20 Statements Characteristic of Antinomianism
There is only one heresy, and that is Antinomianism. – Rabbi Duncan
The following is taken from the article “Antinomianism” as found in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, edited by Edwin H. Palmer. As a part of the longer article, William Young seeks to provide a definition for antinomianism and then gives twenty ideas which are typical of antinomian thought and practice throughout Christian history.
First, antinomianism can be difficult to define as:
. . . there may be a discrepancy between the avowed profession of a writer and the implications of the fundamental principles of his teaching. A person can develop a system that makes the law null and void and yet deny that he is doing so.
Antinomianism . . . may prove to be more a matter of tendency and motive than a fixed dogmatic position. . .
Young then lists the following 20 statements which are characteristic of antinomianism, but not exhaustively so. There may be more which can be added, but this is a useful list:
- The law is made void by grace. Justification by faith alone renders good works unnecessary.
- Since Good works are unnecessary, obedience to the law is not required of justified persons.
- God sees no sin in the justified, who are no longer bound by the law, and is not displeased with them if they sin.
- God therefore does not chastise justified persons for sin.
- Nor can sin in any way injure the justified.
- Since no duties or obligations are admitted in the gospel, faith and repentance are not commanded.
- The Christian need not repent in order to receive pardon of sin.
- Nor need he mortify sin; Christ has mortified sin for him.
- Nor aught he be distressed in conscience upon backsliding, but he should hold fast to a full assurance of his salvation in the midst of the vilest sins.
- Justifying faith is the assurance that one is already justified.
- The elect are actually justified before they believe, even from all eternity.
- Therefore they were never children of wrath or under condemnation.
- Their sin, as to its very being, was imputed to Christ so as not to be theirs, and His holiness is imputed to them as their only sanctification.
- Sanctification is no evidence of justification, for assurance is the fruit of an immediate revelation that one is an elect person.
- No conviction by the law precedes the sinner’s closing with Christ, inasmuch as Christ is freely offered to sinners as sinners.
- Repentance is produced not by the law, but by the gospel only.
- The secret counsel of God is the rule of man’s conduct.
- God is the author and approver of sin, for sin is the accomplishment of His will.
- Unless the Spirit works holiness in the soul, there is no obligation to be holy or to strive toward that end.
- All externals are useless or indifferent, since the Spirit alone gives life.
The life of a disciple is one of daily denial (Luke 9:23), discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27), self-control (Acts 24:25) and submission to the lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Anyone who persists in diminishing the importance of any of God’s commands will find himself outside the kingdom (Matthew 5:19) which is why the New Testament writers constantly exhorted their readers to be blameless people of God (Philippians 1:10, 2:15; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Peter 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Revelation 14:5) and to maintain their righteousness until the end (Titus 3:8, 14; James 2:1; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 12:17). Any alteration of the commands of God or even a change of emphasis will eventually destroy the Gospel and make the faith that was once given to the saints a false gospel of antinomianism. In the words of Peter:
Therefore, brothers,be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:10-11