Saturday, July 19, 2008

Antinomianism, A Calvinist Expectation

Antinomianism, while being more than a mouthful of syllables, is a state of philosophy I seem to encounter among the Calvinist bloggers and discussion sites. While John Fletcher penned an extensive discourse against the antinomian tendencies of Calvinist philosophy, the topic is not much discussed in our discourse with Calvinist brethren. It is one of those topics similar to the Calvinist insinuation of God authoring sin that brings out an astonishing denial. Let's look at a passage in scripture that recently brought this to light.

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1Th 5:16-22 AV)

This passage came up during a discussion about whether or not we can frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of others. The faithful are entreated to avoid several things one of them being to not extinguish the work of the Holy Spirit, to not quench the Spirit. Now ironically this suggestion was offered by a Calvinist who then posited the idea that we cannot frustrate or extinguish the work of God. Further it was suggested that in agreeing with the scriptures directly, we would present ourselves as lessening the LORD to a tiny God with ourselves able to stop his omnipotence. It is an absurd suggestion yet it was the defense offered after he insisted that quench does not mean to extinguish or put out, stifle or subdue. Yet Paul expressly stated "Quench not the Spirit" and the term used in scripture is sbennumi meaning specifically to not extinguish, stifle or suppress. There is a purpose to this apparent madness in attempting to redefine terms and it is to promote the philosophy of a continuous struggle against the LORD. In the Calvinist mind, Christians have no victory over sin, that the struggle with flesh is a Christian expectation and as such desired of the LORD. We are to continuously fail in Christ. Contrast that with the admonitions of the Apostles to be holy as the LORD is Holy, to be instructed in the ways of holiness and cautioned against allowing the flesh to rear up in our lives. By surrendering themselves to the expectations of flesh, the Calvinist becomes a slave to his view of sin being the norm in his walk. He becomes what he denies, antinomian in mind and deed explained away as a normative struggle over which he is not expected victory.

John Fletcher's work is often forgotten in this modern age but it would be wise of us to freshen ourselves against this philosophy of antinomianism that is nothing short of an enemy within the church. It robs the believer of his faith in Christ and produces a dead church content with worldliness and fatalistic expectation and the church deserves better than such a poor lead.

John Fletcher's An Equal Check To Pharisaism And Antinomianism