28 March 2008

What is an "antinomian"?

by Dan Phillips

This might be briefer, less commented-on, and less controversial than its predecessor, on legalism. The word "antinomian" isn't thrown around quite as freely. Maybe because (unlike legalism) it's not much of a dodge to hide behind. You can't get much mileage, when a brother is exhorting you to take the Word to heart on some point, by calling him an "antinomian."

It is, however, misused as a dismissive way of refusing to deal seriously with other Biblically-based positions. If you can successfully label a person (or school) "antinomian"... well, he's bad, and that's that. So you don't need to think too hard about it.

It also is of course properly used of schools that are antinomian; and they are bad. Once again, then, what matters is using the word correctly — which, again, depends on defining it correctly.

So here are some proposed definitions. Note: they all have to do with Christian living, not how to become a Christian. None has to do with how to get saved, but with how to live as a Christian.

By popular usage (and with some overlap), an antinomian is...
  1. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey any part of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses
  2. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the moral division of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses
  3. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the commands of Christ and the apostles
  4. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey any law
  5. Anyone who sets the leading of the Holy Spirit in opposition to obedience to any rule or law, whatever the source or location
  6. Anyone who sets grace in opposition to obedience to any written word of God
As before, in the meta, tell us:
  • Which of these have you heard most frequently?
  • Which do you think is (or are) accurate and legitimate uses — and on what basis?
  • Which do you think are inaccurate and illegitimate — and on what basis?
Again, have at it.

Dan Phillips's signature

147 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

I am surely a partial antinomian especially when it comes to the law of Moses. But grace isn't at odds with obedience, in fact, it propels obedience in way that vastly surpasses legalism.

The older brother stays with the father and obeys him in a structured and antiseptic way while the younger brother receives his father's grace and we can surmise his obedience is filled with energy, gratefulness, and spiritual effervescence that always accompanies a believer who live consciously with the implications of the grace that was afforded his unworthy being.

Oh no, this younger brother is not serving the father's post its upon the refrigerator outlining the day's work schedule, no, no, no, this younger brother serves the Father and the father's directions are just another expression of the father's grace for which the younger son is grateful.

Grace received has revolutionized the entire relationship because now the younger son has come to realize the father loved him even when he was in disobedience and rebellion. So the love the younger brother now receives his father's love not as a reward for labor but straight from his unconditional heart. Could he take advantage of it? ure, but in reality this knowledge and the love of his father compels him to serve.

You see, grace unfolds the deeper caverns of God's love and propels, compels, drives us to serve our Heavenly Father and not the useful words of Moses which had run their course. We obey the "post-its" of the New Testament not because we have to or must do them because they make us sons, no, we obey our Glorious Father because we have seen Him with spiritual eyes, we have handled Him with our hearts, and we have received of His eternal grace and we have been changed forever. These New Testament Scriptures are gifts of grace that allow us to serve and worship our Great God more faithfully.

And in the end, we obey these words because we serve Him, we don't serve those words. His words are perfect, but our Father desires more than eye-service, He desires exuberant and expansive worship and service that reveals more than a tacit obligation, He desires service from a consecrated heart of worship.

So chalk me up as a "partial antinomian". But I remain a commited and full diluvial antinomian.

John said...

Having been a real live antinomian, and even having heard the preaching for years, I can answer this, (but not proudly).

An inaccurate useage of the term would be "anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey any part of the Law of Moses." I've never heard it used that way. Are we to sacrifice on the Sabbath?

I do, on the other hand, believe that we are still to observe the moral law. Those that reject the ten commandments as "the law" may be properly labeled "antinomian", but possibly not. Someone who says that Christians are not bound to a Sabbath, yet attends church on Sunday, would not be an antinomian.Yet someone who says that we are not bound, and therefore never goes would be.

Number three is (or should be) obviously legitimate. In my former life, I was told that we "had no responsibility." Since we were not "able" to do any good, we only made ourselves hypocrites by trying. So when Paul (the only really inspired NT writer according to some antinomians) gives a command or places responsibility upon the believer, we must interpret it in a spiritual way. When this can't be done, we overlook it--as we should all of James' epistle, which was either not inspired, or must be understood spiritually (whatever that means). I was told one time that James was in the Bible to keep us from worshipping the Word rather than God.

The Holy Spirit will not lead us in a way that opposes the moral law. God will not "lead" us to leave our wife, or abort our baby. The Holy Spirit may however lead us to not obey laws of men (as he led Christ to heal on the Sabbath.)Anyone who believes that we are to be led by the Spirit rather than the Word is opening himself up to be led by Satan.

The next point is probably the most accurate description of an antinomian. Paul asks, "what then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" His answer is "God forbid." The antinomian's answer is, "I'm just a poor sinner. I cannot do otherwise. If I'm tempted to kick my brother, it must have been foreordained before the foundation of the world. I'd better kick him or I'll be going against God's will."

I won't be able to come back to see how I did until later. Visit my blog. I'll link to this very good (as usual) post.

God bless,

Daryl said...

I think I've probably heard #6 misued most often.

I say that because while there is a way in which grace runs against the grain of requiring strict obedience (only in that grace is required for us to become acceptable to God, strict obedience can't do it), in reality grace runs against disobedience. That is grace really does counter disobedience but it doesn't excuse it.

I've also heard it used against those who don't believe they must obey the whole law of Moses, particularly when arguing a specific point of that law against someone who does hold to that specific point.

I'd have to say that #3, that Christians are not obliged to obey any law would qualify as antinomian in my book.

5 & 6 are close competitors however, simply because when someone sets either grace or the "leading of the Holy Spirit" against obedience, it's pretty much always to allow themselves the freedom to do something the written word forbids, otherwise, why would they bother to set those things against it?

I think #6 is the tricky one because depending on the way someone presents that idea, it can be right or wrong, but we people generally use things wrong in order to gain permission where permission is not about to be granted...

Carrie said...

Uh, most EvanJellyBeans I know have never heard of the word "antinomian". I have only heard this charge come from Roman Catholics.

DJP said...

Carrie, I'm sure you're right about 'beans. But I'm focusing on those who do use it.

To all: like last time, I'll probably weigh in after the bulk of conversation. But a little flutter in the meta so far makes me want to stress one point in particular.

THE ISSUE IS NOT HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN. It is not the Gospel, salvation, any such. I'll resist the conversation going that way.

This is all and only about, "OK, now that you have been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, God is calling you to _____."

Which fill-in-the-blank RECEIVES, and which DESERVES, the opprobrium of "antinomian"?

Hope that clarifies and focuses, rather than muddling.

The Gospel is the wheel, and we won't be reinventing it in this meta. The issue is: how to roll?

Matt said...

Good follow up to the legalism post, Dan.

You're right to say that the word antinomian isn't used all that much. I can only think of one occasion where it came up in a conversation I had with someone. This was at the time a few months ago when I was becoming a future-ex Arminian. After discussing at length the problems of Arminianism with my friend, I mentioned as a side note that too many of my fellow Mennonite (read: Arminian) brethren stray into legalism (the conservative ones, that is) or into liberalism. I mentioned that this was most likely because Arminians have a propensity to focus on works, even while paying lip service to grace.

The one thing that liberals and legalists have in common, I mentioned to by friend, is an overemphasis on ethics/works, and that that is a problem most common among Arminians.

He then countered that if I became a Calvinist (which I did - PTL!) that I would then have problems with antinomianism. Of course, his understanding of the Reformed view of sanctification was wanting.

But, even though the term isn't often used, your #5 seems to be what I see most frequently among squishy leftish "Christians". Liberals love the Holy Spirit/Jesus Christ vs. Scripture false dichotomy. Ironically, so do true legalists.

I believe that there's actually somewhat of an overlap here in the sense that liberals and extreme conservatives actually both struggle with either legalism or antinomianism.

Sola Gratia!
Matt

DJP said...

Yeah, Matt; that's really interesting.

It makes sense that an Arminian would emphasize works, since the position necessarily involves man supplying the element God failed to supply in conversion/salvation. So if salvation requires man's contribution, and thus can be lost, he'd better know the rules for keeping it.

Yet as a rule I think that actual Calvinists (as opposed to Arminians who believe in "eternal security") have more tended to overemphasis on rule-keeping, rather than sloppy slushy shapeless notions of grace.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Are critics of the Emergent Church "AntiNoomian"?

Sorry.

I do believe the charge of Antinomianism has at times been raised as a criticism of Calvinism, i.e., a consequence of the system may be to encourage resting in a "carnal security."

And isn't that partly what the Lordship Salvation issue is about? Does not Dr. MacArhtur properly raise this charge against the non-Lordship side? I can't recall if he uses the word, but it seems he could have.

DJP said...

"AntiNoomian" — I like it.

I think only Arminoids who've never read an actual Calvinist might think that. They get there on their misunderstanding of a caricature: "Golly, I think if I believed ___, then I'd ___." They don't actually listen to those who affirm the Biblical emphasis on God's monergistic authoring of our salvation.

IOW, they'd never actually read Calvin, Edwards, Owen, etc., and say, "Those darned antinomians!!"

dac said...

I only have heard this term thrown around in the blogosphere, never in person

By your numbering system, 1 is definitely not, 6 definitely is, and somewhere in number 2 is the dividing point.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Dan, if you look at the debates of the 1700s, antinomianism was really quite a controvery. You will find some of the most careful theologians arguing the point, e.g., John Fletcher. Fletcher was actually a most fair minded Arminian, pointing out the piety of his Calvinist opponents and counselling his bretheren to cool it.

But, again, there does seem to be a basis for the charge,as seen in the non-Lordship Calvinists. Isn't that, effectively, one of their positions?

Wouldn't you agree that this is part of MacArthur's critique of their side?

It was put this way by M. James Sawyer: "The Free Grace teaching emphasizes, legitimately, that assurance of salvation is clearly taught in the Scriptures. But in so doing these teachers have reduced faith to something less than the full orbed biblical teaching, and bifurcated justification and sanctification so as to lay the theological basis of antinomianism."

That, it seems to me, is a legitimate concern.

Randy said...

I hear #6 under the guise of “once saved always saved” mentality. However, I like what John MacArthur says, “you cannot have security of the spirit without perseverance.”

Michelle said...

I'd say # 4 is the most legitimate use of the word, but I'd add "in scripture" to the end, because I don't think anyone seriously believes that Christians don't have to obey any law (like stopping at a red light).

As believers we are not obliged to obey any law in the Word to retain the love of our Father toward us. We may disobey, but only for a time and then we will, like the prodigal son, return. We obey because we love Him. And we love Him because He first loved us. Those who declare that they are above obedience make their professed sonship very questionable.

Terry Rayburn said...

1. Our answer needs to come from Scripture, not someone's personal definition, even if from a Systematic Theology volume.

2. No true believer is a "true" Antinomian. (I say "true Antinomian, because a true believer may foolishly TEACH Antinomianism because they are ignorant and easily swayed and unequipped to be a teacher. Many so-called free-gracers fall into this category, IMHO.)

3. John makes this clear in 1 John 3:4, "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [Gk. "anomia" -antinomianism]."

"Practices" (present tense Gk.) is the key, referring to the ongoingly unrepentent sinner.

John is separating the wheat from the tares here.

4. The New Creation in Christ loves the commands of God, and hates sin, in their very nature.

They may sin, through temporary deception by the world, the flesh, and the devil. But they won't "practice" ongoing unrepentent sin.

5. The real issue is regeneration. We can say that those who are born again are "obliged" to obey some command of God or other, but the truth is, if they are truly born again, this "obligation" may be met or unmet at any given time, yet they are 100% forgiven through the Grace of God. 100% forgiven.

