Heidelcast 71: Nomism And Antinomianism (10)

We’ve come to the 3rd part of the Marrow, “Of the law of Christ.” This is a phrase that occurs frequently in this discussion. Neither the antinomian nor the neonomian are satisfied with the law of Christ the way it is. The antinomian redefines it so that it’s not really a law. He talks about the “law of Christ” but when you ask him what is it, he can’t really tell you. It’s very vague. How can it be a law if we don’t know what it is; if we can’t say what it is For his part, the nomist doesn’t want the law of Christ of  to be what it is because he’s not satisfied with the law as the rule for the Christian life. He wants the law to be the way of acceptance with God for sinners. He wants to build in obedience to the law, cooperation with grace, working out our salvation in fear and trembling not as a consequence of having been justified and saved once for all, nor as the fruit and evidence of justification and salvation. No, he wants the obedience to the law to be either part of the ground of our acceptance with God or part of the instrument through which we are saved or both. The third part of the Marrow is very helpful here for both the antinomian and the nomist.

Here’s the episode:

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  1. Anglican J I Packer is rightly intolerant of antinomianism: “With regard to sanctification, there have been mystical antinomians who have affirmed that the indwelling Christ is the personal subject who obeys the law in our identity once we invoke his help in obedience situations, and there have been pneumatic antinomians who have affirmed that the Holy Spirit within us directly prompts us to discern and do the will of God, without our needing to look to the law to either prescribe or monitor our performance.

    Packer: The common ground is that those who live in Christ are wholly separated from every aspect of the pedagogy of the law. The freedom with which Christ has set us free, and the entire source of our ongoing peace and assurance, are based upon our knowledge that what Christ, as we say, enables us to do he actually does in us for himself. So now we live, not by being forgiven our constant shortcomings, but by being out of the law’s bailiwick altogether; not by imitating Christ, the archetypal practitioner of holy obedience to God’s law, but by … our knowledge that Christ himself actually does in us all that his and our Father wants us to do.”

    Packer is certainly right to criticize the “hyper-grace” movement which either denies or is ignorant of Christ’s satisfaction of the law for the elect. But in a day when those who teach penal satisfaction by Christ’s death for the elect alone are known not as “five point” Calvinists but as “scholastics” living in the past, we need to say that not all ideas denounced as “hyper” are really antinomian. Instead of throwing all accusations of antinomianism together in one convenient “package”, we need to look at the identifying descriptions one by one, to see which are accurate and which are not.

    Certainly the distinction between law and gospel is not inherently “antinomian”, because the Bible itself tells us that “law is not of faith”.

  2. Wilfried Joest :—-The end of the law for faith does not mean the denial of a Christian ethic…. Luther knows a commandment that gives concrete instruction and an obedience of faith that is consistent with the freedom of faith…. This commandment, however, is no longer the that which must be fulfilled], but rather comes to us as that which has already been fulfilled. It does not speak to salvation-less people saying: ‘You must, in order that…’ It speaks to those who have been given the salvation-gift and say, “You may, because…

    • Q. 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?

      A. By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

      Q. 88. Of how many parts does the true conversion of man consist?

      A. Of two parts; of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man.

      Q. 89. What is the mortification of the old man?

      A. It is a sincere sorrow of heart, that we have provoked God by our sins; and more and more to hate and flee from them.

      Q. 90. What is the quickening of the new man?

      A. It is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, and with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.

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