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Legalism

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

Definitions

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.  A lesser form of legalism is the doctrine that God expects or requires our obedience to this law even when it conflicts with our own 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.

Christendom has wrestled with this issue since its inception. Judaism was certainly legalistic, and of course the early Christians of Palestine were converted out of this religion, but kept most of the foundation of the old religion. As 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 a couple of rules crept in.

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

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

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