Evangelical legalism

W. Harold Fuller's account of the World Evangelical Fellowship gives this very true insight on how evangelicals tend to deviate towards legalism, that I believe is a tendency for all who really seek to live a life worthy of the Gospel.

I find this quote insightful since I'm often caught in a debate between charity and doctrinal purity. I always find myself asking if in evangelical circles the question of doctrinal purity is actually a manifestation of our love for doctrine more than our brethren?

Why is it that for a people who claimed to have been saved by grace it is very difficult for us evangelicals to exhibit God's grace?

Perhaps this excerpt from Fuller gives us useful insight for theological reflection:

Ironically, evangelicals can become as legalistic as the systems they eschew. This tendency may arise from the concern for truth, but truth that is encased in narrow traditions or culture can become hardened legalism.

'What is the essence of the Christian life?' asks Henry Brglez. Is it something we simply do for God? Calvin called that "legal worship." Or is the Christian life a gift for us to participate in the Son's communion with the Father? Unless we carefully work out what our relationship as believers to Christ is, we can very easily fall victim to a man-centered Christianity, promoting sself-justification and exclusivity because we based everything on our response, not on God's initiative.'

Evangelicals must constantly resist all such temptations and tendencies, for believer's only raison d' etre is Christ himself. The author of Hebrews warned his readers that 'we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.' (Hebrews 2:1)

- W. Harold Fuller,
People of the Mandate - The story of the World Evangelical Fellowship

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