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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Summer Edition 1999

A Prime Example Of Practical Antinomianism

   "Antinomianism" (from "anti-" [meaning "against"] and "nomian" [meaning "law") can be most accurately defined as simple "lawless-ness."

    Antinomianism, or lawlessness, in religion is the idea that being a Christian frees one from the moral law. It is seen today in the widespread forsaking of Bible standards of holy living in favor of a "do-it-yourself" approach to Christianity in which nothing is clearly right or wrong and there are few if any absolutes.

    Antinomians (that is people who subscribe to lawlessness in religion) generally tend to view God's standard of holy living as "legalism"; their constant refrain has been heard in the claim that the church simply cannot afford to "legislate morality."

    But, friends, is all this hullabaloo concerning legalism--this coy euphemism about not being able to legislate morality--really true?

    Consider the evidence. God certainly HAS legislated morality in His Word (witness the Ten Commandments), and so does all responsible civic institutions in the land. The company you or I work for, for example, may hold to a specific "code of ethics" that will have to be followed if we wish to keep our jobs. This, to some extent, is "legislating morality," is it not?

    Human government does it all the time. Human governments legislate morality all the time. And if human governments derive from divine authority, as Romans 13:1-2 clearly teaches, then it is evident that God has no problem at all with what the Antinomians prejudicially castigate with evil connotation,  as "legislating morality."

    Now if human government with divine sanction legislates morality all the time, why is it then, friends, that only in the Christian church today are we being told that it is something quite evil to require folks to "line up," as it were, to God's  moral law code if they wish to be a part  of the community of faith?

   Reality is that from the 1950's onward an army of "antinomian" teachers arose in the Holiness movement (as well as across the broad American evangelical spectrum generally) persuading folks that it was somehow unsightly "legalism" to obey God and maintain a Bible standard of holiness in dress. The subtle arguments of these false teachers was directed against a stifling uniformity in dress to creativity of individual expression. Women in modest attire of long dress and unshorn hair (as the Bible clearly teaches in Deuteronomy 22:5; and I Corinthians 11:5-10) were belittled as "copycat-look-alikes" all bound up in a system of outmoded legalism.

    Now my honest question is this: why aren't these same teachers berating "copycat look-alike-ism" now to their denominational young people all "conformed to the world" in the ungodly crotch-exposing unisex blue jean mentality that they all so cravenly follow? Why aren't these same teachers still decrying the evils of "stifling uniformity" now, as they did when the Church was following the teaching of the Bible concerning its standard of adornment in the yesteryear?

    Now that the Devil has won out over culture where are these erstwhile antinomian teachers now? 

    Dear friends, their voice has become strangely silent. It has become the stillness of death. Now many of these same teachers feel quite cozy in their positions of gainful ecclesiastical  leadership "presiding over the apostasy," as we say, that they so energetically helped to generate a few brief years ago.

    Here is our  paradigm of understanding on this whole phenomenon of the mainstream of the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement "going worldly, "compromising," or "forsaking the standards of Bible holiness" in modern times:

    From the 1920's onward the seeds of ideological antinomianism were sown in our midst by the false teachers of Darbyism, or the dispensational premillennial theory of end-time Bible prophecy interpretation. That seed took root and germinated. As a result by the 1950's the Holiness movement was fast loosing its distinctively "Wesleyan" theology. Then in the 1960's and 70's the Bible standards of holiness were prejudicially (mistakenly) thrown out the window under the auspices of an equation with "legalism" as a result of the prior ideological shift and collapse. Now the backslidden American evangelical fundamentalist church-world, in terms of the Bible's authority concerning the issue of morality in dress, is afraid to stand for much of anything.  The best these antinomian worldly-compromisers can hope for now is to put their stamp of approval, socially and culturally speaking, on whatever the world opinion-makers deem to allow.

    How did the Church of the true and living God ever get to be this willy-nilly?

    Maybe we have failed to recognize the carnal nature--a sinful nature that hated heart holiness--was in the drivers seat in these antinomian teachers of our past that had been on the Devil's side all along! Like it was in Old Testament times "the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously" among us and the modern Wesleyan Holiness move-ment is "very lean" (Isaiah 21:2; 24:16).

    May God help us now to shed this example of practical antinomianism (i. e., the forsaking of the Bible standards of dress) and return to the old paths of righteousness and true holiness.  This is only possible if once again we as individuals have an ideological "conversion" to New Testament Christianity.