6. Should we sin, then, so that this Grace might abound?

"Stupid question," Paul says paraphrastically.

"You are a new creation now, with the Holy Spirit in you. Live like it. Walk by the Spirit.

"Of course if you don't, you're still forgiven, but you don't want to live that way in your heart of hearts, do you? (If the answer is 'Yes', you are not regenerate as you might have thought, and are a true Antinomian)."

7. Finally, I agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who famously said that if you are not occasionally accused of being an Antinomian, you should question whether you are preaching the true Gospel of Grace.

Rom. 8:28 is true, even regarding our sins, or it's not true at all. So the real question is, "Do you love God?" If you do, your life will be one of seeking to know His heart, and general obedience to it.

Blessings,
Terry

Revivalfire said...

I've recently been reading stuff by MaCarthur, James Boice etc and in doing so my views have shifted towards believeing that 'works' should be the evidence of salvation. I've also been reading stuff by R.T Kendall who says that one can be saved even if his life denies it... two questions...

Do the 'Lordship Salvation' peeps border on legalism?

Does Kendall border on Antinominism?

Terry Rayburn said...

revivalfire,

1. When Lordship Salvation says that regeneration precedes faith, and that the faith which comes from regeneration includes believing in Jesus as Lord, they are NOT Legalistic. If you don't believe in Jesus as Lord, you don't believe in Jesus. But it's by grace alone, through faith alone, preceded by regeneration.

2. However, when Lordship Salvation says things like "Salvation comes by giving all that you are for all that He is",

or uses the Parable of the Pearl to say that one "buys" the Kingdom by giving up something,

or confuses salvation with discipleship by saying one must "deny themselves and take up their cross" to be worthy to be saved,

then "Yes", they are not just bordering on Legalism. They are doing what Roman Catholics do, i.e., contributing meritorious works to the salvation process, and denying it's meritorious.

3. Kendall, as in my post example above, isn't a true Antinomian himself, but if your representation of him is correct, he is teaching that a true Antinomian might be regenerate, and that is incorrect per 1 John 3:4.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ Dan: thanks again for a timely post - I recently got to use the word over at my own. I was recently given a nifty Reformation Study Bible (ESV) that includes a great article on antinomianism; wish I had if with me right now - not that I'd want to make a comment that long and hijack this blog.

Grace - real grace - teaches that the law, the commands, and the moral strictures given to us cannot save us. Antinomians teach that those things also have no more standing to speak to our conduct as well, and that is going too far. They teach that we no longer have an obligation for obedience. I think that describes what I mean when I use the word.

Schaeffer describes it this way in Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History: "the notion that because we are saved by grace on the basis of the finished work of Christ, it does not matter how we live... the Word of God makes plain that we equally must oppose all forms of antinomianism."

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

By the way, forgive me for seeming just a little harsh, but I'm going to tweak the list based on the conduct I see prevalent. This might just open a can of worms for lunch:

5. Anyone who sets their feelings and urges, mistaken for the leading of the Holy Spirit, in opposition to obedience to any rule or law, whatever the source or location

6. Anyone who sets libertinism, mistaken for true grace, in opposition to obedience to any written word of God

Any takers?

Daryl said...

Keith,

In my initial post I mentioned the "leading of the Spirit" idea but now I'm not so sure.

That person believes that they are obeying something, they've just got a bad view of Scripture.

The other guy...well I agree with Terry, if they are a believer, even if they say they're free (in the antinomian sense), they won't really live that way. Otherwise, how can the be a believer.

DJP said...

Sigh. Nineteen comments, and nobody mentioned the graphics.

Probably should go to Frank's fourteenth blog and learn how to put a Pyro logo on Bacchus' toga....

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ daryl:

I caught where you'd put "leading of the Holy Spirit" in quotes, and I assumed you were thinking about feelings and urges passed off as genuine leading. I read you as being in agreement.

I keep coming back to Heb. 5:14, where we get a definition of mature believers: "... those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." Seems to me that being a mature believer, knowing right from wrong, and being sensitive to the genuine leading of the Spirit should all go (and grow) hand in hand - and the mature believer will live consistently with that.

Yes?

BTW, LOVE the graphics.

DJP said...

Thanks.

You're my commenter of the day so far.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ Dan:

Fond memories of Disney's "Fantasia" - the original. And I've seen some "youth group" meetings that weren't far removed from a saturnalia; I assumed that was where you were going with the reference...

Daryl said...

Keith,

I'm saying that someone who sets up urges or leading (genuine or not) or anything else over against Scripture, and then follows those non-Scriptural things, isn't an antinomian by virtue of the fact that they're trying to obey something. The wrong thing? Yes. But still something.

The Antinomian would say "Woo Hoo!! I don't have to obey anything!"

So if that's what you were saying, I agree. :)

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ daryl:

Well stated! We're on the same page, and I like the way you put that.

And my apologies to all - my lapse of using "saturnalia" instead of "bacchanalia" just goes to show I'm not culturally sensitive or missional enough. I suppose I need to work on engaging my surrounding culture.

Heh.

Strong Tower said...

The freeness of obedience is of very different degrees; and believers' obedience is never absolutely free, till it be absolutely perfect in heaven; but the freeness of their obedience will always bear proportion to the measure of their faith, which is never perfect in this life; thus, the more faith, the more freeness of obedience, and the less faith, the less of that freeness.

What the author of this piece has in mind answers some of the points made in the previous post, namely, the ability to follow law is proportional to the amount of faith that is given. He has also a fine discussion on the difference between the law of works versus the law of Christ. What strikes anyone who reads this or Scripture is the obvious commandments as djp points to. The fact that there are commandments means that there is law. How we define law makes all the difference.

The denial of the first and the affirmation of the second is the way of grace. The denial of the first and the denial of the second would be antinomian. The affirmation of the first and the denial of the second is legalism.

It is a fine read to supplement this discussion.

REB said...

I can't follow Bacchus and Christ at the same time? You people are tough to please!

Wyatt Roberts said...

Dan:

Hmm...based on the descriptions you've listed, I think I might actually be an "antinomian."

Paul clearly points out that Gentiles are not under the law, but that "the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." If I read that right, I am not "obliged" to observe any bit of the Law of Moses. However, if I observe what Paul calls alternately the "law of Christ" and the "law of the Spirit," I will most assuredly find myself fulfilling whatever portions of the Law of Moses are good. I love God and my neighbor, ergo, I do not commit adultery nor do I steal from them.

I think Christians err when they ask: "Which, if any, of the law are we to follow?" Neither Gentiles nor Christian Jews are under the Law of Moses, but the Law of Christ.

Sorry, if I'm addressing a point you weren't trying to make.

The Spokesman said...

6. Anyone who sets grace in opposition to obedience to any written word of God

The true scriptural interpretation of the Gospel is constantly under attack from two different fronts. On one front you have legalism which adds works to salvation, violating the testimony of Scripture, denying the finished work of Christ as sufficient for justification, nullifying the grace of God, rejecting the faith given by God, and robbing the glory that belongs to God alone.

The legalist denies grace in justification (imputed righteousness).

On the other front you have libertinism which takes away from salvation by removing the works of salvation, violating the testimony of Scripture, denying the power of the finished work of Christ as sufficient for sanctification, turning the grace of God into licentiousness, receiving a dead and useless faith, robbing God of His glory.

The libertine (antinomian) defiles grace in sanctification (implanted righteousness).

Grace and peace,
Olan

Rick Frueh said...

"If you love me you will keep my commandments"

We serve by love to a Father's commands not by fear of a judge's laws. The law of Moses doesn't save, it doesn't sanctify, it doesn't help, it is dead and gone forever. To drag it into the life of a believer is to strap a decaying corpse upon our backs and suggest we are obeying God.

The New Testament Scriptures are the gracious words of instruction to new creatures in Christ, and if we are in fact in Christ we will respond. If a key doesn't open a door it is the wrong key and if a "professing" believer doesn't respond to the words of the New Testament then they are not intended for him.

We are the children of promise, the promise of the Spirit who has placed the knowledge of God inside our spirits. We are now free to serve Christ free from that which slew us previously - the law. So long Aquarius, and we thank you!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

No surprise that this thread is not generating the same number of comments as the "Legalist" thread.

I think part of it is just the way the words are, and how easily they're pronounced, and how easily the meaning is grasped. I mean, c'mon. Legalist vs. Antinomian.

Everybody and their grandmother has a conniption fit about meeting a legalist and thinking they know what a legalist is. But "antinomian"? It's hard to even say the word, let alone to define and understand it's proper meaning.

My suggestion is to come up with a different easier word than antinomian that means the same thing as antinomian, and that has the same powerful emotive punch as legalist does.

How about "whoring hypocrite"?

:-)

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Considering I never heard the term 'antinomian' before, I really appreciate the topic.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ truth unites...

I hear you, brother. Another word for "antinomian"... shorter, easier to say... same meaning...

Hmmm....

"Emergent"? (three syllables, and we all know it)

"PoMo"? (you can't get much shorter than that)

Personally, I'm fond of "Rebel Without A Clue," but not everyone would get that connection.

BTW, thanks for the good words back at STAND!

Stefan said...

An antinomian is anyone one sees at church on Sunday morning that one doesn't like the looks of.

(Just kidding!!!)

dac said...

Somehow I knew this converstation would turn to how antinomian = eeeeeeevvvvvil emergent

I am surprised it actually took this long though.

Rick Frueh said...

I love all the titles. Monergist, preterist, partial-preterist, pelagian, partial-pelagian, and many other important sounding words.

I like to collectively use the word "goofballs" which indicates a distinct departure from my own theology. Rule of thumb is that whoever labels the other first is pronounced as correct.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

@ dac:

Sorry, brother. My bad, in the common street parlance.

But someone had to do it, so it might as well be me; it's been on my mind for a while, ever since I branded them as the Nicolaitans of our age.

Give credit to everyone else, because they've avoided saying it. I'm the day's only rabble-rouser. Nonetheless, as long as I've brought it up, can you think of any group which, as a group, has as serious an antinomian bent and still lays claim to the banner "Christian"? I'll happily consider any other candidate of equal stature...

Mike Riccardi said...

There's a very simple reason for why this thread isn't as commented-upon as the legalist thread. 'Legalist' is a very abused word by a whole bunch of people across the spectrum in Christendom. It's more popular.

The only people who use the word "antinomian" are...



... wait for it...



...LEGALISTS!

Strong Tower said...

Rick-

Come on confess, you lose when you thumb wrestle with yourself, don't ya

Stefan said...

Dan: I loved the graphic the moment I saw it, and it fits as a caricature of whatever mental image comes into my mind at the sight of the word "antinomian." Sorry I didn't comment about it earlier.

Like Dac, I've really only encountered the word in the blogosphere—perhaps once or twice on books or offline articles.

Off topic, but an even less common word is the semantically unrelated antinomy (the apparent state of tension between divine sovereignty and human free will), which Packer uses to good effect in his Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

Your opening comment sounds good, probably has a lot of folk thinking "yep, that is me too" but really now, what are they teaching you guys in seminary? I am beginning to see why you don't like voluminous scripture.

Then we have strong tower wanting to tell us what everyone else writes about the subject, even when he contradicts himself.

Now why is it again we practice righteousness rather than lawlessness? Could it be because we are born again, raised with him to a life of righteousness?

Romans 6
Belivers are Dead to Sin, Alive to God
1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just asChrist was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7Forone who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Slaves to Righteousness
15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the words of Elijah,

1 Kings 18:21 (English Standard Version)

21And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word.

ezekiel said...

