A Question I Was Asked:

What About Antinomianism?

I want to thank you for 'An Evangelical Inclusivist Defends Evangelical Inclusivism.' I avoided the article for a long time because I knew it would be long but finally set aside an hour, plucked up courage and read it. Wow, now that is incredible! Also it is not difficult to read at all, especially if you know your Bible. Today I am elated, delighted, walking on air. It has answered all my questions and doubts. My grandfather accepted a savage type of Calvinism and it affected him for years, just sorry he did not live to read your article.

Now my question:

Paul wrote,
Why not say - as some slanderously claim that we say - "Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is just! (Romans 3:8).

My question is: who were these people and what were they teaching? Could this be 'antinomianism'?

UK Apologetics Reply:

First of all, thanks for those comments about my Inclusivism article.

Okay, let's be sure that we understand this. 'Antinomianism' (a dreadful word but it just means 'anti-law') was a theological movement which rejected all law. I think we can see where it might come from, after all, most Protestants now say that we are no longer under the law, that the redemption which is in Christ releases us from legal obligations. Is this not clearly taught in Scripture, especially in Galatians and Romans?

Well, yes, in a sense it is, but it is probably more correct to say that we now stand under 'the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21). This new law is never stated in so many specific points within the New Testament, neither would we expect it to be, yet it should be written across the hearts of every true Christian believer. The law of Christ, then, is to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. We should recall the teaching in Mark 12:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12: 28-34).

"To love God with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." In this, Jesus and the scribe agreed that those two commands are the core of the entire Old Testament Law. All of the Old Testament Law can be placed in the categories of either "loving God," or "loving your neighbour." The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) sums up all the principles involved in this grand spiritual law.

So Christians are now to obey the law of Christ. Far better than trying to remember the over 600 individual commandments of Old Testament Law! So Christians should simply focus on loving God and loving others. If Christians would truly and wholeheartedly obey those two commands, we would be fulfilling everything that God requires of us. The Holy Spirit should actually constantly be leading us in this direction, though we all have strengths and weaknesses, of course, and will most certainly stumble at times. Without question, we will vary in our abilty to do this but this should be our life direction.

So - in Romans 3:8 - was Paul referring to an accusation - coming from some - that some Christians now rejected all law, that a 'cheap grace' responsibility-dodging doctrine was maybe a 'flavour of the month' among some? It is impossible to be sure, but possibly this went even further if some were indeed claiming, 'let us do evil that good may come.' This could be pure antinomianism (a doctrine of sheer lawlessness, not even recognising the law of Christ) or something else.

So a true Christian is not actually antinomianist - that is, with a lawless attitude - whilst he or she will be aware that the age of old covenant law has now certainly passed, yet such people should willingly acknowledge standing under a far greater law, The Law of Christ. However, it is certainly true that the true Christian should recognise that the law does not, and never could, save us. We are saved by grace through faith. See Ephesians 2:8-10. The old law was only as a schoolmaster leading one to Christ. See Galatians 3:23-29.

Robin A. Brace. May 23rd, 2015.