*Peter C. Coker and R.J. Rushdoony
Antinomianism is the idea and principle that the moral law of God is not applicable, nor obligatory under the gospel of grace. Instead of continuity and harmony between God’s old and new covenants, it sees incompatibility, antagonism and conflict. As a result, the typical antinomian church is a body that has surrendered God’s sovereignty to the state by supplanting God’s law-word with natural law. That is, it has supplanted man’s laws for God’s laws. Historically, this began to be accomplished, in part, under the influence of pietism. Pietism is the “experiential and experimental approach to Christian life that emphasizes an emotional appropriation of faith and holiness as being more important than adhering to church doctrine and church order.”
Pietism was originally the church’s religious societal retreat from the conflict between the supernatural (Godly) man, and the natural (ungodly) man. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the philosophical challenges of enlightenment thinkers. However, pietism’s influence on the church inadvertently reduced the importance of God’s declared sovereignty, authority, and law-word to all of mankind, to being merely a “private matter” or a personal “religious experience.” This had been, in fact, one of the overall goals and pursuits of enlightenment thought in the Enlightenment Era.
The Reformation had declared, in essence, that true biblical faith believed in God’s predestination, that is, God’s sovereign choice. But, with enlightenment thought, sovereign choice was transferred to mankind and then ultimately to the state. That transfer meant that man and the state would now determine what is good or evil, instead of God and His Holy Law-Word. Thus, when natural law and order become determinative, it then followed that supernatural law and order became the enemy of the natural or statist man. This was a return to mankind’s original sin in the Garden of Eden, that is; determining for oneself what is good and what is evil, apart from and instead of God. (see Gen.3:5)
This sovereignty shift is ultimately a false one, much like a magician’s slight-of-hand. It does not reflect transcendent reality, God’s reality. In God’s reality, God is ultimately sovereign over all. Regarding God’s declaration, the natural man and the antinomian church are actually living a veiled or fictional life; in that they do not praise, honor, and worship God’s revealed transcendent reality — that is, His revealed and declared sovereignty. The pietistic antinomian church may have done this unwittingly, and may even deny it, but the result is it continues living a partially fictional or dualistic life.
For the most part, the “natural” or humanist man also lives a fictional or dualistic life as well. The humanist living in the Western World of the Western Tradition lives in a Christianized world. If the humanist is to be more thoroughly honest, then the truly natural human being would be more completely anti-Christian, morally and ethically. Then, the natural man would at least agree with the early anarchists in declaring; “if nature is normative and man is naturally good, then the state is an obstruction to a free, happy, and prosperous social order.” Unfortunately, antinomian Christians by default find themselves to be in the same moral and ethical grounds as secular humanists in rejecting God’s sovereignty and law. This is most often reflected in their worldview and cultural outlook.
By giving natural man a moral nature the anarchists were even less honest than the Marquis de Sade or Friedrich Nietzsche, who advocated complete abandonment from God or from any Judeo-Christian influence or order. For de Sade, every crime or criminal act is valid because it occurs in nature. For Nietzsche, mankind must awaken to the fact that God is dead and that we must live beyond good and evil. To these men, any Judeo-Christian moral, ethic, or law is heresy and evil because it is against man’s natural state.
Both de Sade’s and Nietzsche’s streams of thought logically lead to the idea that absolute freedom is the only moral absolute and thus promoted the existential idea that “anything goes.” This same idea is also expressed in works such as Franklin E. Kameny’s “The World and I,” which sees American culture as falsely guided by “so-called” Judeo-Christian religious precepts. Kameny believes America’s Christian heritage “cripples and binds” our culture, and that all such standards should be abolished. As a homosexual activist, Kameny also sees the “Family” as an obstacle to true freedom and naturally calls for deconstructing (destroying) the traditional family.
Most of the churches in America, especially those rooted in Arminianism, have returned to the inactions of the enlightenment era’s pietistic churches. They have returned to the ideas of natural theology, to Gnostic heresies, and to pietistic fears of not challenging culture about biblical morals and the ways of Christ. To make matters worse, the most impotent churches are becoming seeker-sensitive and positive confessing. They now fear saying anything biblical that might offend or make someone uncomfortable; don’t mention sin, don’t mention repentance, and above all – don’t mention lawlessness or God’s Law. In fact, many of these churches don’t believe many of the things Jesus taught and warned believers to be wary of.
Many clergy and laymen have now created a new narrative, a new jesus, and a new righteousness that is not in total harmony with God’s comprehensive law-word. They have borrowed the destructive language and tools of academic humanism and false religions, applied them to the Scriptures, and recreated a mythical anti-Christian narrative that pretends to be Christian.
Much like a Walt Whitman fiction – or the Da Vinci Code – the new narratives are works of fiction, pretending to be true. In an un-annointed effort to be generationally relevant, much of the church is becoming even more irrelevant and impotent to its surrounding culture. It has disarmed its congregations by focusing mostly on the inner man and a personal “jesus” experience. When churches begin to practice similar philosophies, logic, and magical-thinking as pagan humanists, they become as idol worshippers and God says of these kinds, “They worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Some claim to be following Jesus words only, but as it turns-out; they follow only the words of Jesus that they like, not a challenging comprehensive faith that extends to all facets of life and thought.
In contemporary Christianity, it is becoming increasingly true that many Churches and individual Christians believe more in following The Humanist Manifesto (1933) than the Ten Commandments and God’s law-word. Since the publication of the humanist manifesto (a self described anti-Christian document), American culture has religiously embraced its tenants. They have put their faith and hope in man’s words and ways, instead of putting their faith in God’s faithfulness. As such, they display a fear of their fellow man, more than a fear of the true and living God. They have bought into the philosophies and traditions of men – rejecting the ways of God as being out of step with modern society, or not keeping-up with the times.
God’s laws have again fallen out-of-favor for much of the church. God’s laws are no longer relevant to “super-spiritual” and “ostensible” believers alike. As the Psalmist has said; “It is time Lord for thee to work for they have made void thy law.”(Ps. 119:126) Yes, it is time…time again to restore our faith in God’s faithfulness. Presuppose God.
*There’s an asterisk by the author of this article because I’m not sure who wrote it. It’s one of those articles that’s been lying around in my computer for some time and apparently never got finished. It seems I neglected to keep proper notes (or maybe these are the notes) so, I’m not really sure of the authorship. As a guess, it looks as though I wrote much of the article – but probably borrowed heavily from R.J. Rushdoony, as he wrote often about antinomianism in the church.