Thursday, January 15, 2009

Antinomianism - Comments (3)

Today I will start on the types of antinomianism that the author describes from the book, Concise Theology by J.I Packer.  But first I must say that the word antinomianism is not found in the bible.  It is a label that theologians have conveniently tagged on to anyone who does not believe that he has to obey the Law set out in the Old Testament.  

J.I Packer distinguished 6 types of antinomianism based on the different reasons or rationale why one believes that he does not have to obey the Law.  I believe that the Law is no longer applicable to us in the New Covenant and I will explain why later (from there you will know which category my church and I fall under).

A. Dualistic Antinomianism

Firstly, he says, there is dualistic antinomianism. What is dualistic antinomianism? It is based on the Greek idea that man is body and man is spirit, but man's body, being matter, is evil. Salvation is salvation of the soul. There is not going to be any resurrection of the body, because the body is evil. Therefore it does not matter what you do with your body and you may sin to your heart's content. Go ahead! You are saved anyway. This idea is based on the dualistic thinking of the Greeks.

This concept of separation of body and spirit is a wrong reason for not obeying the Law.  Salvation is meant for the whole man, not just the soul because man is made in the image of God - just as God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit in ONE God, man is body, soul and spirit in ONE man.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)

26Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

 27 So God created human beings in his own image.
      In the image of God he created them;
      male and female he created them.

Take note that in v26, even though God is ONE person, He said, "Let us make ..." implying his triunity.

The apostle John in 1 John 1 admonished those people using this duality concept to claim that they have no sin, telling them that they are only fooling themselves and not living in the truth (v8) i.e. they are not really Christians at all.  That's why in v9 John told them to acknowledge they have sin and ask for forgiveness from God who is faithful and just to forgive.  Many Christians have wrongly used 1 John 1:9 to apply to themselves (I have previously discussed this in detail, see here).

B. Spirit-centred Antinomianism

Secondly, Dr. Packer speaks about Spirit-centered antinomianism. This type of antinomianism believes: "What matters is not what the Scripture tells me. I am a spiritual person, filled with the Holy Spirit. I am above the law of the Scripture. I am led by the Spirit, and the Spirit overrules the Scripture. The Spirit can even contradict the Scripture. I am a spiritual Christian, and I am led by the Spirit. I do what the Spirit tells me, and don't worry about the Holy Scriptures."

This was probably what the man in 1 Corinthians 5 said because the Corinthian church took pride in being charismatic, and some charismatic Christians go astray in this fashion. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Holy Scriptures, and the Spirit leads us into truth. The Holy Spirit will never contradict the Scripture. In fact, he enables us to understand and obey the Scripture. So true spirituality leads us to obey the law of God, not defy it.

I totally agree with the author that Holy Spirit is the author of the scriptures and the Spirit leads us into truth.  I also agree that the Holy Spirit will never contradict the scriptures, and He enables us to understand and obey the scripture.

You see this in Luke 4 which describes Jesus' temptation by the devil in the desert:

1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

Luke 4:3-13 shows that Jesus resisted each of the devil's temptation with scripture. However, I disagree that the Holy Spirit leads us to obey the law of God.  The Holy Spirit will teach us all things and remind us of what Jesus said.

John 14:16-17, 25-26 (NLT)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[e] who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

What did Jesus say about the Law? In Matthew 7:12, Jesus says, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."

In Matthew 22:37-40,  37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In Mark 12:29-31, 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Notice that the key word in what Jesus said about the law is LOVE.  This is not about doing things listed down in the law, it is ALL about the HEART - i.e. LOVE.  If you have the love, the deeds will naturally manifest.  However, deeds do not necessarily manifest love:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

The Holy Spirit leads us to LOVE, and our love leads us to do.


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