Heidelcast 17: Legalism and Antinomianism

An HB Classic

What’s the difference between legalism and antinomianism? The latter is the denial of the abiding validity of God’s moral law for the life of the believer. The church has been afflicted with antinomianism throughout its history. All the Gnostics of the 2nd century drew an absolute line between Abraham, Moses, David et al and the New Covenant. They taught that the “Old Testament” god was a demiurge (a sort of semi-deity). The law, because it was articulated under Moses, had no bearing in the New Covenant. They had a pagan doctrine of creation. They did not realize that the law was not first given under Moses, that it was first given in creation by God. They didn’t see the goodness of the law because they didn’t see the goodness of creation or the Mosaic law as a re-articulation of the law given in creation. There were antinomians in the middle ages, e.g., the Cathars/Albigensians, and there were antinomians in the 16th century. The latter were thoroughly repudiated by Luther and the rest of the magisterial Reformers.

Legalism in justification is the doctrine that we are capable of keeping the law in order to be justified and that we must do so. Inasmuch as the medieval church adopted the notion that, in a state of grace, we have the power freely to cooperate with grace, she effectively taught a legalistic doctrine of justification through grace and works. The Anabaptists rejected the Protestant doctrine of free acceptance with God through faith alone. Legalism persisted into the 17th century. Richard Baxter taught justification through sanctification about the same time his opposites, the English antinomians, were denying the validity of the moral law for the believer (the tertius usus legis, the third use of the law). Today we are beset by both errors. This episode of the Heidelcast opens the mail and tackles this issue.

3 comments

  1. On the article on Antinomianism.

    Consider what is the Etymological root source of the word Antinomian. It’s a Hebraic term used by Jesus Christ in the Epistles as a heinous sin. (Matthew. 7:23) “I never knew you; depart from me you that work‚ (Greek Strong # 458) ANTINOMIAN.”

    Let us peel off the theological bark and shine the spot light on this dogma to learn the bare truth of what Antinomianism is in the Greek Epistles (Strong # 458 Antanomia) what it really means. Greek Strong # 458 Antanomia i.e. Anomia, meaning Antinomian i.e. Antinomianism. As Jesus and others spoke about Antinomianism again occurs 16 times in the Epistles all as a public rebuke of sinful wickedness.

    Just look at one verse (Matthew. 7: 21-23) Who are those that find themselves expelled by Jesus.? ? ? Who are these people? ? ? The Antinomians being talked about here that call Jesus “Lord” and even do good works in His name. These are church Antinomians involved in church activities. They expect to inherit eternal salvation, nevertheless find themselves expelled by Jesus from salvation.

    The word Anomia, in Greek one can use a singular “A” prefix letter to abbreviate for “no,” “not,” “without” and “ANTI.” “A” prefix letter attached to a Greek word gives the word a negative meaning, same as “A” prefix letter attached to English words as Amoral, Atheist, etc. The disposition exhibit in the meaning of this word is that those who consider themselves as antinomian are against IE anarchists of God’s Law, Scripture Law is the (Greek Strong’s # 3551 NOMOS.) Antinomianism is antithetical to God’s scripture sovereignty.

    (Lev. 4:2) express this reprimanded sin as “Against the Commandments of Yahweh.” or Anti-commandments. The Torah (Hebrew Strong’s # 8451) meaning scripture Law, is interchangeable with the (Greek Strong’s # 3551 NOMOS) and the Greek NOMOS, is the word used by the translators of the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word Torah. As used in (Hosea. 8:1) “They transgressed My covenant and transgressed against My law.” As Hosea express, Against Yahweh Covenant and Torah, is coined by the word Antinomian.

    “Antinomian” has been alternative form of expression for over two millennia meaning against the scripture Lawgiver and His Law. It’s from the term in the Epistles {Greek Strong # 458 Antanomia i.e. Anomia.} (Heb. 1:9) “Love righteousness and hate (G Strong # 458) ANTINOMIAN.”

  2. On this article on Antinomianism.

    The etymological development of the term Antinomian is the antonym to the Greek word Nomos [Strong’s Greek # 355] meaning Law, which in the Septuagint Greek Bible is appropriate for the Hebrew term Torah [Strong’s # H8451,] signifying God’s scriptural laws. Its Hebrew equivalent in the OT writings is the word Torah. The word Antinomian is translated Against Law, or lawlessness in the NT. This term in the NT is often used in ecclesiastical literature to indicate a context of heresy, apostasy, sacrilege, heretical doctrine or heretic and Martin Luther also called Antinomians “false brethren” – in short, one who is lawless, or against the God’s Law. The use of the word Lawless (Antinomian) or (Anomos) in the NT specifically indicates iniquity, transgressor, sinful, one who lives apart from the God’s Law.
    [A book that provided an extensive list of these reference books on this subject matter and reach the same agreement that the word Antinomianism derived from Anomian definition, it is appropriately name “ANTINOMIANISM.” By Mark Jones.]

