I just posted this link in another thread Legalism (theology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I mentioned the term to my JW friend once. He didn't seem to understand so I explained.
Anyhow, I think people will especially enjoy the list from further down the page :)
Throughout the history of Christianity, certain beliefs and practices have tended to draw charges of legalism. These include:
- Asceticism, such as fasting and other forms of self-denial.
- The keeping of Christian Sabbath, especially regarding prohibitions of various otherwise innocent activities on the day of worship.
- Various extra-biblical ordinances and customs that become associated not just with wisdom but with holiness, in the contemporary situation, such as prohibitions againsttheater, movies, dancing, playing cards or mixed bathing.
- Total abstinence from alcohol (See also Christianity and alcohol.)
- Ritualism, a superficial or superstitious use of customary prayers and liturgy.
- Similarly, certain exclusive ritual practices, such as rigorous insistence on the tetragrammaton as the only name by which God is honored, dietary laws, Saturday Sabbath, orPassover (Christian holiday), especially when practicing these rituals is held necessary for salvation.
- Sacraments, especially when the underlying theology allegedly views them as communicating God's grace automatically (compare ex opere operato).
- Various rigorous and restrictive beliefs, such as that, only the King James Version of the Bible constitutes God's word.
- The belief that contemporary Christian music is evil.
- The belief that women should never wear pants or shorts.
Several underlying dynamics appear in these controversies. The permitted scope of veneration of material objects versus claims that such veneration is idolatry, affects the perceived sanctity of ritual spaces and objects, and therefore of the rituals and customs themselves. Teachings about the authority of the church, the sources of legitimacy of that authority, and the role of clergy versus the priesthood of all believers, also affect these debates. Related to these disagreements are debates concerning the authority of the Bible, and whether it is to be interpreted literally or more freely.
All the best,