Legalism has long been one of the greatest issues at the Honor Academy. One indicator of legalism is adding to the Bible. Do we believe that the Bible is sufficient instruction for us or do we add rules to follow, that Jesus never gave us, in an attempt to be even “holier” or more righteous? One of the alumni questions addressed this issue:
Alumni Question @ 35:55 – Why does the Honor Academy seem to believe that a more strict morality is needed than is Biblically mandated? (question continues…)
Dave Hasz Answer: 37:50 – I don’t think that the Honor Academy believes that there is a more strict morality needed than is Biblically mandated.
Now, let’s roll back the conversation and listen to Dave’s doublespeak on this issue:
@13:20 – When I first came to TM, and for the first year or two, we had a zero tolerance policy. If you violated a moral standard of the Honor Academy, i.e. if you kissed your girlfriend, you held hands, if you looked at pornography, if you sipped some alcohol, if you smoked a cigarette you were immediately dismissed from the Honor Academy, no questions asked…..Any young people that are having a challenge in their life that has resulted in a violation of the moral standards, we don’t want to shame them humiliate them, we want to help them.
Although the behaviors in question are not called sins in the Bible, Dave equates the rules of the HA to “moral standards.” In the Honor Council training video, a staff member says that when an intern violates the rules and appears before the Honor Council it is because they have “sinned against God.”
Now, I have absolutely no problems with establishing particular rules for a program or the safety of a campus. However, these rules should NEVER be equated with moral standards. Only God has the right to decide what a sin is. We can’t just make a rule up and tell someone if they break it that they are sinning. That’s called legalism, people. An excerpt from this post says it better than I do:
Let me say this plainly: It is a sin to impose on others any “spiritual” standard that has no biblical basis. When God gave the law to Israel, He told them, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). And, “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).
The same principle is repeated in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul was rebuking the Corinthians for their sectarianism, saying “I am of Paul”; “I am of Apollos,” and so on. His rebuke to them includes these words in 1 Corinthians 4:6: “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written.”
That is a good guideline for how we should exercise our Christian liberty: Don’t go beyond what is written in Scripture. Don’t make rules to impose on others; don’t devise rituals and forms of worship that are not authorized; and don’t speak on such matters where God has been silent. That’s the whole principle of Sola Scriptura applied to Christian living. If we really believe Scripture is a sufficient rule for the Christian life, then we don’t have to add anything to it.
(FYI – I’m not generally a big fan of the blog I just linked to, so don’t take it as an endorsement. But on this topic, I couldn’t agree more.)