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- Henry David Thoreau
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...according to the prevailing paradigm [legalism], coming down hard
on people isn't abuse.  It's how we create healthy families, schools, businesses, governments, and churches, because it rids us of the
sinful, ignorant or otherwise unruly souls that muck up the social
machinery.  If things don't work, the solution is to take away more
rights, stifle more creativity, intimidate more people, build more
prisons, ...More fear keeps people in line. - The Paradigm Conspiracy

Machines are made to function by rules and law; humans were meant
to live by inspiration from purpose and values.
 - Michael Armstrong

Updated: 07/13/2019


LAW n: Outside of natural law—including physical and spiritual law, which is the basis for the consistency of the entire universe—a working definition of law is custom, conventions, policy, rules, or demands backed up by threats, fear, force or violence.

LEGALISM n: the doctrine that God has imposed upon mankind by fiat a so-called moral law, different from natural, scientific law, which implies an element of arbitrariness on his part.  The lesser form of legalism is the doctrine that God expects or requires our obedience to this law even when it conflicts with our own ethical will. A more extreme form of legalism is the idea that through obedience and compliance with this law is the way to please God, grow spiritually, and is the pathway to salvation.

The creator designed the physical realm to operate on
laws, but the spiritual realm is based on his character,
operating on eternal principles. - Michael Armstrong   

Christendom has wrestled with this issue since its inception. Judaism was certainly legalistic, and of course the early Christians of Palestine were semi-converted out of this religion, but kept most of the foundation of the old religion. As the "Apostle" Paul became one of the most influential leaders, his major dogma was one of grace overriding the requirements of the law and he even scoffed at some of the Old Testament law. However, even he couldn't get rid of law entirely, and let a couple of rules creep in.

In the realm of human personhood law can only
generate predatory domination, submission and
resulting alienation. - Zwemer, Jack, "The Destiny
of Man", Destiny, January 1995

The spiritually mature person lives by principles, not rule or law. Below are several quotes from people that didn't want legalism to invade their personal life:

The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs. - A. E. Housman

No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth. - Jean Giraudoux

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. - Aleister Crowley

Who ever heard of a clockwork orange?..."The attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and capable of sweetness, to ooze juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, to attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen." - Anthony Burgess

Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion. - Blake

Men would be great criminals did they need as many laws as they make. - Darling

Law is born from despair of human nature. - Ortega y Gasset

Marriage is the only legal contract which abrogates as between the parties all the laws that safeguard the particular relation to which it refers. - G. B. Shaw

Nature hath no goal though she hath law. - Donne

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich
as well as the poor to sleep under bridges. - France

Lawgivers or revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either utopian dreamers or charlatans. - Goethe

Bad laws are the worst form of tyranny. - E. Burke

The more corrupt the state, the more laws. - Tacitus

I know well what I am fleeing from, not what I am in search of. - Montaigne

Written laws are like spider's webs, and will like them only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them. -  Anarcharsis

I will make a new covenant,...not like the covenant which I made with their fathers....But this is the covenant which I will make....I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts. - Jeremiah 31:31-33

I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts. - Hebrews 8:10

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules. - G. B. Shaw

The bottom line:

Remember, the J-person defined sin as holding a false or wrong concept of God. Thus the idea that God would impose fiat law upon us is foundational sin!

For an eloquent poem on legalism see: Kahlil Gibran on Law

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