The phrases LEGALISM and LEGALIST get bandied tossed around a lot in christian and pseudo-christian circles. Maybe it is time we actually defined the word in a way that doesn’t make it just another ad hominem tactic. Merriam-Webster defines LEGALISM as strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. Merriam-Webster also defines LEGALIST as an advocate or adherent of moral legalism Personally I have come to define a LEGALIST as a person for whom at least one but usually multiple issues have only two possible sides. This means that if you disagree with their view it can only be for one possible reason or structure of belief. In their mind your disagreement places you squarely in that one specified structure so they know exactly what you really believe and mean before you ever say a word or even in spite of your actual words. This is comforting to them, because it means they don’t have to think about how to respond. It also means that, because they already know what you actually mean, they don’t have to listen to you. A LEGALIST will only pay attention to small parts of what you have to say and those small parts will almost inevitably be the narrow pats they can pull out to justify the lines they have drawn. People most typically (not always) start calling other people or opinions legalistic when they don’t want to or cannot deal with the subject that the person is putting forward. This can happen with minor issues like carpet color and music choice as well as serious issues like salvation and baptism. In my experience, continuing to try to talk with such people is fruitless unless the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so. When I have known that it was the Holy Spirit's leading I usually find out later on that someone I was unaware of was listening/watching and that He used me to show them something. What are your thoughts?