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Antinomianism (a term coined by Martin Luther#Anti-Antinomianism|Martin Luther, from the Greek language|Greek ἀντί, "against" + νόμος, "law") is a belief or tendency in most religions that some therein consider existing laws as no longer applicable to themselves.[1] The term originated in the context of a minority Protestant view that since Faith in Christianity|faith itself alone is sufficient to attain salvation, adherence to religious law is not necessary,[2] and religious laws themselves are set aside or Abrogation of Old Covenant laws|"abrogated" as inessential. While the concept is related to the foundational Protestant belief of Sola Fide where Justification (theology)|justification is through faith alone in Christ, it is taken to an extreme. It is seen by some as the opposite of the notion that obedience to a code of religious law earns salvation: legalism (theology)|legalism or New Perspective on Paul#Works of the Law|works righteousness. An antinomian theology does not necessarily imply the embrace of Permissive society|ethical permissiveness; rather it usually implies emphasis on the inner working of the Holy Spirit as the Christian ethics|primary source of ethical guidance.[3]

While there is wide agreement within Christianity that "antinomianism" is heresy, what constitutes antinomianism is often in disagreement. The term "antinomian" emerged soon after the Protestant Reformation (c.1517) and has historically been used mainly as a pejorative against Christian thinkers or sects who carried their belief in justification by faith further than was customary.[3] For example, Martin Luther preached justification by faith alone, but was also an outspoken critic of antinomianism, perhaps most notably in his Against the Antinomians (1539). Few groups or sects, outside of Christian anarchism or Jewish anarchism, explicitly call themselves "antinomian".

While the term originated in early controversies of Protestant doctrine, and has its roots in debates over the Synoptic Gospels and the Pauline Epistles and the issue of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism and the Biblical Greek terms anomia and anomos which are generally translated lawlessness and lawless respectively, it can be extended to any religious group believing they are not bound to obey the laws of their own religious tradition.[4]

Antinomian Controversy in Christianity

Antinomianism has been a point of doctrinal contention in the History of Christianity, especially in Protestantism. Given the Protestant belief of Sola fide|justification through faith alone; most Protestant Christians consider themselves saved even without conformity to the many commandments of the Mosaic Law as a whole. However, those teachings known vaguely as the moral law are retained in almost all sects of Christianity, see Biblical law in Christianity for details. Deciding which laws of the Old Testament are important to retain and which can be ignored is somewhat subjective (see also Cafeteria Christianity). Christian sects and theologians who feel that they are freed from more laws than is customary are often called "antinomian" by their critics and sects and theologians who feel that more than the customary laws apply are in turn called "Judaizers" by their critics. Theological charges of antinomianism typically imply that the opponent's doctrine leads to various sorts of licentiousness, and imply that the antinomian chooses his theology in order to further a career of dissipation. However, the conspicuous austerity of life among many sects accused of antinomianism (such as Anabaptists or Calvinists) suggests that these accusations are often, or even mostly, made for rhetorical effect. Accusations of antinomianism have also been used more loosely to criticize doctrines that erode the authority of the church, or to criticize teachings perceived as hostile to government and rule of law|civic law.

In Gnosticism

Fathers of Christian Gnosticism|Early Gnostic sects were accused of failure to follow the Mosaic Law in language that suggests the modern term "antinomian". Some Gnostic sects did not accept parts of the Old Testament moral law. For example, the Manichaeism|Manichaeans held that their spiritual being was unaffected by the action of matter and regarded Mortal sin|carnal sins as being, at worst, forms of bodily disease. Marcionism, though technically not gnostic, rejected the Hebrew Bible in its entirety. Such deviations from the moral law were criticized by Proto-orthodox Christianity|proto-orthodox rivals of the Gnostics, who ascribed various aberrant and licentious acts to them. A biblical example of such criticism can be found in Revelation 2:6–15, which criticizes the Nicolaitanes, an early Gnostic sect.

