former Arkansas Governor, and current candidate for the President of the United States). I thought Huckbee's words were worth sharing here:
“The ‘L’ word that may characterize our greatest threat is not liberalism but legalism. If all the liberals in Arkansas Baptist churches held a meeting, they could meet in the corner booth of a Waffle House and still have room for guests.
Legalism is the reduction of the whole of the Bible to a rather limited system of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ that the one espousing already lives. By carefully limiting ‘right and wrong’ to those beliefs or practices one already adheres to, the legalist is able to always be right and never wrong. Convenient system to be sure. It requires no struggle of conscience, no agonizing soul-searching, no brokenness. Others aren’t judged by the character of Christ, but by the behavior of the legalist.
Legalism is not limited to the theological camp of the conservatives, moderates or anyone in between or beyond. Like a worthless weed, it grows in whatever soil it is planted and is capable of choking out anything that gets in its way without ever producing fruit of value.
Biblical faith is sure about God, but never so sure about self. Legalistic faith is sure of self, and may or may not be as sure of God and His Word. A legalist questions everyone else’s motives and mission, but never sees a need to question his own. A strong Christian is not only interested in believing right, but living right. A strong Christian should want others to be more like Jesus, not more ‘like me.’
We do not live under ‘Lord Law,’ ‘Lord Tradition,’ ‘Lord Religion’ or even ‘Lord Belief.’ We are saved when we confess ‘Lord Jesus.’ When He is Lord, we learn a new ‘L’ word – love. Jesus said that the world would know we belonged to Him not because we worship the same, believe the same or even live the same, but because we love one another.”