By the way, an antinomian to me would be one that considered himself crucified with Christ but rather than being raised with Him to a life of righteousness, finds himself still in the grave. That is just dead folks. No longer alive.

Stefan said...

Matt:

You made an excellent point upthread: that attributing human effort to justification and assurance (getting saved and staying saved) can lead very quickly to works-based righteousness, among both conservatives (legalism) and liberals (the social gospel and its derivative offshoots).

Rick Frueh said...

Ezekiel - you have posted much Scripture but I only recieve the original Greek and Hebrew and not the contextual translations of men. To be honest with you I have not been quite able to connect with you as yet. Probably the problem is with me. Are you a sinless perfectionist?

Strong Tower said...

"Then we have strong tower wanting to tell us what everyone else writes about the subject, even when he contradicts himself."

Okiedey, where?

I think I saw your name listed in Fisher's piece.

Fortunately Nomista eventually comes to understand that being a legalist was an error.

Rick Frueh said...

Hey strong tower - I appreciate humor. Thanks. It sometimes relieves the tension created by the sound of busy theologians punching keyboards, right? Peace.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

No, not a sinless perfectionist by any means. But I am a slave of righteousness....

Hebrew, Greek, English, Spanish.

You are not telling us that without seminary training and mastery of the Hebrew or Greek that we cant be crucified with Christ are you?

Rick Frueh said...

"You are not telling us that without seminary training and mastery of the Hebrew or Greek that we cant be crucified with Christ are you?"

No, but I am recommending a little less cappuccino and enjoy a little grace once in a while. You come across as stressed sometimes.

Michelle said...

Another word for antinomian, ummm ...

Maybe "against law" sounds better in French: contre la loi, or just contrelaloi. It has a nice ring to it to go with an unrestrained, free-to-disobey, divine-laissez-faire approach. Just happens to be totally unbecoming a doulos to Christ who is liberated, yes, but free, no.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

Luke 10:16 and 23

"Ezekiel - To be honest with you I have not been quite able to connect with you as yet. Probably the problem is with me. Are you a sinless perfectionist?"

No cappuccino for me thanks. I like black. Prolly won't suprise you that I grind my own either.

Don't look now, it was a bit o dry humor.:)

Rick Frueh said...

Michelle - C’est La Vie

Zeke - thanks brother, progress. Food fight anyone?

ezekiel said...

Rick, by the way, carefull with the word Grace. not sure it means the same to you as it does to me.

I enjoy loads of Grace every morning. Truth too.

John 1.

Rick Frueh said...

Hey Zeke - who are your favorite Christian writers both dead and alive?

Strong Tower said...

Luke 10:16 and 23

What's that mean? Who is the me, you, seers?

No Scripture please just your own spiritfilled words.

Rick Frueh said...

Luke 10:16 and 23. I see your Luke 10:16 and 23 and raise you:

century 86 quatrain 23

DJP said...

Unusual thread. (c:

Wyatt, — you do get that it's a hodgepodge of descriptions, both overlapping and mutually-exclusive? So you might be antinomian by one description, but not another?

Olan, good points.

Michelle, I'm sorry, but we've already got a lady who posts French stuff. Etrangere, with weird accents over some of the vowels.

Michelle, what I just said was true, but a joke. Good comment, thanks.

Terry, interesting, lively, thanks.

I believe that theologians have historically used the term mostly in sense #2: "Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the moral division of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses."

The sense in which I would use it would be more #3, which usually includes #5 and/or #6.

I don't ever hear it used in the sense Luther apparently coined it in disputing against Agricola -- that it means opposition to using the law to convict the sinner and lead him to Christ.

The man who left my church simply and sheerly because I taught that Christians should obey the commands of Christ and the apostles should be obeyed, by grace and in faith, was an antinomian.

Strong Tower said...

"Luther apparently coined it in disputing against Agricola -- that it means opposition to using the law to convict the sinner and lead him to Christ."

However would you convict them?

Agricola sounds like a nickname for sourmash or home brew, but would make a good nickname for Osteen's sinless Gospel, too. Fizzy, fuzzy, and self-filling...

ezekiel said...

Rick,

Favorite Christian writers.

Dead. Spurgeon.
Alive. MacArthur although I really like DJP. I think he has a way of seeing things in scripture that aren't evident unless one has spent serious time in the WORD.

Yours?

Rick Frueh said...

djp? Isn't he a freemason?? Only kidding. :)

Dead - I like Spurgeon, Wesley, Luther, Pink, Tozer, Ravenhill, and Campbell.

Alive - Some MacArthur, Wilkerson, some Piper, and various articles by various authors.

I love reading the accounts of past revivals as well.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

Your 2:12 post sounds like you are mocking or scoffing. Have I missed the sense of your post?

1 1
Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.
3
He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

ezekiel said...

Strong Tower,

If you step back and look at our past exchanges do you realize that what you find so offensive is me quoting scripture? Do you also see your tendency to quote other writers as your authorities and suggest we should believe what you say based on what they say?

Why is that? Why is the WORD so offensive to you?

Rick Frueh said...

Ezekiel - I formally and respectfully disengage from you. My communication seems to be counter-productive to us both.

Peace.

Pastor Michael said...

Dan,

Here’s an example of #1 I find interesting. Though I’ve been unable to find the original comment by R. C. Sproul that sparked this, this Open Letter to R.C. Sproul
from John G. Reisinger
illustrates how someone who is exceptionally serious about living a moral, Christ-honoring life can be considered antinomian by another. In the case of Sproul and Reisinger, I suspect one would be hard put to find too much difference between their views on Christian living.

(The specific matter that purportedly caused Sproul to label Reisinger an antinomian was in regard to the New Covenant Theology assertion that the 4th Commandment was no longer binding on the Christian.)

I hope this isn’t too far off base in its utter lack of connection to the new graphic—which, by the way, I like very much for its stirring of the style pot.

Strong Tower said...

No I don't see that, Zeke. If you look at my responses you will see that I am not so unlike you in quoting Scripture.I just understand it. I infact irritate the flesh out of many here, ask Cent.

You simply quote Scripture, stripping it of any meaning that contradicts the postition you put forth; which is as far as I can see, a legalistic self-perfectionism. At least that is the way you come across. And, you avoid answering questions like the last one, which may allow a closer look at who you are.

What did you mean by listing Luke 10:16 and 23?

Again I will ask who is the you, who is the one that hears and doesn't hear, who is the disciple? Where do you see yourself? What do you see that others do not?

Did you go to the link I left. Or did you kiss it off. You accused someone of contradiction. I asked where? So where, and who. My contention is you do not have a clue and you cannot define your own doctrine clearly or are unwilling to do so, to be able to cogently dissect others beliefs or defend your own. Your recourse is to copy over huge amounts of Scripture which ostensibly support your postition but which in reality ofuscates.

Now, what did you mean by what appears a slam which offended Mike. I think, it was a slam, he seemed offended, I am not sure... because your responses are so ethereal.

"Your 2:12 post sounds like you are mocking or scoffing. Have I missed the sense of your post?"

It was actually a joke, not a mockery. The issue had been covered before. Just quoting Scripture without some expression of your understanding of them tells us nothing. It is as a non sequitur. So, and this is the way I took it, it is as informative as quoting non-sense verses. But, you didn't get it and just could not laugh at yourself. But instead you quoted more:

"Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.
3
He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers."

And, I think Mike got your import. You called him a name (letting corrupt communication come out of your mouth Zeke is moldy stinking fruit) and you excused yourself by making yourself the blessed one. Kinda like you did with Luke 10:16 and 23, right? As if the rest of us are all blind and idiots who reject and are opposed to Christ and you are the only enlighten one.

If I am getting you wrong, blame it on the meta, count me a fool, unable to comprehend your lofty speech and irrevocable erudition. But, please condescend, come down to the level of those of us who walk in the shadows of your righteoun brightness and tell us what you mean. Because you speak legalese and brag of your walk of grace. Please then be gracious and give gifts of milk and honey for your meat is too tough to chew.

To the rest- forgive me this, you all know how serrated I can be and how easily I make it to be ignored.

I would like to point out something that Pastor Michael said. A person who strenuously approves of keeping the law to the exclusion of mercy is antinomian while he keeps it diligently. Jesus said, now follow this Zeke cuz I am about to quote at length Scripture: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others...He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness (mercy), and to walk humbly with your God?

It is fully possible, pay attention Zeke, to be so blinded in zeal to keep the law as a means of receiving God's favor that you are not only blind to your own need for mercy, you cannot keep the law of mercy. You might even say things like, "people speak to much of grace and mercy..."

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

Correction up above. I said Mike where it should have been Rick. Sorry...

Rick Frueh said...

ST - since you were born in the same year as was I ('52) we can understand that dementia has set in!
:)

Strong Tower said...

Le creme de mentia?

kooyk <-- my verification code, no kidding...

Michelle said...

Uh, that should be "la creme", Strong Tower. Sorry, just couldn't resist that.

Terry Rayburn said...

pastor michael,

The "Open Letter" by John Reisinger was written in response to a rather disgraceful issue of Tabletalk magazine. I believe it was the September 2004 issue.

Rather than dealing Scripturally with a point-by-point analysis of New Covenant Theology, it was basically a name-calling hit piece which ludicrously branded Reisinger and other New Covenant Theology guys as Antinomian.

It was not only sadly disrespectful, but exhibited such a woeful lack of understanding of what New Covenant Theology is, it reminded me of when, say, Time Magazine reports on the state of Evangelicalism, and quotes Vanderbilt or Harvard theologians to "illuminate" things.

Needless to say, neither Sproul, nor anyone from Tabletalk responded in any way to Reisinger (as of about a year ago, anyway).

John Reisinger, by the way, is an 80-something loving church statesman, who has shown the utmost respect for Covenant Theologians, not the least of which was his late brother Ernie (prominent in the Founders SBC movement), whom he credits with leading him to the Lord many years ago.

John has patiently sought to teach the Word from a NCT view, often in the face of being vilified by some whom he could run circles around theologically, and without the recklessness of those who have dismissed his studies without first understanding them.

John's Sound of Grace online magazine is reviewed by Phil Johnson on his Bookmarks under Helpful Theological Resources as follows:

Calvinism with an emphasis on the discontinuity of the Old and New Covenants. In distinction from more covenantal Reformed and Reformed Baptist views, the "New Covenant Theology" featured at this site downplays the role of the Law in the Christian's sanctification. As noted above, I'm not a proponent of NCT, but I've found my interaction with these views stimulating and helpful. This is the on-line version of the periodical founded by John Reisinger, whom I love and respect, despite our occasionally different points of view. (I would have categorized this site under "Christian Periodicals," but there's much more here than the journal featured on the opening page.)"

Strong Tower said...

But you are French, no? I am but a poor English Pigdog...

Strong Tower said...

Thanks Terry, and Michael. I found John's response insightful. I happen to agree with the NCT view of the Sabbath though I am not fully informed as to all that NCT teaches. Like many things we find in Scripture we latter find systematized in some work.

Anyway, I think it is interesting how blindness to our own legalistic tendencies can cause us to actually be antinomian. Very interesting...

Michelle said...

Actually an English speaking ex-South African Canadian, nearly fluent in Afrikaans.

Strong Tower said...

Wow- Globeular-

I am here in Cheyenne... yet to be determine what country it is in.

ezekiel said...

