Problems of Liberalism vs Legalism in the Church
Which direction is your Church heading in. Almost all Churches tend to head slowly one way or the other. Both directions have their dangers.
Liberal & Legalism defined:
Liberalism promotes love and minimizes law; while legalism majors in law and minimizes love. Both liberals and legalists have moved from what the scripture teaches and this causes havoc within the Church. With both groups they may be true Christians, but their faith becomes shallow.
Liberalists tend to become worldly and little difference is noticed from the Christian and the world.
Legalists preach God's law to fanatical extremes; and they lack love, care and compassion that are the essence of true Christianity.
We are all vulnerable to lean either toward liberalism vs legalism; to some extent; and the corporate Church is no different. As human beings there may be a predisposition toward either legalism or liberalism as our personalities play out.
To the extreme the Legalist believes that faith in Jesus requires additional works, especially those done within the church building they attend each week. They tend to focus on the notion that sin can cause a person to “lose their salvation” and go to Hell. They push heavily on regular church attendance, involvement in ministry and serving, usually have strict dress codes and other rules of behaviour. The Legalist also is a very busy individual; always keeping up with their religious duties and daily rituals. They take pride in their work and it gives them a sense of self-worth. Legalists would come off with an air of perfection in their outward appearance and lifestyle and look down at those who fall into any sin.
Liberals teach that no other work is required because, “It’s not by works, but by faith we are saved” which is all true, though they may not realize that true faith is followed by works. The believer is eternally secure and they can never fall away or lose their salvation and are guaranteed a ticket into Heaven; often referred to as “eternal security” or "once saved always saved". In its extreme, Hell is never talked about and Satan is seldom mentioned from the pulpit. They believe it doesn’t apply to them.
Church leadership seldom preach on repentance and wickedness; and rebuke is something done very seldom in the Liberal Churches. It is often understood that people will simply grow out of their sin on their life journey. Liberals don't deal with sin all under the umbrella of “love”. The majority of the brethren aren’t striving to be Holy or to be set apart in Christ. The Liberal Church tends to make everyone that dawns the door comfortable, since there is no conviction of sin or no preaching against worldly behaviours in the messages. The Church should be an uncomfortable place for the unsaved to be; as well as the believer who is involved with unconfessed sin in their life. These Churches even have allowed people into their leadership who live in lifestyles of sin which should not be.
There is no dress code, like the legalists would have, but they promote the motto: “Come as you are, we have no dress code here". This can cuse its own problem since woman and young girls come to Church dressed very provocatively and sensuously and behaving like the world. This often becomes a problem because woman become a stumbling block for some of the men. Services often become a form of entertainment with worldly music and other antics; and with so mnay distractions that would take away what little may be gained in the messages.
Some Churches are in the beginning stages of leaning in one direction or the other; so you may not see the extremes practiced yet that I mention here; but you may begin to notice a few things even subtlely creeping in the the direction the Church is taken.