Antinomian Controversies in Lutheranism

The term "antinomianism" was coined by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation|Reformation, to criticize extreme interpretations of the new Lutheran Christian soteriology|soteriology.[5] The Lutheran Church benefited from early antinomian controversies by becoming more exact in distinguishing between Law and Gospel and Justification (theology)|justification and sanctification. Martin Luther developed 258 theses during his six antinomian disputations, which continue to provide doctrinal guidance to Lutherans today.[5]

First Antinomian Controversy

As early as 1525, Johannes Agricola, in his commentary on Luke, advanced his idea that the law was a futile attempt of God to work the restoration of mankind. He maintained that while non-Christians were still held to the Mosaic law, Christians were entirely free from it, being under the gospel alone. He viewed sin as a malady or impurity rather than an offense rendering the sinner guilty and Damnable#Religious|damnable before God. Instead, the sinner was the subject of God's pity rather than of his wrath. To Agricola, the purpose of repentance was to abstain from evil rather than the contrition of a guilty Conscience#Christianity|conscience. The law had no role in repentance, which came about after one came to faith and was caused by the knowledge of the love of God alone.[5]

In contrast, Philipp Melanchthon urged that Repentance#Protestant_conceptions|repentance must precede Faith_in_Christianity#Lutheranism|faith, and that knowledge of the moral law is needed to produce repentance. He later wrote in the Augsburg Confession, that repentance had two parts. "One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the Law and Gospel#The Book of Concord|knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of Absolution#Lutheranism|absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors."[6]

Shortly after Melanchthon drew up the 1527 Articles of Visitation in June, Agricola began to be aggressive toward him, but Martin Luther succeeded in smoothing out the difficulty at Torgau in December 1527. However, Agricola did not actually change his ideas, and later on depicted Luther as disagreeing with him. After Agricola moved to Wittenberg, he still maintained that while the law must be used in the courthouse, it must not be used in the church, and that repentance comes from hearing the Good news (Christianity)|good news only and does not precede but rather follows faith. He continued to disseminate this doctrine in books, despite receiving various warnings from Luther.[5]

Luther, with reluctance, at last saw himself constrained to hold Martin_Luther#Anti-Antinomianism|public disputations against antinomianism and its promoters in 1538 and 1539.[7] Agricola apparently yielded, and Luther's book Against the Antinomians (1539)[8] was to serve as Agricola's recantation. This was the first use of the term Antinomian.[9][10] But the conflict flared up again, and Agricola even sued Luther, alleging that Luther had slandered him in his disputations, Against the Antinomians, and in his On the Councils and Churches (1539). But before the case could be brought to trial, Agricola, though he had bound himself to remain at Wittenberg, left the city and moved to Berlin, where he had been offered a position as preacher to the court. After his arrival there he made peace with the Saxons acknowledged his “error,” and gradually conformed his doctrine to that which he had before opposed and assailed, though still employing such terms as gospel and repentance in a different manner.[5]

Second Antinomian Controversy

The antinomian doctrine, however was not eliminated from Lutheranism. Melanchthon and those that agreed with him, called Philippists were checked by the Gnesio-Lutherans in the Second Antinomian Controversy during the Augsburg Interim. The Philippists ascribed to the Gospel alone the ability work repentance to the exclusion of the law. They blurred the distinction between Law and Gospel by considering the Gospel itself to be a moral law. They did not identify Christ's fulfillment of the law with the commandments humans are expected to follow.[5]

As a result of this, antinomianism is dealt with in the last confession of faith of the Book of Concord. The Formula of Concord rejects antinominism in the fifth article, On the Biblical_law_in_Christianity#Lutheran_Church|Law and the Gospel[11] and in the sixth article, On the Third Use of the Law.[12]

Charges against Calvinists

From the latter part of the 17th century, charges of antinomianism were frequently directed against Calvinism|Calvinists, primarily by Arminian Methodists, who subscribed to a Synergism (theology)|synergistic soteriology that contrasted with Calvinism's monergism|monergistic doctrine of justification (theology)|justification. The controversy between Arminian and Calvinistic Methodists produced the notable Arminian critique of Calvinism: John William Fletcher|Fletcher's Five Checks to Antinomianism (1771–75).