Strong Tower,

Ok, I will break it down for you. You say you want to know more about me then read Ezekiel 1-5. I am a common man. No seminary training and up until a couple of years ago just like a lot of folks that I see posting here and other blogs. I didn’t have a lot of desire to go to church, talk bible, read bible or live the life of a christian. Oh I called myself one, said I was saved, yet lived the way I wanted. The world couldn’t tell the difference, I looked just like one of them. My work was my idol, the dollar was my god.

Now things changed a couple of years ago, affliction (he really did choose me in the furnace of affliction) and correction and the next thing you know I was searching for answers in the WORD. Desperately searching. You might say I ate the scroll. And still eat it.

Now what happens today as I read through the threads, I see good points, good thought processes, different ways of looking at things, much like what I assume you get by reading the books and writers you apparently read. But what happens then is something attracts my attention. Usually where someone is misapplying scripture or saying something that doesn’t agree with what I have read. So I disagree, argue, whatever you want to call it. I contend for the WORD. I don’t so much care what MacArthur says or anyone else for that matter, just what the WORD says. You learned types, theologians whatever, can talk about Tozer, Piper and all those guys and I will stay out of it.

My pet peeve is preachers that should know better talking up Grace and Mercy, Under the blood, forgiveness and “we all sin and it is ok,” stuff. We don’t find that in the NT or the OT. It is a perversion of what is really in the WORD. We don’t talk about repentance, Christ is Lord, He is Holy and no one will enter the Kingdom unless we are holy. We can’t get past the first step and that is salvation through faith, not of works. We don’t go on and teach repentance, holyness, stop sinning and the power of Christ to change our lives. We profess to know God but deny Him by our works. We even take it to the point that we say we don’t need works, don’t need to bear fruit and if we do, that is a works based salvation and that can’t be right. So we wind up with churches full of folks practicing religion, doing the touchy feely stuff and turning a blind eye to every type of sin in the book, even invent new ones (I know, nothing new under the sun) just a figure of speech. Then have the unmitigated gall to call it under the precious blood of my Savior.

Now that brings us to todays exchange. If Rick is going to give us his opinion and say a bunch of things that directly conflict with scripture, I am going to say something about it. And the way I do that is to show you scripture. If you want to argue about it, argue with what the WORD says, not me. Generally when us humans are confronted with the truth (scripture) when it obviously shows we don’t know what we are talking about, we get offended. So if you disagree with the scripture I have quoted, quote your own or tell me where I have it out of context.

In Rick’s first comment, he uses an example that essentially tells us that we obey because we want to, out of respect and love. Now the question I have is how do we get an example of a father son type of obedience and respect when Paul speaks clearly on the entire subject and uses a slave master example that is consistent with other scripture. And yes, I know the father son examples are present as well but if we keep the context (we are talking about the law, freedom from the law and antimonianism) then why don’t we keep it simple and use what we get from the WORD? Did Paul fail to cover it adequately? Do we need to come up with new examples when it is this clear in the WORD?

And now to you. Do you really need me to exegete Romans 6 for you so that you can see the error in Rick’s teaching? I would think that as well read as you are you can read Romans 6 and even comprehend it. Do you really need help with it? What does it say in Hebrew or Greek? Is there some hidden meaning us common folk can’t get?

You accuse me of quoting scripture and stripping it of meaning that contradicts my position. If it contradicts my position then why would I quote it? Then you call me a legalist and accuse me of self perfectionism. Well here is some more scripture.

Phil 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Now let’s stop here for a minute. Do you need me to tie this back into Romans 6 for you? Can you see how this fits with Romans 6:5?

5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7Forone who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

As to the charge of self perfectionism, what does Paul say? I certainly haven’t attained perfection but like Paul, that doesn’t keep me from pressing for it. Unlike many of my brothers, I am not content to sit around and wring my hands and tell myself that sin is ok and it is under the blood. I am not content to tell myself that I will always sin. This to me, denies the power of Christ to sanctify me and cleanse me with His word (Ephesians 6). I am in effect telling God that he can’t wash me. That seem rather stupid to me. And furthermore it is inconsistent with scripture.

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Now to the joking, or the scoffing or whatever you want to call it. I don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to teaching in error, failure to properly divide the WORD. So what do I do but quote more scripture. You are free to take it any way you want to. The questions about what I read other than the WORD were pointed at the same thing that you and I have had words about before. You want to show your prowess and skill or knowledge of other writers, other opinions and use that to convince us how learned you are. Same thing with seminary training and years of preaching experience. How long is your robe, and how high is your seat? I don’t care and I don’t respect any of that. What I do respect is your knowledge of the WORD and when you quote Piper or MacAthur or Spurgeon that is all well and good but I will always test it against the WORD.

Now let’s talk about moldy fruit. You accuse me of legalistic selfperfectionism. Do you call that name calling or moldy fruit? While we are on that subject, you and I have been using that example and I have lately come across something that tells me we need to find another example. John 15 pretty clearly says that outside of Him we produce NO fruit. So we need to call it what it is. SIN. Not moldy fruit, not pruesent? fruit or whatever. Just SIN.

“now pay attention Zeke”, “now follow this Zeke” in the same paragraph you quote Micah 6:8 is fascinating. Where do you get “walk humbly with your God” in this condescending language. I guess the view from that higher seat, sitting in that long robe gives you another perspective of humble.

As for being blind for my own need for mercy, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I need all the mercy and grace that I can get. If Paul is chief among sinners then I am second to that. Far from being perfect, I can’t get much worse. But I can get better. That is one of His promises. He promises to wrap me in a robe of righteousness and cleanse me of all sin by His blood. His righteousness not mine. His blood, not mine. His faith not mine.

Another way of saying all this is that I am a pastors worst nightmare. At least most of the pastors I see out there today. Israel didn’t fare too well with a bunch of priests and pharisees preaching “peace peace” and to think that we will fair any better without repentance and a hard turn back to the Husband is a strong delusion and a spirit of error running rampant in the “church” today. We have hundreds of years going all the way back to Constantine where we have taught that the “church” is different from Israel and where we have highlighted the differences (grace and mercy) rather than preaching the error that Israel committed and teaching the examples that were recorded to show us how to keep from committing the same errors.

We have created a practice of religion, not that different from what Israel was doing and call it good. Sin all we want and claim to be spiritual descendants of Abraham. We claim we believe but that belief never translates into reverent worship or reverent fear of a holy God. The very same thing that Israel did. Do you ever wonder why preachers don’t preach on Revelations? I think it is because they don’t understand it. If they did, they would have to admit that God is going to pour out his spirit and his wrath on all that do not believe in the latter days. And that message is just a polar opposite of “peace peace” and “grace and mercy”.

I quote a lot of scripture, I try to support everything I say, everything I teach with scripture. Unlike Olsteen or Hagee or some of the others out there, may God strike me dead tonight if I teach and preach in error. I don’t claim to understand it all, in fact, some of the best learning experiences I have is when I am teaching or preaching. I can sometimes understand it better when I am trying to explain it. Does that mean I am never wrong? Hardly. That is where good folks like I find out here come in real handy. They are all quick to point out error and thank God they are willing to do it.

I am the lowest dog on the pole out here. The blind man that Jesus healed. The pharisees have the same reaction to day, sadly enough. Like the blind man though, I am not going to capitulate, tell you that practicing religion is ok and that Grace and Mercy has it all covered. I am going to point you to the BOOK. The WORD. I don’t matter but He does.

And before you all go and jump me and tell me that we are different from Israel, that they had to follow the law, you need to go back and read the OT and look at how many times He stayed his hand when the people made any attempt at returning to Him. Any attempt. He didn't just sit around and tell them, no not good enough, you forgot the show bread...He pleaded with them to worship Him and leave the idol worship. It wasn't all about the temple, the utensils or the perfect observance of the mosaic law either. It was about worshipping God and God alone. It was about turning from Baal and Jezebel. The same thing it is about today.

By the way, I type slow, it is easier to cut and past scripture if it makes the point. We don't have to verify the accuracy of it either.

ChosenClay said...

Hm... when did this thread turn into posting match between strong tower and ezekiel as to who can post the longest?

I vote that we limit these two to no more than 50 words per post!

All in agreement say "aye"

Bobby Grow said...

In the 16th-17th centuries there were nomists and antinomists. The former, best exemplified and defined by William Perkins, called for strict adherence to the "Law" to confirm "real faith" and personal election; while the latter, exemplified by Richard Sibbes, like Luther, emphasized the immediacy of God's grace in the converts heart . . . which meant that a person look "directly" to Christ instead of "my law-keeping" as the basis of personal salvation.

So beyond the pejorative labeling of antinomian there is an historical-context which it comes from, and actually defies its "popular" non-nuanced usage today. I am antinomian in the sense noted above.

peace.

Tom Chantry said...

Ah, the problems that result from multiple definitions…

As has been observed on this thread, there is a subset in evangelicalism which opposes all sense of moral responsibility to observe any set of commands, regardless of their origin in Christ’s own words or in the Old Testament Law. Such a view can certainly be called “antinomian” - it is unquestionably an “against law” position. Furthermore, it is a sub-Christian doctrine. If you don't believe in Jesus as Lord, you don't believe in Jesus. Amen - of course this is so. Consequently, “antinomian” is a fitting appellation for a doctrine so far in error as to raise questions as to one’s salvation.

This is not, however, the manner in which the word has been used historically. I believe that theologians have historically used the term mostly in sense #2: "Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the moral division of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses." This is also a quite true statement. However, it must be observed that there are men who genuinely hold Christ as Lord and teach the responsibility of obedience to Him who nevertheless fit this definition.

Thus the Reisinger / Sproul controversy. Was Sproul right to categorize John Reisinger as an “antinomian” when some antinomians have clearly forsaken the faith? Reisinger’s position on the Sabbath stems from the belief that the New Testament does not teach Sabbath observance. What underlies his conclusion is the belief that the Commandments as given by Moses are not necessarily binding on the Christian. Only those which are explicitly repeated in the New Covenant are binding. That is the precise definition of antinomianism in its traditional, theological meaning. Sproul and most others in the Confessional Reformed denominations view this as a dangerous position and understand that it has traditionally been called “antinomian.” To apply the view is not to equate Reisinger with the more extreme position which has become known as “antinomianism,” but which might better be called “anti-moralism.”

There are many laws, both legitimate and illegitimate, and anyone who opposes any of them might be called “antinomian” in some sense. Theologically, we ought to use the word in reference to those who oppose a law which God intends us to follow. Whoever does so, even if from confusion and ignorance rather than obstinacy and rebellion, is “antinomian” in God’s eyes. Of course Christians disagree with one another as to what laws God intends us to follow, but His view remains the critical view. Sproul is convinced that the commandments as such comprise the moral law of God. He is not radical in this, but stands firmly in Confessional Reformed tradition. As such, anyone who argues against observance of any commandment is “antinomian,” even if he is a brother in Christ.

For what it’s worth, my own view of John Reisinger is this: I love him and I believe he loves Christ. He is a gifted gospel preacher. Both he and his brother had a tremendous influence in my own conversion. At the same time, he is an antinomian - not in the heretical sense of the “anti-moralists,” but in the traditional sense in which the word has been used for centuries.

Rick Frueh said...

Tom - that was a very enlightening comment. Would the late Dr. Gene Scott have been considered part of antinomianism?

Pastor Michael said...

Thanks Tom Chantry. That was very helpful, not just for the Sproul/Reisinger matter, but for the whole thread.

Strong Tower said...

Kay Zeke-

See that wasn't so hard-

Since there is a new law of fifty words or less

You misunderstood-

"As for being blind for my own need for mercy"-

not your acknowledgment of your need of mercy, but your need to learn to grant it to others...

