Lou Priolo: Leading People Away from Legalism

I just received The Journal of Modern Ministry, volume 8, issue 1, Winter 2011, at the office this week. Inside an article caught my eye, particularly because of our Galatians study in our morning worship hour at Calvary Baptist Church. Lou Priolo, the Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling in Montgomery, Alabama, wrote an article entitled, Leading People Away  from Legalism. In the article he suggests that we answer the following questions of ourselves and then rate the answers using the provided scale. (a Legalism Test, so to speak):

1. When people hold differing opinions than I do about things that are not clearly delineated in Scripture, I judge them to be wrong, immature, or unspiritual.

2. When I see other parents allowing their children to do things that I would not allow my children to do, even though no sin is involved, I judge them to be poor parents.

3. I make major issues over minor doctrinal  differences that I have with other Christians.

4. When other Christians disagree with me on minor doctrinal issues, I have difficulty fellowshipping with them.

5. I don’t think there is any such thing as a minor doctrinal issue.

6. When evaluating others, I err more on the side of judgment than I do on the side of mercy.

7. I focus more on correcting my external actions than on my internal attitudes.

8. My conscience is programmed more by the values, beliefs, scruples, or approbation of my closest friends than it is by the Bible.

Rating Scale Points:

  • Never (Hardly Ever) – 4pts
  • Seldom – 3pts
  • Sometimes – 2pts
  • Frequently – 1pt
  • Always (Almost Always) – 0pts

There is a possible 32 point maximum. The lower the score, the greater is one’s likelihood of legalistic thinking. So, how did you do?

Here are some other examples of legalism:

  • Women should never wear pants
  • All translations of the Bible other than the King James Version are bogus
  • Singleness is a holier state than marriage
  • You shouldn’t eat rabbit
  • It is wrong to practice any form of birth control
  • Men should not have beards or mustaches
  • Allowing your toddler to play with the remote control is wrong
  • You should not listen to anything but worshipful Christian or classical music
  • You must feed your infant strictly according to a certain schedule (regardless of the circumstances)
  • The best way to pray is by using a particular formula
  • Homeschooling is the only biblical way to educate children

Chance to interact: Can you think of other examples of legalism? What Scripture have you found that assists others in battling legalism?


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