Responding to assumptions that Christianity = legalism

I recently wrote a review for the Gospel Coalition website of Randy Newman’s forthcoming book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, Crossway, April 2011. Here’s another extract that caught my eye:

How did I respond after he asked me if I thought people who danced, drank, or smoked would go to hell?
I said this:
“Well, I think we all like rules because they make it easy to know who’s in and who’s out. We like rules because they can make us feel superior to those people who don’t keep them. In fact, I think I make all sorts of rules that I generally keep because they make me feel good about me and bad about others.” I could see I had grabbed his attention.
“But the stuff I need forgiveness for is a whole lot worse than just smoking or dancing or drinking. I need to be forgiven for anger, bitterness, hatred, self-righteousness …” I stopped. His face looked shocked.
“No. Really.” I continued. “If I’m going to have any kind of connection with God, I need forgiveness for some really ugly attitudes and actions. That’s why I really like Christianity. It offers that kind of forgiveness.” (74)

Bringing the Gospel Home can be pre-ordered here from and


6 thoughts on “Responding to assumptions that Christianity = legalism

  1. The more I speak with those outside the church in Australia, the more I see this is a problem. To many, the “gospel” they hear (perceive) we preach is “Christianity = legalism”. There is a huge amount of error to undo when speaking of the Jesus, the Gospel, and grace, to prevent it from being distorted.

    Thanks for posting this excerpt.

  2. How true that is.

    On another point Tim: is it possible to stick a search function on your blog? Even on my lowly free ‘blogspot’ I can search for articles I’ve previously posted.


  3. Pingback: Things Findo Found – 9.4.11 | Things Findo Thinks

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