Strong Tower said...

Because with the same measure you measure, you will be measured by...

My fruit is moldy and stinky, at times I produce no fruit, which is the same thing as you say, sin, I just do not believe that 1 John allows for anytime nor even any possibility that... we can perfect ourselves. Nor do I believe that sanctification is first a work of the believer but is the free gift of repentance.

Strong Tower said...

woops, I exceeded fifty.

I am a poor uneducated man, who has never been to seminary, Zeke.

Do you believe that God has place teachers in the body of Christ? Should we reference them and their understanding when seeking to understand the word?

Sorry chosenclay, I'm am trying...

Strong Tower said...

Is it antinomian to devise ways to get around a law like multiple posting...

hmmm

SolaMeanie said...

I'll have to begin by committing a cardinal sin . . . not reading through the meta before commenting. But time is short today.

After looking at Dan's different definitions, it tells me that perhaps I haven't understood antinomianism as well as I should have understood it. I have always taken it to mean those who don't think Christians -- because they are saved by grace -- are under any obligation to follow the commands of Scripture. They take "no law" to literally mean a Christian can live like they choose, no matter if Scripture clearly says a certain behavior or action is sinful. This view may well not be the textbook definition of antinomianism, but it is how I have viewed it.

As a result of that view, I have thought that the whole argument was over a misunderstanding of Christian behavior, sanctification etc. My view in a nutshell is that we are certainly not saved by obedience to a law of any kind. However, if we are indeed truly saved, we will want to order our lives, thoughs and behavior in a manner pleasing to the Lord. He said that if we love Him, we'll keep his commandments. Obedience motivated by love.

If you follow the reasoning out, if we don't want to obey Him, we have to question whether or not we love Him. And if we don't love Him, perhaps our salvation is not genuine.

That's where it all lies with me. Now, whack at me with pleasure. I am not as good at dodgeball as the Emergents, but I'll give it the good college try.

Terry Rayburn said...

Tom wrote:

"Ah, the problems that result from multiple definitions…"

Agreed.

I also agree that the historical origin is related to those who hold that the moral Old Covenant Law is not "binding" on New Covenant believers (unless the moral law is repeated after the New Covenant, in most cases), with a lot of loose play in the meaning of "binding".

A significant problem is two-fold:

1. The historical meaning is virtually always at least pejorative, of not a downright accusation of heresy, and...

2. The meaning of the word has evolved to become a series of forks in the linguistic road, and people pick and choose those forks to suit their purpose -- again, with virtually always that pejorative meaning.

Thus it's almost always used to stop biblical thinking, and merely "brand" someone. And thus it has become utterly un-intellectual in the anti-Berean sense.

Which brings me back to my original point, that we should deal with these things with more biblical terminology, preferably Greek (as in anomia, 1 John 3:4) over Latin (as in antinomi).

For example, examining The Apostle John's words in 1 John 3:4 re lawlessness as a mark of the unbeliever, instead of Sproul's words re "antinomianism" (whatever that is) as a man-made concept.

Or to put it another way, John Reisinger, like some in these comments, would probably "own up" to being an Antinomian in that narrow historical-origin sense, but no one in their right mind wants to go around branding themselves an Antinomian.

So what use is the term? None, in my opinion.

Steve Scott said...

Each definition seems to have some truth to it, but none are all encompassing.

Stefan said...

We can debate which biblical commandments apply to us till the cows come home or Jesus Christ returns, but let's remember to "work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us], both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Phil 2:12b-13)

Bobby Grow said...

Here are a couple good books for those interested in the historical background to "Theological Antinomianism":

The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia by Theodore Dwight Bozeman

and

Orthodoxies in Massachusetts: Rereading American Puritanism by Janice Knight

As far as the historic aspect of defining antinomianism, it goes deeper than just obeying parts of the law--I wouldn't say this is the historical definition at all. In fact the issue has to do with how antinomians understood "grace" vs. their nomian counterparts. Here is John Cotton (a historic proponent of theological antinomians contra the extremists like Anne Hutchinson)and "how" he believed that even John Calvin was antinomian (vs. the typical framing provided by Federal/Covenant theology):

And seeing we all profess . . . to hold forth protestant doctrine, let us hold it forth in the language of Calvin and others [of] our best protestants, who speak of purity of life and growth in grace and all the works of sanctification as the effects and consequents of our assurance of faith . . . . And therefore if we will speak as protestants, we must not speak of good works as cause or ways of our first assurance. . . . [Y]et indeed you carry it otherwise. . . . Which, seeing it disallowed by the chief protestant writers, if you contrary to them do hold it forth for protestant doctrine, that we may gather our first assurance of justification from our sanctification, it is not the change of words that will change that matter. (Ron Frost, unpublished PhD Dissertation, Richard Sibbes’ Theology of Grace and the Division of English Reformed Theology, King’s College, University of London 1996, 13, quoting Hall, Antinomian, 133-34, quoting John Cotton’s, Rejoinder)

The point illustrated is that antinomians (historic) were dealing with the emphasis that the nomists had placed upon the practical syllogism as the calculus for determining one's election (this was causing all kinds of pastoral problems). The crux as identified by historic antinomians, was how "grace" was understood. Historic antinomians held to the immediate/trinitarian understanding of grace (which picked up on Augustine's donum or grace personified by the person of the Holy Spirit); while historic nomists (or "Calvinists")/scholastics held to grace as an "mediate/created quality" which means that the elect were to cultivate or realize their election through the "activation" of grace via the "performance" of good works---by way of "reflex" to the ability to perform good works . . . this person was able to bounce off of their good works, so to speak, and finally look at Christ (you see the problem with this emphasis, "good works" become the nexus through which I verify that I am Christ's).

Let me close my long comment with a quote from Ron Frost (he did his PhD on Puritan Richard Sibbes), he is speaking of historic antinomian (contra Mark Dever's thesis), Richard Sibbes (who led John Cotton to the Lord)and helps substantiates the key issue between nomians and antinomians:

. . . Sibbes understood grace to be God's love offered immediately (rather than mediately) by the Spirit to the elect. By identifying grace primarily as a relational characteristic of God---the expression of his goodness---instead of a created quality or a empowerment of the will, Sibbes insisted that God transforms human desire by the Spirit's immediate love and communion. Faith, for Sibbes, was not a human act-of-the-will but a response to God's divine wooing, God's laws, Sibbes argued, must be "sweetened by the gospel" and offered within a framework of "free grace. . . . (Kelly Kapic, Randall Gleason eds. Ron Frost, "Devoted Life: Chpt. 5," 82)

Thus the historic issue wasn't so much to do with "what" but "why," why first and then maybe what. It had to do with motivation (i.e. the role of grace), and why one desired to do good works. It was because he/she was taken or madly in love with Jesus; not to "prove" one's election.

Btw, Janice Knight, in the book noted above, establishes the point (through historical research) that the Nomists were not necessarily considered the "Orthodox" vs. the "Heterodox" Antinomists . . . the framing was more careful than that--this is prior to the Hutchinsonian/Antinomian controversy.

Sorry for the length of this response, but I figured others have waxed a bit, so I thought, why not ;-)?

ezekiel said...

ST,

"I just do not believe that 1 John allows for anytime nor even any possibility that... we can perfect ourselves."

Your belief needs examination in light of the following scripture. Genesis 17:1. You do claim to be a spiritual descendant to Abraham, right? Then argue your case with Job 1:1, Paul in 2 Cor 7:1, James in 1:4, Peter in 1 Peter 1:15,16 and what do you tell John when he tells you 1 John 3:3?

And I would really like to hear your take on the Sermon on the mount that culminates in Mat 5:48.

ezekiel said...

ST,

New law of 50 words or less? When you tell me that we don't need to obey a whole book full?

"not your acknowledgment of your need of mercy, but your need to learn to grant it to others..".

Would you call it mercy when God sent the prophets and the law to show us where we transgress His holiness? If you do, is it not showing mercy when I point you to where He did it and what He said in the Word?

Is it mercyfull to tell a person that they are saved when in fact, they live like they are going the other direction?

Carlo said...

It was Luther who coined the word "anti-nominianism." And in order to understand how the term was used you'd have to look at the two "anti-nominian" controveries that occurred in the 16th and 17th century with Martin Luther and Anne Hutchinson, respectively.

Most recently it was used by Richard Barcellos several years ago calling NCT "theologically" anti-nomonian(in other words, accusing NCT of redefining the "moral law" as far as the function of the Mosaic law.) He does not accuse NCT of moral anti-nominianism.

And whether I like it or not, antinomianism (even though the word comes from the Greek anti nomos, which means against law), has come to refer to the doctrine that it is not necessary to preach or obey the moral law of the OC.

As Barcellos pointed out, NCT often does disagree when it comes to identifying NCT's fundamental axioms. Proponents like Steve Leherer have utterly thrown NCT in total confusion. But the best defintion I have heard from NCT proponents for how the WHOLE Bible should be used is by Zaspel and Wells where they define that the believer must not only teach every iota of OT but that it must obey every iota of Moses, Prophets, etc., AS it is fulfilled and interpreted in Christ, naturally, what is included in that are the NT books.

It is difficult to "use the word correctly" or "define it correctly" because it was coined many centuries ago, first by Luther. And one might say to Luther, "well, hey, you can't use anti-nominian that way Luther, because it means against law, and NCT Christians, for example, are not against all law."

Well, this is true. In fact, the apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 5 & 6, exactly for that. But the term anti-nominian was not coined by Paul nor actually used by Paul in the NT (at least to my knowledge).

So, I can tell people who throw anti-nominian around they're using it wrong until I'm blue in the face. They have history behind them as to how the term was used (as far as I know).
If one defines the use and function of the Bible as reading it in its totality and studying it in its totality and teaching others to observe everything it commands from Gen to Rev AS it is fulfilled in Christ, it makes those who throw the word "anti-nominian" around irrelevant.

ezekiel said...

ST,

"Do you believe that God has place teachers in the body of Christ? Should we reference them and their understanding when seeking to understand the word?"

Sure, but let me ask you a question. Why do you put so much emphasis on your earthly teachers when you have John 14:23-26?


Do you think that God has or would place false teachers in the Body of Christ? How do you tell the difference?

Bobby Grow said...

Carlo,

what about my points? You simply glossed over that. There is more to this "defining" process than just Anne Hutchinson, the popular poster-child for those who "pejorativize" the language of "anti-nomian." To follow your logic, we might as well dash the historicity of the resurrection on the rocks, simply because of the multiplicity of accounts.

Carlo said:

So, I can tell people who throw anti-nominian around they're using it wrong until I'm blue in the face. They have history behind them as to how the term was used (as far as I know). . . .

What are you talking about? The history of "antinomianism" originally had nothing to do with "law-less" living per se, it had to do with issues of "assurance of election." To latch on to an extreme position of "antinomianism," as the norming norm of that term (i.e. Anne Hutchinson)is to engage in a "hasty generalization" and a "special pleading" of history. There is nothing fruitful to come from this approach, except the re-enforcement of the simple pre-understandings particular to a priori biases of those who have not taken the time to study the history on this issue.

Why do you think appeal to scripture is going to bring clarity on this? Until we expose what truly is under-neath our interpretive traditions and pre-understandings as informative grids to our interpretive decisions . . . this discussion will devolve into a shouting match---and whoever yells scripture louder evidently wins. If that is the end of these kinds of discussions, and apparently it is, as evinced by this thread, then count me out.

peace.

DJP said...

Melodramatic Overreaction Alert.

Carlo said...