Charges against Quakers

Religious Society of Friends|Quakers were charged with antinomianism due to their rejection of a graduate clergy and a clerical administrative structure, as well as their privileging of the Spirit (as revealed by the Inner Light of God within each person) over the Scriptures. They also rejected civil legal authorities and their laws (such as the paying of tithes to the State church and the swearing of oaths) when they were seen as inconsistent with the promptings of the Inner Light of God.

Charges against Jesuits

Blaise Pascal accused the Society of Jesus|Jesuits of antinomianism in his Lettres provinciales, charging that Jesuit casuistry undermined moral principles.

Charges against other groups

Other Protestant groups that have been accused on antinomianism include the Anabaptists and Mennonites. In the history of United States|American Puritanism, Roger Williams (theologian)|Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were accused of antinomian teachings by the Puritan leadership of Massachusetts. The Ranters of 17th century England were one of the most out-right antinomian sects in the History of Christianity. New Covenant Theology has been accused of antinomianism for their belief that the Ten Commandments have been abrogated, but they point out that nine of these ten[13] are renewed under the New Testament|New Covenant's Law of Christ.

Antinomianism in the Old Testament

The Hebrew Bible emphasizes the importance of Israel keeping the 613 Commandments|Mosaic Law, and seems to argue against the doctrine of antinomianism. For example, Daniel 7|Daniel 7:24-25 states as a warning that a certain king who will speak great words against God and wear out the saints will also go so far as to try to change times and laws:

"(24) And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
"(25) And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." - KJV (speaking of the "Little horn" in Daniel 7:8 believed by many Biblical scholars to be Antiochus Epiphanes).

In the Deuterocanon or Biblical apocrypha, the 1 Maccabees|Books of the Maccabees are another example of opposition to not observing the Mosaic Law. The texts describe the Maccabean revolt (165 BCE) against the Hellenization of Judea and argues strongly against erosion of adherence to the Law of Moses in Jewish culture. For example:

"Not long after this the king Antiochus sent an Athenian senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God." - 2 Macc 6:1.


"So they built a Gymnasium (ancient Greece)|gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and epispasm|removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the Mosaic covenant|holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil." - 1 Macc 1:14-15.

Antinomianism in the New Testament

Obligation to follow the Mosaic Law was a point of contention in the Early Christian Church. Many early converts were Greek and thus had less interest in adherence to the Law of Moses than did the earliest Christians, who were Jewish Christians|primarily of Jewish descent and already accustomed to the Law.[14] Thus, as Early centers of Christianity|Christianity spread into new cultures, the early church was pressured to decide which laws were still required of Christians, and which were no longer required under the New Covenant. The New Testament, (especially the book of Acts of the Apostles|Acts, but see also Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles) is interpreted by some as recording the church slowly abandoning the "ritual laws" of Judaism, such as Circumcision in the Bible|circumcision, Biblical Sabbath|Sabbath and kosher law, while remaining in full agreement on adherence to the "divine law", or Jewish laws on morality such as the Ten Commandments#Christianity|Ten Commandments. Thus, the early Christian church incorporated ideas sometimes seen as partially antinomian or parallel to Dual-covenant theology, while still stalwartly upholding the traditional laws of moral behavior.

The first major dispute[15] over Christian antinomianism was a Circumcision controversy in early Christianity|dispute over whether circumcision was required of Christians. This happened at the Council of Jerusalem, which is dated to about 50 AD and recorded in the book of Acts (15:5).

"But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, 'It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses." - NRSV

The apostles and Elder (Christianity)|elders met at Jerusalem in Christianity|Jerusalem, and after a spirited discussion, their conclusion, later called the Apostolic Decree, possibly a List of events in early Christianity|major act of differentiation of the Church from its Jewish roots[16] (the first being the Rejection of Jesus[17]), was recorded in Template:Bibleverse:


Beginning with Augustine of Hippo,[18] many have seen a connection to Noahide Law, while some modern scholars[19] reject the connection to Noahide Law[20] and instead see Lev 17-Leviticus 18|18[21] as the basis.

