We are all antinomians now (except the babies) (part V of V)

10 Jan

NOTE: Sorry this was not posted on Friday as promised (I am not a Promise Keeper I am afraid)…

In previous posts (see parts I, II, III, IV) I have been arguing that the Church must find a way to preach the grace of God while it also attempts to judge those within the church – so that there would not be a hint of immorality, impurity, or greed within it.

Yes, life is complicated.  Yes there are gray areas.  Yes, since we are not Christ, there are situations in where we must choose between the “lesser of the two evils”, where one sin need be chosen over another (no room for casuistry – loopholes in God’s Law – here).  And yet – must we not face the fact that the Church has lost its nerve?  Although God’s Law is the only consistent moral framework that exists which enables us to grow in our relationships with God and one another – albeit only when empowered by and freed by the Gospel of grace – have we not come to doubt just this?  Are we not antinomians all?   Must we not repent?  Eagerly take the planks out of your own eye and do the work of disciplining the flock?  If so, no doubt, parishioners may not like this at first, but when they see that pastors are not only eager to stick with them – and to be corrected themselves – perhaps the saltiness that we need may be restored.  How would it become salty again?  Only through Jesus Christ – Who embodies the Law and Gospel of the Most High God, and renews saltiness where and when He pleases.

I do not know what Philip Yancey would say to me, but I imagine he might think that my time would be better spent “getting on with the task of creating a just society” (204).  Would my time not be best spent aiming to do this, instead of [perhaps] nit-picking my brothers in the church?

I can only respond that I want to be truly eager to make a difference in the lives of the individuals that God throws in my path – and maybe even do some concrete planning and initiatives to help others (read this if you doubt me).  And yet, when I first became a dad, I admit I had a new sense of calling: of all the things I could be doing in the world to share Christ, here was one responsibility I was certain about: I was this boy’s father, and was to provide for his every needs (particularly spiritual but otherwise as well).  Multiply that 4 boys over, and my wife and I often feel like we’ve got our hands full.  Paul says that Christians, unlike pagans, are to take care of their own families and relatives – and I think that after my own family’s needs I best be concerned with those of my immediate spiritual family as well (he does speak of loving all men, but starting with the Church) – though also here I have failed miserably to be the brother I ought to be to them.

I begin this series talking about my re-reading Philip Yancey’s challenging book “What’s so Amazing About Grace?“.  Interestingly, even as the focus of his book is about the Church dispensing grace, the following line sticks out to me as significant: “The Apostle Paul had much to say about the immorality of individual church members but little to say about the immorality of Rome…” (235, 236)  Sometimes, contra a man who Yancey quotes favorably in his book, we cannot “trust” persons without “judging them” (171) – at least, not in ways they might desire us to.  Yancey’s book speaks winsomely and powerfully about grace, but I leave you with these parts because, of course, because our knowledge of God’s grace is directly proportional to our knowledge of God’s Law.  Yancey does quote J. Gresham Machem: “A low view of law leads to legalism in religion ; a high view makes one a seeker after grace” (210).

I know, I know – despite all my attempts to capture joy, grace and be thoughtfully nuanced – I no doubt still sound like a self-righteous legalist to many (to my own ears also!).  And yes – in case you are wondering – I am not a pastor and have no pastoral experience.  Is it true that I am mired in an unrepentant legalism?  Or am I right that we are all frogs, being boiled slowly – that we are all [becoming] antinomians now?  Please help me see where I am going off the rails…

Yet must I not be bold?  Should I not imitate Paul (as he urges me to) as Paul imitates Christ?  How can I not?  How can we not?  How can we do otherwise?  Please tell me…

May we act in godly wisdom in these matters.

Read more about antinomianism.


Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “We are all antinomians now (except the babies) (part V of V)

  1. caesartheologus

    January 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I know this is very late, but I, too, have been struggling with how to apply the Law/Gospel distinction in how I interact with fellow brothers in Christ. I think my biggest problem is this: how does one tow the line between “concerned for my fellow Christian and his witness in the world” and “being a busybody”? How much Law can Christians apply to each other, and how much of it should we leave to the pastors? I’m not going to say that I’ve got answers, but I’d love a discussion on the subject.

  2. infanttheology

    January 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm


    It is a good discussion – even though I think a very difficult one too… and I am not sure I have time to talk much right now.

    In all of this too we realize that we are to imitate God’s forbearance…. if you’d like to start things off, go for it. I can’t promise I will be able to respond quickly though. It may be a week at a time or more before I get back to posts…

    Blessings in Christ,


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