Bobby Grow,

Please don't take this personally, but the only thing I read was Dan's original post less than an hour ago and did not read any of the other posts, including your points. Also, I'm not subscribing to the thread. I wasn't responding to anyone on the thread. Anyway, I'll let you guys get back to discussing what you were discussing.

Ciao,

Carlo

Strong Tower said...

Answer it for yourself Zeke.

Job said: I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
what is with the Almighty I will not conceal... God answered: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!... Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.

Job answered: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further...

God said: Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?

Then Job said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

IOW Zeke way back there in Job 1:1 Job was declared righteous by God but the fact was that his heart was evil and in the fires of affliction the fornications in his heart against God came out his mouth in the end. He was accused by God of being a fool, boastful and speaking words without knowledge. IOW God called him a liar. This is all done as the Prophet Elihu has said to save Job. The proof is Job's repentance from holding that God was merely a harsh judge without mercy and lacked the judgement to be even that. In the end Job did exactly what his wife prophetically said he should do. He cursed God. But, grace upon grace, God does not react to his blasphemy with death, but with mercy.

Now, before you quote Job 1:1 as a plea for perfectionism, at least read Job, all of it.

MOA? It's entertainment!

Bryan Riley said...

Sigh. Way too hard to read these comments to comment. I first came across the term in blog comments where pastors were putting others down for "sounding antinomian" and I figured out what I thought it meant in context. I probably googled it later. Generally, I identify with the notion that a true antinomian thinks they can do whatever they want to do.

Bobby Grow said...

Oh give me a break, DJP! Maybe if you actually would interact meaningfully , instead of throwing out the typical anecdotal quips that seem to shape most of your responses, I could actually take you seriously . . . now back to the cartoons.

DJP said...

Bryan, that's probably the most useful definition, but it's incomplete. Why do they think that? What's the rationale? Do they slander grace, or the Holy Spirit, to get there? Or are they just amoral idiots?

Bobby Grow said...

Carlo,

yeah, my assumption was that you had read the previous comment meta . . . I guess if you didn't I can see how any clarification was over-looked. In that regard, forget what I said in response to you.

peace.

ezekiel said...

ST,
I guess you are going to get back to me on Mat 5?

ezekiel said...

DJP,

Rebellion, false prophets, doctrinal error. And Jesus even told us that it was going to happen. Matt 7:15 and 24:11.

The Ezekiel 13:9-10 and 22:25-28 types.

Pastor Michael said...

Re Dan's 4:21PM comment:

May I suggest a fourth rationale:
Augustine's "Love God and do as you please."

I'm not suggesting that following this aphorism leads to antinomianism; just pointing out that some may see/use this as justification for it. Personally, I think that true love of God leads to cherishing all His decrees.

Michelle said...

Pastor Michael, I agree that true love for God leads to cherishing all His decrees.

I think 1 Peter 1:2 is instructive on this issue. "... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure."

My MacArthur Study Bible notes say: "Believers are set apart from sin to God in order that they might obey Jesus Christ. True salvation produces obedience to Christ (cf. Eph 2:10; 1 Th 1:4-10)." And, with reference to "sprinkled with His blood": "This phrase is based on Moses' sprinkling sacrifical blood on the people of Israel as a symbol sealing their covenant as they promised to obey God's Word. Likewise, in the New Covenant, faith in the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross not only activates God's promise to give the believer perfect atonement for sin, but also brings the believer into the covenant by one's promise of obedience to the Lord and His Word."

Interesting to look at this topic from a covenantal perspective.

Tom Chantry said...

That the term has grown less useful through a multiplication of meanings, I do not dispute. That does not mean that the word in its initial use has necessarily lost all power and usefulness.

Remember, whoever teaches a position against a law which God expects us to obey is taking a position, either intentionally or not, which is anti-moral. This is positively perilous. Those of us who hold that the ten commandments are the revelation of the moral l. must warn against preaching and teaching which opposes God's intent for the Christian life. It must be possible to say "this is dangerous error" without saying "this person is a soul-destroying heretic." Use of the term "antinomian" in its traditional sense is justified. And yes, it is pejorative, though not in the most extreme possible sense.

ezekiel said...

"Interesting to look at this topic from a covenantal perspective."

That is exactly the way Christ is looking at it. Profaning His blood is far worse than profaning the blood sprinkled by Moses. We see that in Hebrews 10

Bobby Grow said...

Here is an article that I penned (it's longer than is appropriate for a comment meta) on the differences between "Nomianism" (Federal Theology), and its counterpart "Antinomianism" (Affective Theology): Quid Pro Quo Salvation or "Free Grace": Comparing and Contrasting William Perkins and Richard Sibbes

Hopefully this helps to further substantiate what historic antinomianism was all about: i.e. Sibbes' view (in the article) vs. Perkins. Interestingly, historic or theological antinomianism or better anti-nomists
were not opposed to the "Law" whatsoever, rather it had to do with its proper framing--which includes definitions of grace, sin, and holiness amongst an array of other "meta" issues.

I suppose my frustration comes in, when terms are ripped out of context, and that pre-textual, or post-textual usage becomes an anachronism which is then used w/o understanding to its original usage and intention. I suppose the best analogy I can think of is the term "catholic." Since the Patristics and early church used this as descriptive of wherever the church of Christ be found, "universal." Of course when we hear Catholic today, we think of Rome, as its ecclesiological referent. When a Catholic reads "catholic" in the Patristics they assume, ah yes, that's me . . . and history says, no its not (per se). There is an equivocation that takes place.

That's what I want to challenge with the term "antinomian." If we are "people of the truth," then we need to be "careful" in our articulation of ideas, and the way we use those.

Anyway, I've said way too much, and I'm afraid it will fall on deaf ears . . .

peace.

Bryan Riley said...

I think it is because they have set themselves up as gods. It's just modern day idolatry. Our culture is highly individualistic and the worship of self - manifested either by self-pity or through arrogance - is a hot commodity.

frickfricker said...

Christians like to have a "buffet" style of selection of Old Testament laws to follow. Killing is still bad, but Saturdays aren't set aside. This is ludicrous! We are free from ALL the Old Testament law... with a catch:
"everyone who...lust[s] for her HAS ALREADY committed adultery..." "everyone who is angry with his brother...shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
We are to take the OT principles and apply them more fully. If Saturday was holy, now all week is set aside for the Lord. If killing was bad, hating is equally naughty. We are freed from the letter of the law to ensnare every fiber of our being and thought every moment of every day to obedience to our father (in opposition to earning salvation or rank within the kingdom).
While freed from Old Testament Law, the new church has freed itself from New Testament commands as well. Divorce and remarriage are winked at in the name of Grace. Homosexuality and fornication are "re-thought" in emergent post structuralist light. Doctrinal abandonment is marshalled as ecumenical enlightenment.
In short, antinomian thought has neutered God and made him/her into a forlorn lover, playing guitar in a field of fragrant daisies, waiting for you to get past all these rules, man, and just come hold him/her and commune with our father/mother/earth/higher self/lower self/inner light.
When actual commands of New Testament strength or principles of Old Testament wisdom are employed, their label makers shoot a frenzy of "legalist heretic" sticky bullets.
Second Thesselonians 3:14 reminds us: If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.
(Wow! Emergants must just ignite in flames when they read that. Has everything! Obedience, Inspiration, Shame, non ecumenical woodstock love joy joy happy feelings; I just love it!)
I actually had a pastor tell me that blind obedience to the Word would take the Holy Spirit out of a situation (we were dealing with divorce and remarriage). How arrogant! He was saying that the silent leadings of his internal Holy Spirit trumps the inspiration of the writers of the New Testament. It's like Charismatic Poker (A pair of "Thus Sayeth the Lord" beats your three "Tongues with Interpretation!"). I bet that this is the most common antinomian heresy active in most evangelical churches today.

Stefan said...

Frick Fricker:

Yup, I hear you on your last point. Except what's worse is that not merely are some people elevating "leadings of the Holy Spirit" that contradict Scripture, above the Spirit-authored Holy Scripture, but this often becomes an issue in cases of adultery, divorce, lust, etc. "It feels so right, so how can it be wrong?"

...In which cases, isn't it not merely setting "the Holy Spirit" (which it isn't) in self-contradiction (as if that weren't bad enough), but in fact blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?

That's a scary position to be in....

Stefan said...

...And I hasten to add, this general phenomenon of interpreting emotions as leadings of the Spirit isn't a problem exclusive to charismatics, from what I can tell. Depravity of the human heart is non-denominational!

ezekiel said...

Stefan,

The way I like to counter those that would justify ____ sin by calling it leading of the Holy Spirit is with John 14:21

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. 25 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

We have to remember that the Holy Spirit doesn't speak from His own authority but can only speak what the father tells Him.

John 16:12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Only Look said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Only Look said...

Wasn't Chad Bresson and Steve Camp implying that you guys were antinomian as well as arminian about this time last year on that Chan video thing?

At one point in Jonah's life, he felt God to be a bit too much antinomian for himself and so I would like to make a point that there is always a bigger fish leading us to great lengths of subjectivity in this debate.

Or maybe the little fish judges the big one for being to gentle because he wishes he were a bigger fish.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

greglong said...

Although I wish some of the squabbling had been eliminated from this meta, I did come to realize that I am theologically (not morally) anti-nomian.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4 ESV)

7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
(2 Corinthians 3:7-11 ESV)

Becky, a slave of Christ said...

I looked up antinomian in the 1828 Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language and my friend Noah defined it as follows, “One of a sect who maintain, that, under the gospel dispensation, the law is of no use or obligation; or who hold doctrines which supersede the necessity of good works and a virtuous life. This sect originated with John Agricola about the year 1538.”

The lack of the use of the word antinomian does not necessarily indicate a lack of antinomians. I would like to be able to say that, as a slave of Christ, I am never guilty of this, but I know that way too much of the time my actions say otherwise.

I also should mention that I have been a closet Pyromaniac for a long time now and on this, my official coming out, I must say that I absolutely love your graphics. Always notice them, and I think Gollum looks really good in your logo.

In fact, I noticed the gold and red throne you used in your Grace: eighteen affirmations and denials post is the same throne on the cover of MacArthur’s book, Second Coming.

frickfricker said...

I wouldn't go so far as to use the phrase "blaspheme the Holy Spirit" describing those who trump scripture with personal emotional bias. That phrase seals the abuser as unforgiven by scripture.
I have a softer point of view, since I have been guilty at times of trumping the clear teaching based on my internal "wisdom." Mea Culpa is a decent place to start.
I think in context of that verse, where the politial powers were equating the work of Jesus and His miracles to satan, this is more applicable to modern church leaders who condemn the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation as evil. There aren't that many now, but the Emerging church is eagerly digging under the foundation of this truth (their successive generations will undoubtedly cause to crumble this quaint notion that only Jesus saves).
As far as this phenomenon being not exclusively charismatic, you are right, Stefan. But, at the same time, it is impossible to draw a distinctive line in which churches/church goers are charismatic. That loose mindset has so infiltrated all thought in the church universal it is now a condition for which many could test positive!
(That is my fear when attracting the post modernists into our church; that they will introduce a philosophical strain of non-biblical authoritativeness to which few will be innocculated with sound teaching. If the post moderns repent and convert, I love it. If they keep their twisted theology of universalism, then hit the road. But I digress...)

P.S., when I described Jesus in the field with a guitar, how many of you saw Him with dreadlocks??? I sure did, as did my wife (snicker!)

Bobby Grow said...

I guess trying to clarify the "historic development of antinomists" has been lost. Like I said "on deaf ears." When folks believe that the dictionary and denotative definitions of a compound word are adequate in defining Antinomist, then this indeed is a lost cause.