James here sets out a preliminary list of commands which Gentiles should obey. Gentiles were not required to be circumcised, but were required to obey the four beginning requirements to be part of the larger congregation. This passage shows that the remainder of the commandments would follow as they studied "Moses" in the Synagogues. If Gentiles did not follow this reduced requirement, they risked being put out of the Synagogue and missing out on a Torah education (See Template:Bibleverse and Template:Bibleverse-nb). James's list still includes some dietary commands, but many of those also passed out of some Christian traditions quite early. Template:Bibleverse describes the following vision, which was used to excuse early gentile Christians from the Mosaic dietary laws. Template:Quote

It is interesting to note that Peter was perplexed about the vision in Acts 10, and then his subsequent explanation of the vision in Acts 11 gives no credence to antinomianism as it relates to the inapplicability of the Mosaic dietary laws.

Though the Apostolic Decree is no longer observed by many Christian denominations today, it is still observed in full by the Greek Orthodox.[22]

Pauline passages supporting antinomianism

File:PaulT.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Artist depiction of Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th century (Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston, Texas). Most scholars think Paul actually dictated his letters to a secretary.[23] Template:See also

Paul of Tarsus, in his Pauline Epistles|Letters, claims several times that believers are saved by the Divine grace|unearned grace of God, not Legalism (theology)|by good works, "lest anyone should boast", and placed a priority on orthodoxy (right belief) before orthopraxy (right practice). The soteriology of Paul's statements in this matter has always been a matter of dispute (for example, see Template:Bibleverse); the ancient gnosticism|gnostics Gnosticism and the New Testament|interpreted Paul to be referring to the manner in which embarking on a path to enlightenment ultimately leads to enlightenment, which was their idea of what constituted salvation. In what has become the modern Protestant orthodoxy, however, this is interpreted as a reference to sola fide|justification simply by trusting Christ. See also New Perspective on Paul.

Paul used the term freedom in Christ, for example, Template:Bibleref2, and it is clear that some understood this to mean lawlessness (i.e. not obeying Mosaic Law). For example, in Template:Bibleref2 Paul is accused of "persuading .. people to worship God in ways contrary to the law." In Template:Bibleverse James the Just explained his situation to Paul:


Template:Bibleref2 is sometimes presented as proof of Paul's antinomistic views. For example, the NIV translates these verses: "...he forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." However, the NRSV translates this same verse as: "...he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross." This latter translation makes it sound as though it is a record of trespasses, rather than the Law itself, that was "nailed to the cross." The interpretation partly hinges on the original Greek word Template:Polytonic which according to Strong's G5498[24] literally means "something written by hand" which is variously translated as "written code" or "record", as in a record of debt.

2 Corinthians 3:6-17 says "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (KJV)

Some cite Template:Bibleref2: "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." But this is more about Justification (theology) than antinomianism.

Template:Bibleref2 states twice that believers are not under the law: Romans 6:14 "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." and Romans 6:15 "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.". KJV

Template:Bibleref2 describes the Galatians as "foolish" for relying on being observant to the Law: "(1) O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (2) This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (4) Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. (5) He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" KJV

Template:Bibleref2 says that the purpose of the Law was to lead people to Christ, once people believe in Christ, they are no longer under the Law: "(23) But before faith came, we were kept under the Mosaic law (disambiguation)|law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be Justification (theology)|justified by faith.(25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." KJV

File:Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg|thumb|300px|right|Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (see Template:Bibleverse). Depicted is his famous Sermon on the Mount in which he Expounding of the Law|commented on the Law. Some scholars (see Expounding of the Law#Antithesis of the Law|Antithesis of the Law) consider this to be an Typology (theology)|antitype of the proclamation of the Ten Commandments or Mosaic Covenant by Moses from the Biblical Mount Sinai.

