Antinomianism

At American Thinker there is a thought provoking piece on antinomianism:

Antinomianism: The Soft Heresy
By Daniel Ciofani

[…]

Here is the definition:
an•ti•no•mi•an•ism (noun)
1. Theology; The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.
2. The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal.
In case you are wondering, Antinomianism is a Christian heresy. This gentle and soft heresy is popular for many reasons. First, it’s very old. The original Antinomians were Gnostics. They believed that Christianity was a secretive and privileged message that only the learned understood. They were the climate-changers of their day. The Gnostics held those who just didn’t get it in contempt. With that secret knowledge, you could do whatever you wanted in this life, because the material world was ultimately unimportant. Antinomianism made a return during the Reformation, and Luther had to formally put the heresy in its place. Sure, the Just shall live by Faith. Sure, good works don’t get the job done. However; Faith and bad works means all bets are off. Even the Council of Trent made a case for its specific heresy. All Christians get to clearly understand this one: antinomianism is an equal opportunity Salvation destroyer.
Today Antinomianism is alive and well in all churches. We have all met many Antinomians. They are the Christians comfortable with bankrupting the country and confiscating others’ property. They are Christians who somehow believe that Salvation has a quota based on skin color. They are the pro-choice Catholics, and the Anglicans who encourage the homosexual clergy. They include the Lutherans who pray long and hard for their church to finally move from Sola Scriptura to Some-a-Scriptura. They are even the Evangelicals who actively await the destructive end, while not even voting to prevent it. They are Saved, so they do whatever they want, even if it’s deadly. All of these Christians use their gift of Faith as an escape valve for their own irresponsible moral, religious, and Biblical decisions and public policy.
And so the next time you attend church, (assuming you still can stomach attending since November 6th) ask your spiritual leader if he or she is an Antinomian. Most will say that they’ll have to get back to you on this one, while they go and look it up. When they do respond, they’ll contend, of course not! You’ll then have to ask them to describe one religious law of the faithful, defended strongly by your church in secular society. If your spiritual leader has no response, then you have met another Antinomian. No matter how the conversation goes, it is common practice for all religious leaders to suggest, for the sake of the Church, that you pray on it. In the meantime, for the sake of the Church, the Devil too, will be preying on it.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Antinomianism

  1. Well now, this epidemic illness has been diagnosed and named long ago. The cure isn’t named here, but I’m afraid it has something to do with an act of the Will and the Intellect. Drat.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Now, not much stirs up my spirit like hearing one of these ilk quote St. Augustine on “Love and do what you will.” Sadly, the “They are Saved, so they do whatever they want, even if it’s deadly,” group do not get it that St. Augustine referred to the stage of holiness after one has been purged from sins of all sort, has infused knowledge and grace, and works for God and His Church totally out of love. Of course, complete orthodoxy would be in place at that stage, as a person who loves Christ and His Church would have “put on the mind of Christ.”

    I think the most common heresies in the Church are the denial of Original Sin ( upset grandparents are bad at this one as I have discovered) and grace, which is Pelagianism and Universal Salvation, much talked about on line lately.

    Interesting post, Fr. Z.

  3. StWinefride says:

    A true authentic Roman Catholic is faithful to both the Gospel message of love and the Law. Favouring neither the one nor the other.

    To love is to obey. To obey is to love.

    In the evening of life, we shall be judged on love alone” St John of the Cross

  4. Imrahil says:

    Well…

    not being able to name one religious law of the faithful, defended strongly by your church in secular society is not being antinomian.

    Reasons:
    1. While there can be particularly religious laws — I always understand that as “of positive revelation without being comprised in natural law” — , it is thinkable that one of that sort does not exist (except perhaps the Sunday). This opinion has been held by orthodox people (Fr Johannes Messner), and has something for it (though for reasons not of importance it is not mine); at any rate the burden of these sort of laws and their importance for not committing grave sins (except, again, the Sunday) and for upholding society, are very much limited.

    Right to life? Natural law. Human dignity? Natural law. 6th commandment? Natural law. Not serving false gods? Natural law.

    2. It is certainly possible that the Church is weak in doing what her mission is to do; that may make you a sinner, but it does not make you a heretic.

    Dear @Supertradmum,

    although I do not dispute your reading of St. Augustine (if was after all he who brought the, true in a sense and partially helpful, but also not totally rid of possible problematic readings, distinction of “love of God to the point of contempt of self” and “love of self to the point of contempt of God” into the world) — apart from that “Love and do what you will” can be defended.

