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

Understanding Antinomianism

    The problem is not that most of us are heathens who have never heard the name of Jesus. The problem is not that we are devoid of any influence or profession of Christianity. America is a nation that is full of churches, of deep religious sentimentalities. To show how popular cheap religion is, even now the liberal Democrats are talking about "bringing God back" into the soul of our society! Yes, we have culture-Christianity everywhere, yet never before have so many people been so ignorant of biblical truth and moral righteousness.

Friends, the problem is the dread moral disease of "antinomianism" that spreads like a pall on the face of popular Evangelical Christendom throughout our land today. Now antinomianism exists among us as both principle and practice. As practice, antinomianism is the worldly life-style that attends one that thinks he or she is a friend of God, yet lives in blatant disregard of the biblical teachings of Christianity. In principle, it is a fondness for religious belief systems that are founded on the notion of divine election independent of, and apart from, obedience to divine revelation. At the core of antinomianism lies  humanism, or more precisely, subjectivity--every man doing what is right in his own eyes, every man being a god unto himself, charting his own course, doing his own thing.

The two forms of antinomianism that most concern us here are two distinct, yet very similar ideologies. The first is that popular Calvinistic teaching of personal salvation called "eternal security," or the idea that once a person has professed Christ as Lord and Savior he can never lose his salvation no matter what he does. Coupled with this aspect is the Christian sinning in thought, word, and deed every day mentality. This popular evangelical construction of antinomianism is usually cast in the believer's "state" versus the believer's "standing" paradigm. The "standing" here refers to the believer's unconditional election, or eternal security, which he can never lose, based on the imputation of Christ's personal righteousness to his own account. The "state" refers to the actual moral condition of the believer at any given time, a state in which tacit allowance is too often made for the believer's habitual commission of known sin.

Clearly, friends, the standard must be raised in modern evangelical thinking about sin, if ever there is to be a hope for the rejuvenation of our society through the influences of the Christian church. While much to-do has been made over the idea of "evangelism" in modern times, such emphasis must not be allowed to detract us from asking ourselves the basic question of evangelism to what? Evangelistic efforts that result in filling the land with antinomians will ultimately fail to rescue the world from being a spiritual Babylon. A world evangelized to antinomianism, we repeat, will still remain a Babylon, until individuals find that true redemption from sin, which the Bible really teaches. Then, and only then, will any quantifiable difference in the moral tone of society begin to be felt.

The second form of ideological antinomianism is much more insidious than the first, and we believe has deceived very many in the twentieth century Wesleyan Holiness movement. We identify it under the rubric of "Zionism," or the notion that racial Jews are God's chosen people regardless of whether or not they will have anything to do with Jesus Christ. This is another example of election without obedience theology, the very same kind of antinomian ideology that underlies the Calvinistic approach to personal salvation we have described above.

Think logically with me for a moment about this, if you will. Why do the Jews need Christ at all if they can be God's chosen people already without Him? Can we not see that the binding authority and applicability of the Christian religion is hereby fatally compromised, once it be allowed that one class of people, in this case racial Jews, can inherit the favor of God by their own self-righteousness, that is, by who they are? Surely this subtle "pride of race" mentality can only lead to bigotry and every other ill effect of the carnality of the natural man.

The political implications of this bad theology are likewise very profound. So the modern State of Israel can do no wrong because the Jews are God's chosen people, yeah? Then what can we say about real injustice, love, mercy, grace, or lasting peace, where the cards are all stacked in favor of self-righteousness, and where men willfully blind themselves to the Christian Gospel fact that all mankind stands equally condemned at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ—that no man has any reason to boast, for none are justified on any other grounds than that of the unmerited favor of God's grace in Christ?

What prevents racial Jews from accepting Jesus as their Messiah now? Why, friends, the same stinking pride and personal carnality that prevents every Gentile sinner from embracing the Saviour! And how is some so-called post-second coming "Jewish millennial kingdom" going to alter that? Friends, it's not, for "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

Friends, two-thousand years ago One did rise from the dead! And his name was called Jesus of Nazareth! Hallelujah!

So now what is either the Jews' or the Gentiles' excuse  for not acknowledging this Jesus as Messiah now? What are we waiting for anyway? Something more or other than the resurrection from the very dead?

If Jesus has not yet become the Messiah, then the Jews can be justified in staving Him off in this present age. The logic is quite inescapable, however, that any professing Christian who is willing to justify Jewish rejection and unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah NOW is at the most profound level denying his Christian faith.

Classic dispensational premillennialism, which touts the "postponement" of Jesus' messianic reign and messianic kingdom, as far as the Jews as a nation are concerned, is the perfect setup for, and prelude to, a great ideological apostasy within evangelical Christianity. Darbyism has plunged the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement into the abyss of antinomian (worldly) backsliding on every hand. Now it's time to repudiate that system of ideological antinomianism and get down to the business of knowing the truth.

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