I am thankful for good books on Bible characters. We are going through Charles Swindoll’s book on the life of the Apostle Paul. However, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything Swindoll has written. I think we sometimes get lost in a sea of theological extremes and opinions. The Bible through the Spirit’s illumination needs to pull us back. Our attitude should be prayerful and God-dependent. However, we also must clearly stand for truth.
Dr. Dave Doran wrote a two-part article answering the charges of legalism and its connection to fundamentalism by men like John MacArthur and Charles Swindoll for Frontline back in 1999. It’s worth reading or re-reading. The only place I could find the article online is at the website for Salina Bible Church. I quite agree with Dr. Doran. I am a fundamentalist without apology. While I have been Pharisaical at times in the past, my last bout with legalism was when I was still a member of the Catholic church. It is there that I depended upon my own self-righteousness for the salvation of my soul. I hope you’ll take the time to read these articles. Also, come join us at a Heritage Baptist Church tomorrow! Hopefully, you’ll find believers who love the Word and the God of the Word.
Here’s the conclusion, which I hope whets the appetite to read both parts.
While it is unlikely that any Fundamentalists are seeking to earn righteousness with God through the works of the law, it is possible that some Fundamentalists have fallen prey to the Pharisaical spirit that is so controlled by people’s opinions that it perpetuates external conformity without internal devotion. However, honest evaluation would reveal that this is not a Fundamentalist problem; it is a humanity problem! God told us 3,000 years ago that “the fear of man brings a snare,” so it should not surprise us to find people continually trapped in the snare of conformity for the sake of approval. It certainly happens among Fundamentalists, but it happens just as frequently among evangelicals. The symptoms may vary, but it is the same disease.
God’s grace has provided His righteousness for us by faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the law (Rom. 3:21-22), and that same grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). As Fundamentalists, we should affirm these truths without apology and live them out without fear of false accusations or surrender to the opinion polls of people.
Are Fundamentalists Legalists?