Who are you all talking about, anyway? Who represent the "antinomist" to you, today? It can't be the Arminian, they are more nomist or for the Law than the Calvinist. So if you're not talking about Arminians, then who? It can't be Free Grace (Zane Hodge style), they place as much of an emphasis on good works as the Calvinist (most of their leadership are Calvinist)---their referent is just glorification not justification. So if its none of these people, then who, theologically? Like I have argued here, and in way more depth in the article I have linked here, historic antinomists don't fit these easy dictionary definitions, nor its denotative sense.

The antinomian notion being argued against here, is its secularized version. Which all I can say to that is, wow. Are we surprised that pagans are antinomian?

Who is your theological foil, all? Who is the theological antinomian, today? This discussion is way too etheral . . . it seems very straw man.

frickfricker said...

Bobby: Emergants ant the Emerging church.
Ah-Thangyou.

And yes, I am describing more the type of antinomialism spoken by the late William F. Buckley, less what is in a theology book. Also I am describing what I have seen in many churches poisoned by this post modern fetish who replace all New Testament constraints with cheap grace.

Bobby Grow said...

Well Frick,

thanks for the response. Of course the emergents aren't monolith; and Postmodern epistemology does not necessarily lead to antinomianism. I.e. there is a difference between being antinomian theologically (who historically have been very conservative), and "liberal" theologically.

That's why my last point, in my previous comment was that what seems to be being discussed here is a "secularized" (liberalism) version of theology . . . which is being labeled "antinomian." But properly speaking this has nothing to do with theological antinomianism.

frickfricker said...

Truth Unites...And Divides:
New phrase for the antinomianilismistationist:

How about "Libertine?" No, that would just make people think of Johnny Depp, then they would make tshirts brag about it. ugh.

Bobby:
You are right about emergent not immediately equaling libertine. There was actally a problem with Judaisers in Rob Bell's cul.. I mean church. These where true legalists who insisted all the OT was to be obeyed by NT converts.

Libertine and Legalist both worship limits and allowances, rules and loopholes. Like lawyers, they are bull. I mean, they are two horns on the same bull (oops!)
Both run amuck when the authority of scripture is diminished and improperly understood.

Rich Barcellos said...

I agree with Tom Chantry. Historically speaking, 'antinomian' is a highly nuanced, technical term. When I get home, assuming I remember, I will send evidence to that end.

The guy who wrote the Table Talk article and who submitted it to three men with Ph.Ds. in 17th century theology prior to publication,

Rich Barcellos

candyinsierras said...

Ezekial said: No cappuccino for me thanks. I like black. Prolly won't suprise you that I grind my own either.

Better to grind coffee than to grind teeth.

just joking.

candyinsierras said...

Only Look said: Wasn't Chad Bresson and Steve Camp implying that you guys were antinomian as well as arminian about this time last year on that Chan video thing?

I think it is not hard to imagine that in Steve Camp's eyes, almost everyone else seems to be an antinomian.

Frank Turk said...

Has it been only a year since the Francis Chan thing? I feel much older than that.

DJP said...

It made us feel older.

Stefan said...

Candy:

And better to grind teeth than to gnash teeth!

Frickfricker:

You're right that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is probably in a whole different category than what we're talking about.

Actually confronting a brother or sister who's persisting in sin in the mistaken idea that he or she is being led into it by the Holy Spirit should involve correction, compassion, prayer, pointing them to Scripture, and eventually if need be, going the Matthew 18 route, with an eye to ultimate reconciliation.

Pulling the ace of trumps on them and wrongly scaring them into thinking they've committed the unpardonable sin—when there's still hope of repentance and they haven't outright apostasized Hebrews 10-style—would be an ill-advised and irresponsible course of action.

Terry Rayburn said...

rich barcellos,

"The guy who wrote the Table Talk article and who submitted it to three men with Ph.Ds. in 17th century theology prior to publication."

Ah-h, there's the problem. You submitted your article to three PhD's in 17th Century theology, when the term "antinomianism" originated in the 16th century! --That's a little side joke, Rich :)

Seriously, the Tabletalk issue had one or two other articles in addition to yours, and none of them seemed designed to "nuance" the meaning of "antinomianism", but to smear both Dispensationalists and New Covenant Theology guy, both of whom were called "antinomian".

Nor did the articles attempt to really engage the *arguments* of Dispensationalism and NCT, or even to represent them fairly.

The entire impression a fair reader would have was of an attempt to "brand" those who disagree with you as false teachers -- serious men who love Christ and His Word, but who don't, for example, think that the command to keep the Sabbath Day is applicable to New Covenant believers.

I won't go into the reasons for such non-Sabbatarianism in this context (an example from MacArthur is available here. Perhaps you know them well.

But I have long thought that those who are Covenant Theology guys are (if I may use one of the loose non-historical definitions of "antinomian") really "antinomian Sabbatarians", since they call for obedience to the Fourth Commandment, but without it being the seventh day, and with neither the biblical restrictions of Sabbath-keeping, nor the biblical punishments for violating it. Sort of "Sabbath Lite", except on Sunday.

(Yes, I have read Edwards' Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath, which I consider light on Scriptural argument, and heavy on philosophical reasoning. Not as God-breathed as some seem to think of it, though it's about as good as could be expected if your *premise* is that Sunday is the new Sabbath, and binding on the Christian -- a bad premise, IMHO.)

To all,

In any case, I urge all to read Reisinger's previously mentioned Open Letter to Sproul, if you haven't already, since it covers much ground I won't belabor here.

Meanwhile, I still insist that the term "antinomian" is pretty much a worthless one, since it either has to be "nuanced" at length for its historical roots, or redefined and misused for less-than-noble purposes.

Or to put it another way...

Before using the term "antinomian", ask yourself, "Am I trying to seek to understand and clarify *biblical* truth, or am I trying to 'spin' in such a way as to merely smear or defeat my theological opponent?"

I believe if one asks that question, they will not bother using the almost-useless term, but will use more explanatory language.

Terry Rayburn said...

I forgot, in regards to "antinomian" (loosely speaking) Law-Keepers, I once met a family who said that they believe we should obey the Old Covenant dietary laws, "except it's okay to eat pork".

I guess they're Jimmy Dean fans.

Stefan said...

Terry:

Would those people then be "antinomian theonomists"?

Kosher (contra Galatians), but pork's okay. The mind boggles....

Only Look said...

Does Jimmy Dean work on Sundays?

DJP said...

Does Jimmy Dean work on Sundays?

Works for me.

(Ba-dum bum)

Pastor Michael said...

Pinging Rich Barcellos. (Wish I knew how to do that.) Would love to hear your thoughts on this thread; hope you remember to write when you get home.

Personally, I have learned a great deal from the comments and the links. Had no idea how loaded, nuanced, and technical the term antinomian could be.

For those challenged by following all 133 comments, some with lengthy links, here’s a summary of what I’ve gotten so far:

1) The word seems to have been coined by Martin Luther in response to the idea put forth by Johannes Agricola that Christians were entirely free from the Mosaic Law.

2) From Bobby Grow’s reference, a few years later the term took on an exceptionally nuanced use to describe differences between William Perkins and Richard Sibbes, with Sibbes (of all people!) considered antinomian for seeing a transformation of the affections being the primary vehicle of sanctification, while Perkins and the nomists viewed “human responsibility as the center-theme of salvation”. I didn’t see the word “antinomian” in the article, but I can see how it might have been applied. Something else I learned, worth reading the article for, concerned Sibbes’ and Perkins’ disagreement over the “privative” vs. “positive” nature of sin and the cause of the fall.

3) Webster’s 1858 Dictionary has a definition, “One of a sect who maintain, that, under the gospel dispensation, the law is of no use or obligation; or who hold doctrines which supersede the necessity of good works and a virtuous life. This sect originated with John Agricola about the year 1538.” (I’m reminded here of R. C. Sproul’s observation in Chosen By God” that based on Webster’s definition of predestination about the best thing you could determine from it was that Webster was a Lutheran.)

4) A modern use of the term, not too far removed from Luther’s, was in a 2002 article by Rich Barcellos in Table Talk magazine apparently applying it to the proponents of New Covenant Theology. One of those proponents, John Reisinger, authored a lengthy response saying at best he should be considered a 1/10 antinomian, because the only functional difference between him and his critics was in their view of Sabbath keeping.

5) Contemporary uses of the word are loosely connected to its historical roots but mostly based upon an informal translation of the term into English, “being against the law”. This can be used by most anyone who feels they are more scrupulous about pleasing God than another. Related to this is the use by some to describe modern “free grace” adherents and by some to describe the emerg/ing/ent/er church.

6) Lastly, I’m tempted to apply the term to myself, because though I cherish all God’s decrees, I believe Romans 7:6: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Ephesians 2:14-16: For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And Hebrews 8:13: In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (All ESV)

Sorry for the length; I was trying to be helpful.

SolaMeanie said...

Why does Phil's poster, "You're not the boss of me" come to mind all of a sudden?

Pastor Michael said...

Not sure if something I wrote prompted Solameanie to think about the "You're not the boss of me" Po-Motivator, but I certainly don’t want anyone to think that’s where I’m coming from.

Maybe I should have added to my scriptural convictions about the law that I hold deeply to Romans 6:15-18: What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (ESV)

And for good measure, Romans 8:12-13: So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (ESV)

Antonio said...

Here is a justly famous quote from Professor Zane C. Hodges on both Antinomianism and Legalism:

Uh, oh! Here’s another of those nasty theological words—antinomianism! According to Berkhof the denial of the third use of the law is a mark of the antinomians. But if the word legalism is wrapped in obscurity these days, the term antinomianism is enveloped in Stygian darkness!

For instance, my copy of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has only one definition for this word, which it designates as its meaning in theology. Listen to this: "antinomian n. Theology. A member of a Christian sect holding that faith alone is necessary for salvation."4 Well, how about that! If that’s all we’re talking about under the term antinomian, I cheerfully confess to being one. And so, I imagine, would every member of GES, since that’s the doctrine articulated in our doctrinal confession. But I take great comfort in the fact that under the American Heritage definition, the apostle Paul himself should be classified as an unreconstructed antinomian!

I wish it were all as simple as that. But of course it isn’t. I said before we were talking about a muddy, muddy word here, and we certainly are. You see the term antinomian has a complicated theological history.

Martin Luther is thought to have been the first to utilize the term, in his controversy with Johann Agricola. Agricola is said to have denied the relevance of the moral law in bringing a sinner to repentance. On the other hand, some who have accepted this second, or pedagogic, use of the law, have still been called antinomians. For example, Hugh Blair writes that they (the antinomians) "insist that the moral law has no place in the life of the believer, who is not under law but under grace, and so not bound by the law as a rule of life for Christian living."5 As you can see, this articulation of things is close to Berkhof’s third use of the law. The main difference is that Blair specifies "the moral law" and Berkhof mentions simply "the law." Obviously we have opened a can of worms.

A reading of all the documents in the second edition of David D. Hall’s, The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638: A Documentary History6 reveals that the nature of this controversy has been repeatedly misrepresented both in the theological classroom and in theological literature. The controversy was not at all about the need for holy living—all sides agreed to this. Thus Anne Hutchinson, the famous villainess of the controversy, "was not a ‘libertine’ who advocated sexual license."7 In fact, the controversy was not about sanctification per se but about assurance of salvation. So Hall writes: "I argued in 1968, and would argue again, that assurance of salvation was the central issue in the controversy."8

I would like to suggest that today the term antinomian is largely what you make it. That’s unfortunate, but I’m afraid it’s true. But of course the root derivation of the word simply means "opposed to law." Not necessarily to the law of Moses per se, but simply to law as such. It would be nice if all parties in the current debate over the Gospel could agree to confine the term to those who are opposed to all forms of law in the Christian life. That is to say, an antinomian would then be one who held that there are no laws governing Christian behavior so that the Christian is entirely free from commandments and binding obligations. That kind of definition would clarify things a lot.