    Only it must be both “love” in the real sense, and “will” in the real sense.

    Love does not do what is bad; and love does neither refuse to learn what is bad in the more complex issues which are perhaps not quickly decided by first instinct; love most of all does not blatantly put aside a commandment it hears from one in authority.

    (Well, I read the Neverending Story by Michael Ende in my youth… so I’m biased.)

  5. anilwang says:

    Most antinomialists in my experience fall into two categories of belief:

    (1) Deism: God (if he exists) is really doesn’t care what happens. Whatever happens after death (if anything), happens regardless of what you do.

    (2) Universalism: God is love, so no matter what you do in this life, God’s love will win….even if things like purgatory or reincarnation or you walk quadrillion kilometers to get to Heaven (as the nobel Russian atheist in the Devil’s story in Brother’s Karamazov).

    To Deism, I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that without prayer (both of the deist and oneself), there’s little hope of getting someone out of deism.

    To the Universalist, there’s an easy answer. Antinomialism tries to answer the question “what’s the least you have to do and the most you get away with”. If you truly love someone, that is the worst question one can ask. If you asked your fiance any of the following, you won’t be married: “What’s the most I can get away with? Let’s talk about faithfulness. Can I ….?” or “How much to I actually have to pay attention to you and still be married to you? Can I go off on my own without saying anything for 1 day? 1 week? 1 decade?”.

    If God is Love, he doesn’t just want the minimum, he wants it all and will not rest until you are perfected. If you truly love God, you will not give him everything less than all, to the best of your ability and ask God for the grace to give more. And if you don’t love God, God’s love will be hell.

  6. acricketchirps says:

    What happened on November 6th that rendered folk unable to stomach attending church?

  7. acricketchirps says: What happened on November 6th that rendered folk unable to stomach attending church?

    The re-election of Barack Obama.

  8. fvhale says:

    Cardinal Burke mentioned antinomianism twice in his August address to the Canon Law Society of Kenya. He had something to say about antinomianism in today’s Roman Catholic Church.


    The State of Canon Law in the Church
    After I began my studies of Canon Law in September of 1980, I soon learned how much the Church’s discipline was disdained by her priests, in general…“I thought that the Church had done away with that,”….reflected a general attitude in the Church toward her canonical discipline, an attitude inspired by the hermeneutic of discontinuity….Institutes of the Church’s law, which, in her wisdom, she had developed down the Christian centuries, were set aside without consideration of their organic relationship to the life of the Church or of the chaos which would necessarily result from their neglect or abandonment.
    The “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” which has tried to highjack the renewal mandated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, is marked by a pervasively antinomian culture ….The discipline in place was not followed because it was not known and, in fact, was presumed not to exist.

    Specific Form of the New Evangelization through Canonical Discipline
    …the knowledge of and respect for canonical discipline is indispensable to the Church’s response to the call to a new evangelization. There are many aspects of the form of the new evangelization through canonical discipline. I address four as examples.
    The first aspect is respect for the rule of law as the irreplaceable foundation for right relationships and coherent activities within the Church. In specific, we must confront the antinomian tendency of the culture, which is inimical to the organic unity which is inherent to the Body of Christ. A general ignorance of canon law, which sees it as some esoteric and surpassed aspect of Church life, must be overcome. At the same time, the false conflict between canon law and the pastoral nature of the Church, between truth and love, must be addressed.
    Secondly, key to the form of the new evangelization through canonical discipline is the study of the sources of canonical institutes in the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition…..Finally, liturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred realities in the Church…
    (Source: Zenit, English, 30 Aug 2012)

  9. The Cobbler says:

    “Antinomianism made a return during the Reformation, and Luther had to formally put the heresy in its place.”
    Maybe his exact idea of antinomianism is different from mine, but this sounds a lot like talking of Marx’s reactionary condemnation of Soviet Russia.

    “Universalism: God is love, so no matter what you do in this life, God’s love will win….”
    “To the Universalist, there’s an easy answer. Antinomialism tries to answer the question “what’s the least you have to do and the most you get away with”. If you truly love someone, that is the worst question one can ask.”
    A valid answer, but not the one I would give — I would reply to the idea that no matter what God’s love will win with “Duh, but what kind of lover would He be if He forced you to love, whether immediately or over ages in eternity? Either way it’s what’s commonly called rape.”