    What we mean by an ideological conversion to New Testament Christianity is simply this: Modern American evangelical church-e-anity is not the same thing as New Testament Christianity, friend, not at all!  Modern popular American evangelical church-e-anity is rather as backslidden in antinomian apostasy as the medieval church-world of Europe was at the dawn of the Protestant Reformation era half a millennium ago. When we stop comparing ourselves among ourselves and start comparing ourselves with the New Testament, as the early Protestant Reformers did, then folks begin to see the difference.

    Happy day when the majority in the  contemporary Wesleyan Holiness movement begin to  discovered this reality: dispensational premillennial ideology is "a substitute for holiness; or antinomianism revived," and, we all went into antinomian apostasy over the false teachings of the Darbyites that we had so naively imbibed in our not-so-distant past. We sowed, and then we reaped. By the same token of logic a new sowing is now required to effect a different kind of harvest.

    By that sowing we mean a reformation. And the watchword of the reformation now, as then, is this: "Come out of her, and be ye separate! Babylon is about to fall!"

    John Wesley put the reforming truth this way: "flee from the wrath to come"!

   
Yet how can you or I flee from the wrath to come when we are so comfortable with this present sinful world?--when we look and act so much like the world that the world can tell no difference between themselves and us?

    Now does this explain much of the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement's struggle with irrelevance, or what?

    Antinomian teachers taught us that we had to lower or forsake the Bible standards of holiness in order to somehow be more "relevant" and to "reach" the world for Christ. Not everyone fell for this Satanic ploy, however, for God always has a remnant in every age.

    The folks who refused to take the broad road of antinomian apostasy that the mainstream Wesleyan Holiness movement started down in the 1950's and 60's were known as the "come-outers," or what is now loosely called today the Conservative Holiness Movement.  It was the desire of these folks to maintain the true Bible standard of holiness in dress  in a day when the religious masses were going into apostasy. Sadly, however, many of them, too, did not (and still do not!) realize that their dispensational premillennial system of salvation history/end-time Bible prophecy fables was (is) much of the problem.

    The theory of dispensational premillennialism is antinomian ideology that causes antinomian apostasy in Christian churches. That heresy, friends, is mainly what destroyed the once great Church of the Nazarene and most of the other Wesleyan Holiness groups that are now in the main as worldly and backslidden from Scriptural Christianity as all get out. Nor did this condition of going into apostasy over dispensational ideology affect only the Holiness movement. It has been a cancer in the much larger evangelical community of our nation in the past twentieth century as well. The whole evangelical fundamentalist movement in America today has been railroaded into the ditch of antinomian apostasy by the prevalence of the dispensational theory among it.  Only a relative few have had the courage to stand up and oppose this heresy, much like "Athanasus against the world" in the time of the triumph of the Arianism in the Church sixteen hundred years ago.

    Let it be said in all fairness that many great scholars of the modern evangelical tradition have opposed the dispensational premillennial heresy, but their voice is little heard. Their books are generally not the popular items on the bookshelves of most so-called "evangelical Christian bookstores" in the land today. Instead their books are rather somewhat hard to find. They are out there, but you have to look for them in the right places.

    Friends, there has been a subtle prejudicial campaign waged by the Darbyite religious opinion molders and holders of our society to discredit or marginalize anyone who opposes their popular end-time theory. Nevertheless, for those with interest and desire to know the truth the works of many great evangelical scholars who oppose dispensationalism remain as guideposts in the storm of conflict and confusion that engulfs the deceived masses of our superficial and shallow religious day. Earnest souls can still find help if they want it. God has not left Himself without a witness in this evil day of unbelief. The truth is there to be had. All that is needed is that we  be incited to move off our "settled lees," as the Old Testament prophets said (Jer. 48:11; Zeph. 1:12), and go for it.

    Now  is the time to dig and deal. Now is the time to "buy the extra oil," as it were, to pay the price, to seek, to knock, to ask. It is not the time to sit passively by on our spiritual "bums," so to speak, waiting to be secretly raptured out of the midst, or to be in nervous anxiety over the failure of the false theory of the "Left Behind" conundrum to materialize.

    We are too radical, you say?

    We are not radical enough dear friends!--rather we as a movement have lost our prophetic voice. After all we all profess to follow a Man who died upon a Cross to do away with men's carnality! That was radical--far more radical than you or I can ever comprehend!

    Friends, Christianity by its inherent nature is radical. If it's not radical, it's not Christianity!

    Think about it.  Then do what God shows you to do.

    Let that something be radical. Maybe even like changing your wardrobe to reflect the life of a real Christian for example. 

    Amen, and God bless.

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