Friday, January 30, 2009

Holiness, Legalism and the Sufficiency of Scripture

On a recent road trip to the North East of Tasmania, Dave and I listened to Jeff Pollard’s talk “Holiness, Legalism, and the Sufficiency of Scripture”. It was the first time Dave had heard the talk, but it was my fourth or fifth. I have a desire to listen to this CD over and over again, perhaps because its message is one I need to hear over and over again! The talk is also packed with concepts. The preacher acknowledges that each topic listed in the title could do with multiple sermons, and packing it into about an hour makes it a stretch.

The section on holiness is inspiring as Pollard details God’s holiness and our call to be like Him. We are to be a set apart, holy people. God’s standard is complete holiness in thought, word, and action. The section on legalism is insightful and challenging. Some humour is provided as Pollard details the pitfalls of this topic – the main ones being that people constantly label others legalists yet no one seems sure what it means and no one ever admits to it! Pollard defines legalism as a) having a standard – God’s word or a man made standard b) that you seek to attain through self-effort c) for the purposes of self-exaltation.

The teaching about legalism is remarkable for two things. 1) Its accuracy in describing the true evidences of legalism, and the clarity of conviction this provides. We are all legalists. 2) Its avoidance of the common tendency to describe a legalist as, in Pollard’s words, anyone who says there is a problem with something I think is fine! You are not a legalist solely because you hold particular convictions about dress or Sabbath keeping or giving . . . or a multitude of other topics. You are a legalist if you think that those things make you a better Christian and more pleasing to God.

Pollard’s teaching on the Sufficiency of Scripture is perhaps the most controversial section of his CD. He argues that we can seek the mind and will of God through the Scriptures and prayer – even on matters that are not spoken of in specifics. Amongst many Evangelicals today, this position is not held in high regard. Many argue that the Bible does not speak to x, or y, or z . . . or that it does not speak in a relevant or understandable way. It is common to hear it said that unless the Bible addresses something specifically, that matter is one of opinion. The position put forward on this CD is that we ought to rely upon God’s revelation in all matters, not on our own reason or opinions. However, if someone else also seeks out God’s word and prays and comes to a different conclusion we are not to view that person as a lesser Christian.

I recommend this CD to anyone with even a slight interest in the topics covered. It is well worth what you pay for it from Behemoth.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I plan on looking for this cd.