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Legalism is a word that is usually applied to adherents of Christianity. It refers to a code of religious laws or rules that are followed but with a negative effect—the Christian begins to judge others’ righteousness based upon external adherence to those laws. In severe instances, the salvation of the “offenders” may be doubted. When the topic comes up, I’ve been told more than once by pastors that a person who smokes cigarettes cannot be a Christian. Christians debate such topics as, “Which movies should Christians watch?” “What exclamations are permitted when one is angry?” “May a Christian drink wine? Beer?” Some of the laws that Christians adhere to are indeed biblical. Some have no biblical basis, or a spurious one.

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