    Being against the God’s Law or Lawless can mean different things to differ people in a theological context. The best focus is to discover its original meaning and the clearest biblical understanding. No biblical writing can be divorced from a Hebraic understanding. The Christian writings define all scripture as God-breathed and useful for correction, etc., which includes the complete OT writings. In referring to Law, the NT understanding was that of the Hebrew writers and majority audience of the first century.

    Some Christian interpretation of the word Antinomian lawless is that it indicates a breach of morality generally…a breach of a “moral law.” But a serious search of the word God’s Law/Torah in the OT provides clear proof that there was a specific Law being referred to, namely the Instruction given to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. In every way, the OT refers to this Law as eternal, good, easy, accessible, and life-giving. The setting of the NT gospels was the Jewish world in which there was no other understanding of this term. It was a corporate document between God and Israel national constitution and also a personal moral law for every individual.

    Any interpretation of the term Nomos [Strong’s Greek # 355] meaning Law, in the NT must be informed by its context in the first century Jewish world and its writers. Any conclusions drawn outside of this context are not exegesis, (the original understanding in the context of the original writers and audience), but eisegesis, (applying a later culture’s understanding outside of its original context). Removing our biblical approach away from the writings’ original meaning and context alters our understanding away from the authenticity of scriptural authority and creates a foreigner belief structure. The clarity of scripture is important as our sole guide, for the Bible teaches not to add to or subtract from any word of God’s Instruction (insert reference) a command which specifically refers to God’s Law. Any creed that purports to add to or subtract from the veracity of the consistent biblical instruction is in violation of the scriptures.
    [Recommended reading on this subject matter is the book “Restoring Abrahamic Faith” by Professor James D. Tabor. And “YHWH exists” by Jodel Onstott.]

    The idea of a moral code apart from an understandable written scriptural Instruction / Torah / God’s Law is not biblical. The terms of the Law and its specifics frame God’s definition of what morality is to Him, not to any other authority. Within it, He names the rights guaranteed to those who enter into its terms. Rights, such as things we have come to think of as inalienable rights today, are defined clearly in the Law of God so there is no room for abrogation or their dismissal. The scriptural inalienable rights of freedom of chose, equality, the right to bear arms. equal justice, freedom from oppression, freedom of expression, listen to God’s instructions on creating a limited government system. limited taxation, the inalienable right to your own land, the creed to resist tyranny. The God’s Law guarantees its participants their rights. To have no Law other than one that is not clearly defined is to allow for morality to be defined individually by each person according to only their understanding. In this way, it embraces the original rebellion of the evil generation that was destroyed in the Flood in Noah’s day because of opting to do “what was right in their own eyes.” To not define Law in the terms He already gave is to take away our own rights guaranteed by Him and His clear instruction of how to morally be in right standing.
    [Recommended viewing on this subject matter is the DVD film “The Isaiah 9: 10 Judgment.”]

    Clearly stated in the text is that His Instruction is not a perverse moral code that cannot be participated in by flawed mortals, but is required to be a relationship issuing from the heart…His and ours…joined with instruction in the path of His morality. (insert verses about with all your heart mind and soul, about their not being too difficult, what is right and what is good). His law is never to be abused but is to be understood in the twin expression of What is Right and What is Good.

    Humans recognize the necessity for national laws. Without them, societies would descend into chaos and anarchy and be preyed upon by tyrants. The hearts of the citizens have to preserve a desire to have an upright society, or the laws will be changed over time because heart and action are divided from each other. The rule of law is central to the protection of a population from injustice and being manipulated by the unscrupulous. But the hearts of the people have to value law and its intent, or it will eventually reflect the compromises and not preserve its original intent and function.

    God states that his Law is eternal. The terms are eternal, and hearts that joined with His intention of a protective relationship and a People who reflect His priorities are the center of His Law. The beauty of God’s Law is its function as a national covenant and an individual one. It is the framework of a relationship and a lifestyle of people participating with God in this agreement. It frames protective and ennobling parameters rather than being misunderstood to be a monolith of legalistic dictates. Explore what scripture says about itself first, before applying external interpretations.
    [Recommended reading on this subject matter is a 12 page narrative on the web name “Anti Judaism” by distinguish author David Hulme. On http://www.centuryone.com]

    Jack

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