Why is Antinomianism so rampant in broad evangelicism

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Blue Tick, Aug 4, 2009.

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  1. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman

    Absolutely! Well said that man. Many of the posts on this thread give me the impression that people's working definition is synonymity with sin itself. At the bottom of this page there's a useful list of different types of antinomianism from Packer, which should also give some indication of what type of error produces each one.

    As for me, my antinomianism tends towards a mix of Spirit-centred and Situationist.
  2. DanMcCormack

    DanMcCormack Puritan Board Freshman

    While I agree a definition would help reduce thread creep, the OP asked a question, which strayed a bit from a mere catalog of antinomian errors:

  3. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    'A tree is know by its fruit...'

    Where there is the rotten fruit of antinomianism the tree it falls from is likewise dead at its core.
  4. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman

    Well if you look at Packer's categories of Antinomianism, you can derive the causes easily enough. Missing out Dualistic as not relevant today(?), let's list them and their causes:

    Spirit-Centered Antinomianism - cause: An overemphasis on 1Jn 2:27 (But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything,) and Jer 31:33 (But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts).

    Christ-Centered Antinomianism - cause: Christ's obedience is imputed to us and our obedience adds nothing, so the law is irrelevant.

    Dispensational Antinomianism - cause: Some flavour of dispensationalism confusing people

    Dialectical Antinomianism - cause: a low view of the bible

    Situationist Antinomianism - cause: a slightly less low view of the bible combined with the idea that the law has been fulfilled and its more accurate and flexible antecedent (in God's mind) has been put directly into our hearts.

    I think the OP was poorly served by his choice of example. When I see the word "antinomianism" without clarification I would think "licentiousness", which doesn't fit someone doing their best to obey God but making of a mistake of interpretation due to ignorance.

    The answer, then, to the OP is unsurprising - "it's because they don't agree with you in your interpretation of the bible". The ways of disagreement (as above) are varied and still lead to some kind of antinomianism. Sometimes disagreement over interpretation of the bible is the work of the devil in unregenerates and sometimes it's genuine difficulty in the face of a high degree of complexity.
  5. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Broad evangelicalism is strongly influenced by revivalist traditions, including the rise of dispensationalism in the last century. A quick look at the 80 million copies of the Left Behind books is a reality check for anyone who believes that the American public has a taste for any eschatology other than dispensational premillennialism.

    While there are some Calvinistically leaning dispensationalists (e.g., S. Lewis Johnson), it would be fair to say that most dispensational adherents hold to traditions that incline toward an antinomian understanding of "grace." For example, the book by the same title by Lewis S. Chafer was a staple for generations of seminarians at Dallas Seminary. And, while there are different strands of the dispensational tradition (cf. Masters vs. Dallas), it would also be true that the Lordship controversy of the 80s was centered in the teaching of Dallas trained men in a way that would not be true of any other tradition. Indeed, Ryrie, Hodges, et. al. were virtually identified with Dallas seminary through their long teaching careers and provided much of the intellectual horsepower for the view that has been castigated for separating "Jesus as savior" from "Jesus as Lord."
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  6. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    they do?
  7. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    Thank you Pastor Joe for this post.
  8. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Unfortunately, I don't think most within the dispensational arena know the ten commandments; and their teaching is often so shallow as to have no clue as to the heart issue inherent in them and their relationship to the teaching of Christ. But this relationship isn't inherent in dispensationalism so much as it is inherent in man. Dennis shows how this relationship exists quite well. This is why the historical and theological blame on dispensationalism is silly. The dynamic obviously exists within dispensationalism, especially among proponents of easy believism. But dispensationalism does not have a monopoly on this, nor is it a cause.
    Our own houses are filthy enough without blaming our neighbors for that filth. And both legalism and antinomianism existed long before dispensationalism. In face, it existed in covenantal churches before dispensationalism came into its own.
    My point is, this is the result of man's fallen condition and his desire to be his own master. It's not because of a system. Such thinking puts the cart before the horse and really fails to deal with the root issue. It's a shallow treatment of the problem that too easily leads to casting stones rather than self-examination; something the reformed community is all too skilled at doing.

    May we remove our planks, clean our own homes and pursue faithfulness first so that we are better equipped and have a better understanding in order to lovingly remove the spec that blinds our neighbors.
  9. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor


    I'll abide by your decision.
  10. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Okay, the question then becomes, why does antinomianism take form X over against form Y? Is it just random?

  11. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Either way, the principle is the same. Whether we're adding to or taking away from the Gospel, both represent an incomplete Gospel.
  12. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman


    I fear you risk using the word in a way in which only you would understand it. A word which means literally "against law" describing people who are overenthusiastic about the law? To use a potentially culturally obtuse analogy, that would be like describing Australians as anti-cricket.

    [explanation for the culturally disadvantaged: Australians are crazy crazy about cricket but they play it in a way in which we English consider to be, proverbially, "not cricket". e.g. they heckle the batsmen and celebrate too much at victory]
  13. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    I know I'm not Josh (I'm not that handsome), but I think what Josh is getting at is that both those who cast off the law, and those that create their own law are against the law. The Pharisees were accused of being antinomians by Jesus, for example, in Mark 7 and Matthew 15, for refusing to obey the 5th Commandment, and for substituting their own legalisms.

  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    :up: This is, after all, Paul's point in the letter to the Galatians. It's also Christ's point in the Sermon on the Mount as He destroys Rabbinical fences around the Law (...you have heard it said...) and then goes on to explain the full weight of the Law (...but I say to you....)

    It would appear, on the surface, that the Judaizers or the Pharisees are for the Law but the Law only brings a curse. Those that are truly know the Law are only those that realize that the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith to faith, by "...the just shall live by faith." The legalist sees no need for Christ's perfect obedience to the Law because they don't see the perfection of the Law. The libertine antinomian fails to see that Christ put Sin as power to death on the Cross so that those in Him are bondslaves to righteousness and are no longer enslaved to walk in Sin's power.

    Ironically, the "don't smoke, don't drink, don't chew, and don't date women that do" mentality and the "Ten Commandments are in the OT" mentality are often in the same crowd.
  15. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman

    I think this is about the word we use rather than the meat of the matter, which is not to say that it isn't important, of course. Can you point to any instance in history of a legalist being criticised as "antinomian"? I can understand saying, "You know, even legalists are antinomian, in a way", to make a point in a fresh way, but to broaden the meaning of the word so far that no-one can avoid being antinomian, to some degree, must surely lessen its usefulness and do a disservice to the serious disputes which have used the word ever since Luther.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    The above is an "instance in history" where it has occurred.

    I've heard a number of Reformed teachers point this out and I'm not sure why it would make one uptight. It's not like antinomian is common street lingo. It may be that "evangelical" is used and abused but antimonian? If you said that to most people they'd say "Wha...?"

    In fact, the problem today is that the word "legalist" is used so much today that it actually bears some explanation. In other words, after one finishes explaing antinomian to a novice crowd and teaching them about the libertine sense of the Gospel, it is useful to point out that even legalists are antinomian in a sense.

    That is to say, that if you asked your run of the mill Evangelical: "Were the Pharisees legalists?" they would answer: "Of course they were." Following up, many would probably point out that what they mean by it is that the Pharisees were concerned about the Law and Jesus was concerned about loving people.

    There is such rampant confusion out there that the least of a person's problems is using the word antinomian in a qualified sense to describe a person who is a legalist since the latter term is often used by people that don't understand Law or Gospel.
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