What do you think of when you hear the word legalism? Do you envision a long list of rules, regulations and duties to be followed in order to be considered faithful? Do you picture well-meaning people who have simply lost their way on their quest to be found obedient? In Robots or Rebels, Robert Pruitt tackles this difficult topic.
The meaning of the title unfolded much differently than I expected. Robots, as Pruitt calls them, are what I expected them to be: people who blindly follow the rules of legalism. I had a different picture in mind for what the “rebels” would be. I envisioned this group to be filled with “holy wrath” or a desire for justice, similar to what Jesus felt when He turned over the tables in the temple because the Lord’s house was transformed from a house of worship into a place where people were cheated. I pictured that the “rebels” would be people who still had a heart for God, but were tired of empty religion and just wanted to follow the Lord. I envisioned that Pruitt would lay out a definition for legalism, how to escape it, and potentially real-life stories of those who had been damaged by it.
Pruitt’s “rebels” weren’t what I envisioned. The “rebel” is one who has rejected legalism and turned into the Prodigal Son, running from Christ, making terrible life choices. I was very disappointed to see such a dichotomy portrayed for those who encounter legalism: you’re either a robot (blindly following rules that aren’t prescribed by the Bible, rules that don’t need to be followed) or you’re a rebel (turning away from Christ, rejecting legalism).
There’s a third, healthier option: accepting Christ but rejecting man-made rules. I’m so disappointed Pruitt didn’t present this option. If you’re wondering if you’re in a legalistic church, or if you’re trying to find out how to find a healthy church after leaving a legalistic church, this book will probably not give you the answers you need.
FTC disclosure: I received a free copy of Robots or Rebels from Ambassador International, the publisher. The thoughts contained in this review are my own.