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Monday, November 29, 2010

A Steadfast response to charges of legalism

Stacy McDonald has responded to charges of legalism, both at Steadfast Daughters and her personal blog Your Sacred Calling. Classically, I felt the need to compose a lengthy [and probably inarticulate] reply, which I posted on YSC. 

I am very irked at the steadfast refusal to address specific concerns, and the equally steadfast assumption that 'quivering daughters' are by and large still the guilty parties. 

The Romans 14 quote is one which ought to be at the forefront of any movement which claims to combat legalism [all too often, it isn't]. 
However, I see a gap between what that verse prescribes and the application that I think you would extend it to. 
It is, I think, fair to assume that the person who 'eats everything' could be compared to 'Quivering Daughters' and their allies. 
Hence, we can also assume that the person who 'does not eat everything', because he feels it wrong, is represented by 'Steadfast Daughters'.
In my experience, those who hold to the Steadfast Daughters view are 1) 'not eating everything' which we are told we must NOT treat with contempt [Romans 14:3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.] but also, 2), they are judging those who do not believe as they do. 
This is the key point.  I hope that none of those who battle against legalism would object to an individual's opinions on whether it is right for them to do anything from only wear skirts, to decline to attend college. The line becomes blurred when one individual would seek to impose that idea on their entire family, and it is crossed entirely when an individual or an organization teaches an entire community that it is wrong for all of them to attend college or leave home. [Usual disclaimer applies: those are examples, I would prefer not to debate whether or not you or your followers have actually taught those exact things.] 
The examples you gave of the four people who might be called legalists, did not fit my definition of legalism.  However, had there been any suggestion that, for instance, Jennifer imposed her dietary restrictions on her sister-in-law, or indicated that following Mosaic dietary laws is the only 'correct' action, then I would have indeed cried 'Legalism!'. 

You talk about false accusations of legalism rather a lot in this post. Do you 1) believe that false accusations are being made about the actions of those in the patriarchy movement? or 2) the actions they have committed are not legalistic? or 3) a combination of the above? 
I agree with your view, that those of us who say we have left legalism are still prone to it. 
I also agree with your reader's comment: 'Calling others legalistic based on outward appearance is itself legalistic and hypocritical.' 
However, it is not legalistic to state that a person's beliefs as imposed upon or suggested to others are legalistic. One could not call the Pharisees legalists solely based on the fact that they tithed: one could, however, call them legalistic based upon what they taught to others as God-ordained fact. 

I think it is fair to state that your writings on Your Sacred Calling are mostly read by those who could find themselves being accused of legalism [whether true or false]. You rightly devote a lengthy section to how to respond to incorrect accusations of legalism, based on their appearances. You do not, however, speak much to how to avoid actual legalism. 
The readers of Steadfast Daughters, however, also include many who are leveling charges of legalism against others. You speak of the abuses of power that you have seen, but fail to mention the key points that these readers are likely to be objecting to. Throughout the history of Steadfast Daughters, and indeed everything I have seen written from a patriarchal perspective in recent months, there has been a distinct unwillingness to come to terms with the tangible protests of 'quivering daughters'. I think this is because you know that many WILL disagree with your presuppositional views, and you are trying to smooth things over. I can understand this, but it is doing a really bad job of 'reconciling' those who disagree with you. To be fair, most of those who disagree with Steadfast Daughters already know they disagree with your views, and many are familiar with years of 'reconciliation' as suggested by those in the patriocentric movement who [supposedly] were in fact their abusers. It is all too familiar for most 'quivering daughters' to buy into. Many have already received [they believe] healing and freedom, and NOT at your hands. They are not going to be happy when you produce 'a biblical response' to something [namely Hillary McFarland's work] that they already believe to be helpful, Christ-honoring and in fact BIBLICAL. 

My apologies if I have worded any of this confusingly. I am rather prone to do that. And yes, feel free to pick apart my arguments in any way, I have certainly done so to yours. 


Anonymous said...

Thought inspiring post.

Is a legalist a Christian?

I think the accusation of legalist [by anyone, but me] is a charge of not being a Christian. When I think a person is not a Christian, the purpose of any conversation with them cannot be about: "How do we become better Christians? How can we better let our light so shine before men?"

If you continue to think of them as saved and trying to achieve heaven by their works, you are just beating your head against the wall, because these ideas are mutually exclusive.

If you decide they are saved. Then the issue is not legalism, but the concern that those they are teaching may come to believe a form of legalism.

If you decide they are legalists. They are not Christians, and they need Christ. They seem familiar with the gospel, but they despise it choosing to continue a senseless attempt to gain heaven by another means.

Christ sent his disciples into all the world to preach the gospel, not to perform the Spanish Inquisition or to take back the Holy Land.


Bethany said...

Hmm, just last night someone was telling me I kinda need to decide what exactly I do think of the patriocentrists I come into contact with: whether they are honestly trying to love God, or are power-hungry deceivers, or somewhere in between. What I think will have to affect how I communicate with them, I think.

I really don't know what they are.

Anonymous said...

I am uncomfortable with the idea there is a "they".

It is not like "they" are a denomination or church.

Patriocentric teachings are a loose set of doctrines that can be incorporated into or over any denomination or church's pre-existing doctrines with some minor tweaking.

This means each individual who espouses these doctrines comes at it with their own unique set of preconceived notions, not only as to patriocentric teachings, but also as to Christianity and the world in general.

This is their perspective. And it will appear completely different, than yours.

Ask questions, if people don't answer, that's fine. If they tell you to get lost, that's fine, too. But don't let anyone make your mind up for you.

Take responsibility for what you believe, you'll be free.

Cultists don't take responsibility for their beliefs, but allow some other person or group to take over the responsibility of establishing and defending their beliefs. And thereby, relinquish their freedom to that person or group.

Different perspectives yield different insights.

Responsibility and liberty are synonyms.