For one thing, under that definition, Paul was certainly not an antinomian. After all, it was Paul who said (1 Cor 9:21) that in seeking to win to Christ those who were "without law," he became "as without law"—but he hastens to add, "not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ." In another place he can say, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). Regardless of the precise meaning of this text, it certainly shows that Paul could think in terms of Christian law. In addition, the NT everywhere asserts that our Lord left commandments that are binding on His followers today.

So you see what I mean. If we could confine the designation antinomian to those who will not acknowledge any such thing as a Christian law, we would clarify the situation greatly. But don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Antinomian is too good a Christian "cuss-word" to retreat easily to the fringes of theological debate in the way I am suggesting. It just happens to be a very convenient cudgel with which to bludgeon theological opponents whose attributes and theology offend us. I regret to say that Christian polemicists do not readily retire their most useful brickbats, anymore than the nuclear powers easily discard their nuclear arsenals. It’s nice to have something with which to blow your opponents off the face of the map, and antinomianism serves very well for that purpose in some theological circles.

So how about my own nuclear arsenal? What theological word is my big bomb? All right. I’m going to admit it. My own nuclear riposte is wrapped up in one word: legalism.

Taken from "Legalism, the Real Thing" found at:
http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1996ii/Hodges.html

Rich Barcellos said...

The Table Talk article I was asked to write was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 words. There's only so much you can do with that kind of limitation. I am pretty sure I qualified 'antinomian' whenever I used in in refernece to NCT. I sent the article to Tom Wells before it went into print. I don't think he thought it was intended to smear anyone. BTW, Terry, how can you know that in the first place?

Here is a footnote in an article I wrote a few years ago. It shows that the nuanced use of antinomian is in older literature as well as contemporary literature.

"Historically, antinomians have been labeled differently, depending on the type of antinomianism adhered to. Practical antinomians not only teach against law in the Christian life, they also advocate lawless living. Doctrinal antinomians, however, do not advocate lawless living, but they deny the third use of the law or, at best, advocate it, but redefine what law means. See Turretin, Institutes, 2:141ff. where he discusses the fact that antinomians deny the third use of the law. See Ernest F. Kevan, The Grace of Law (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976, second printing, February 1983), 22 (n.32), 24, 25, for evidence that those who denied the perpetuity of the Decalogue and, hence, the third use of the law, were labeled as moderately antinomian or doctrinally antinomian, even though considered otherwise virtuous. See also Jonathan F. Bayes, The Weakness of the Law (Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press, 2000), 44-46, where he discusses John G. Reisinger in the context of doctrinal antinomianism, my article “The Death of the Decalogue,” Tabletalk, September 2002, which is a brief discussion of the doctrinal antinomianism of NCT, my review of New Covenant Theology by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel in Reformed Baptist Theological Review, I:1, January 2004, and Ian McNaughton, “Antinomianism in Historical Perspective” and James M. Renihan, “Caterpillars and Butterflies,” which is a book review of New Covenant Theology in Reformation Today, September-October 2003, No. 195, 9-16 and 23-26. NCT, as a movement, abominates practical antinomianism, and rightly so."

The enitre article is here: http://www.rbtr.org/samples.html. It deals with John Owen and New Covenant Theology, specifically the mis-understanding and mis-use of Owen by both Reisinger and Wells.

Pastor Michael said...

Thanks, Rich.

(For those still following this thread, here’s a direct link to Richard’s article.)

As if anyone will still be around, I’ll need a few weeks to digest all this enough to comment.

Pastor Michael said...

Sorry for taking two posts to complete my thought, but circumstances provided a little more time to add to my previous comment.

Anyway, I am fascinated by the subject, because it seems to me that since Christ has come, his words and his example ought to be the rule of life in faith and practice. And while the law has great value for gaining insight and understanding into the meaning of Christ’s’ teaching, it should be Christ’s words that govern us, not those of Moses.

Having never studied this in depth, I look forward to reading what the giants of understanding, Owen, Calvin and Luther have to say about this.

A side note to the Pyro hosts, is continuing this discussion over time ok? I’m sure you guys have enough on your plates that you don’t need comments on exhausted threads popping up in your inbox all the time.

DJP said...

Michael, for that very reason (because we can't monitor meta's endlessly) we instituted a policy change, and lock meta's before they drop off the front page.

Pastor Michael said...

DJP,

Thanks for the reply; the “new” policy makes absolute sense. I wonder how the three of you preside over as much as you do, what with this, your two other blogs, Frank’s fourteen, and Phil’s link extravaganza, not to mention your family, church and work responsibilities. It’s all I can do to post once a week on my blog with its two readers.

Anyway, perhaps one day when you’re hurting for an idea you can come back to this thread from a slightly different angle, say on the three uses of the law. For that matter, even before this post I was thinking about writing to ask you to consider a post on the first use of the law. I have the greatest respect for The Way of the Master guys, but wonder if in light the Old Covenant’s passing if we shouldn’t focus more on the unredeemed’s failure to keep Christ’s commandments, now that one greater than Moses has come.

And now for some shameless fawning: I hope for the opportunity to meet you at Band of Bloggers or during the conference proper.

DJP said...

And now for some shameless fawning: I hope for the opportunity to meet you at Band of Bloggers or during the conference proper.

Love to, Michael.

And as to the three uses of the law, I think you might have three perspectives on the Law amongst the three of us!

Terry Rayburn said...

Rich,

You wrote, "I sent the article to Tom Wells before it went into print. I don't think he thought it was intended to smear anyone. BTW, Terry, how can you know that in the first place?"

1. I was very careful in my previous comment to say that it *seemed* like the use of the term "antinomian" was used to smear Dispensationalists and New Covenant Theology folks.

Perhaps "smear" is too strong a word (maybe "discredit" would be better), but I still think that was the effect of using that word.

John Reisinger thought so, too, and said in his Open Letter,

"One of those articles, "The Death of the Decalogue," by Richard Barcellos, applied the ODIOUS [emphasis Terry's] label of theological antinomian to Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel, co-authors of the book New Covenant Theology (page 55), and to me (page 16)."

2. I know of no one who doesn't think the term "antinomian" is "odious", and the application of that odious term short-circuits analytical thinking, as opposed to encouraging it.

It's considered by most as heresy, and isn't far removed from calling a political Conservative a Nazi, for example.

Oh, they're a Nazi? I won't bother listening to them. End of story.

Then, of course, they're forced to defend themselves as not being a Nazi, but the damage is done in some minds.

3. I had said from memory that there were one or two other articles in the Tabletalk issue, but there were actually a total of five.

4. Even the Tabletalk issue itself was inconsistent in its use of the term "antinomian".

As Reisinger wrote in his Open Letter,

"We are especially grateful to you for clearly defining, in the article by Morton Smith (pages 8-10, 54), what was historically considered antinomianism. We can only wish you had used that definition consistently throughout the entire issue instead of having it discarded for new and different definitions, especially the definition used by Richard Barcellos."

Morton Smith, in his article, quotes a work entitled Antinomianism Discovered and Confuted by Thomas Gataker, a member of the Westminster Assembly, that lists six marks of antinomianism.

Reisinger cries out,

"Not a single one of the six things on that list are true of Tom Wells, Fred Zaspel or me. One of the six could conceivably apply, but only if our view was misunderstood. The other five are far off from our convictions."

5. The overriding impact of the articles was that NCT proponents were "against law" in some scary sense.

In Keith Mathison's article in the TT issue, he labels Dispensationalism as antinomian.

And you, Rich, said that New Covenant Theology is "more dangerous than explicit antinonianism" (page 15).

Really?

Even Sproul, in his article, "To The Gallows With Moses!", quotes true antinomian Johannes Agricola, who indicated that someone could willfully live a life of sin and still be a child of God.

He goes on to quote the little poem,

"Free from the law,
Oh blessed condition;
We can sin all we want,
And still have remission."

Tabletalk readers, as Reisinger puts it,

"...by implication, have every reason to believe that Wells, Zaspel and I believe the same thing as Agricola. However, we have preached, and will continue to preach, the absolute necessity and certainty of the final perseverance of the saints. We disagree with Agricola just as strongly as you do. You unjustly malign us by innuendo."

6. All of which circles around to my main point, which is that the term "antinomian" is at best pretty useless, and at worst a word to smear (okay, "discredit") those who are not Covenant Theology folks, without having to engage them in Scriptural dialogue or debate.

7. Finally, you are as capable as most any contemporary guy to defend your Covenant Theology, as evidenced by other articles of yours, and your book In Defense of the Decalogue. Not to say that I found them convincing, but at least they state the case with a Scripturally-oriented framework.

Who, besides a Church History geek, really needs the term "antinomian"?

Sola Scriptura (and I know we agree on that, brother),

Terry

Rich Barcellos said...

Terry,

After the article was published, many wrote me privately and I even had an extended discussion on an email list. I learned a few things via these discussions. I will share a few closing observations of mine then sign off for now:

1. My original copy of the article did soften the blow of utilizing the phrase "theological [or "doctrinal"] antinomianism." Some crucial qualifies were edited, though not by me. I have since sought to define and highly qualify what I mean by the nuanced use of antinomian in a published article which was also an appendix to a book - "Covenant Theology From Adam to Christ," by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen. You can see the book at www.rbap.net.

2. The fact that the broader, nuanced meanings of antinomianism (i.e., doctrinal, practical, theological, heretical, etc.) are not well known by some does not mean they are not useful terms. Confessional Christians often discuss issues in terms of their confessioal heritage. That's all I was doing.

For instance, confessional Presbyterians often call confessional Reformed Baptists predestinarian Baptists, not Reformed, and/or not covenantal. I understand why they do this. It is certainly possible that some do this to give the appearance of superiority and others to smear. The Lord knows their hearts. But others do it to categorize a group of churches in terms they can understand.

3. The book "The Weakness of the Law," by Jonathan Bayes, recommended by Sinclair Ferguson and Erroll Hulse, is one example of contemporary scholarship making a distinction between "practical" and "doctrinal antinomianism."

May the Lord help us (me first and foremost!) to speak to each other as brothers, though we may disagree. I have found that Tom Wells has been such a good example to me in this area. We have become good friends through all of this. I esteem him highly.

Press on, my brother!

Rich B.

PS: The "more dangerous" comment was originally qualified, though edited. I do not think they edited for shock or smear but for space. In the context of the entire article, I meant that it is harder to detect and it has some serious ramifications if followed consistently (i.e., Tom Wells' view of moral law). I address this in my reveiw of "NCT" by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel.

Pastor Michael said...

FWIW before the door closes on this thread, I think the terms “practical antinomianism” and “doctrinal antinomianism” are particularly unhelpful. While a distinction needs to made, doctrine always determines practice, or to say it another way, what you believe will always determine what you do. The “doctrinal antinomianism” of men like Sibbes, Owen (if it’s fair to include them here) and Reisinger obviously did not lead them to licentiousness. Perhaps “technical antinomianism” might better describe their viewpoints, or maybe as Terry and others have suggested, the term antinomian has lost its usefulness and needs to be replaced entirely. But with what?

DJP said...

Sorry, it's off the front-page. Door's closed.