In Template:Bibleref2, Paul compares the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, see also Supersessionism. In this comparison, he equates each covenant with a woman, using the wives of Abraham as examples. The old covenant is equated with the slave woman, Hagar, and the new covenant is equated with the free woman Sarah.(Template:Bibleref2). He concludes this example by saying that we are not children of the slave woman, but children of the free woman. In other words, we are not under the old covenant, we are under the new covenant. "(22) For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. (23) But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (24) Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. (25) For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. (26) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." KJV (Template:Bibleref2)

Template:Bibleref is also sometimes translated: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (KJV) The key word here is telos (see also Strong's G5056).[25] Robert Badenas[26] argues that telos is correctly translated as goal, not end, so that Christ is the goal of the Law. Andy Gaus' version of the New Testament[27] translates this verse as: "Christ is what the law aims at: for every believer to be on the right side of [God's] justice."

Also cited is Template:Bibleref2: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" KJV. Another passage cited is Template:Bibleref2, especially Romans 7:4 "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." and Romans 7:6 "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." KJV

In Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews (Template:Bibleref2), which most scholars don't think was actually written by Paul, it is written that under the Old Testament Law, priests had to be from the tribe of Levi, Aaron and his sons. (See Template:Bibleref2 "Bring his sons and dress them in tunics and put headbands on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance. In this way you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.") It is pointed out that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and thus Jesus could not be a priest under the Old Testament Law, as Jesus is not a descendant of Aaron. It states that the Law had to change for Jesus to be the High Priest: "For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law." (Hebrews 7:12)

It then compares the first covenant (made with Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament) with the new covenant in Template:Bibleref2. In Hebrews 8:6-7: "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." It goes on to say that the problem with the first covenant was with the people who were supposed to keep it, and that in the new covenant: "I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Template:Bibleref2

It is written that the first covenant was obsolete, and would soon disappear: "By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." Template:Bibleref2. It clearly identifies the first covenant which is disappearing in Template:Bibleref2. Of particular note are the "stone tables of the covenant" in Hebrews 9:4, referring directly to the Ten Commandments, which however most Christians believe are still valid. "Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover." (Hebrews 9:1-5)

Pauline passages opposing antinomianism

On the other hand, Paul also wrote or spoke in support of the law, for example: Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleverse-nb and preached about Ten Commandments|Ten Commandment topics such as idolatry: Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleverse-nb.

Theological views

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Judaizers[28] notes: "Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required (Template:Bibleverse). Thus he shortly after the Council of Jerusalem circumcised Timothy (Template:Bibleref2), and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem (Template:Bibleverse-nb sqq.)."

The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Gentile: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah[29] notes the following reconciliation: "Rabbi Emden|R. Emden, in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to "Seder 'Olam,"[30] gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the Seven Laws of Noah|seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law—this explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the Biblical law in Christianity|laws of Moses and the Biblical Sabbath|Sabbath."

The Tübingen school of historians founded by Ferdinand Christian Baur|F. C. Baur holds that in Early Christianity, there was conflict between Pauline Christianity and the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem#Bishops of Jerusalem|Jerusalem Church led by James the Just, Simon Peter, and John the Apostle, the so-called "Jewish Christians" or "Pillars of the Church"[31] although in many places Paul writes that he was an observant Jew, and that Christians should "uphold the Law" (Template:Bibleref2). In Template:Bibleref2, part of the Incident at Antioch,[32] Paul publicly accused Peter of judaize|judaizing. Even so, he does go on to say that sins remain sins, and upholds by several examples the kind of behaviour that the Ecclesia (church)|church should not tolerate (e.g., Template:Bibleref2, Template:Bibleverse). In Template:Bibleverse he cites Expounding of the Law#Divorce|Jesus' teaching on divorce ("not I but the Lord") and does not reject it, but goes on to proclaim Pauline privilege|his own teaching ("I, not the Lord"), an extended counsel regarding a specific situation which some interpret as not in conflict with what the Lord said. However, this may mean he received direct knowledge of what the Lord wanted him to teach through the Holy Ghost (Template:Bibleref2).

Paul versus James

The Epistle of James, in contrast, states that our good works justification (theology)|justify before men, our faith after salvation, and we are to obey the Law of God, that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, that faith without works is dead (Template:Bibleref2). Historically, the presence of this statement has been difficult for Protestants to reconcile with their belief in Sola Fide|justification by faith alone. Martin Luther, believing that his doctrines were refuted by this passage, suggested that the Epistle might be a forgery, and relegated it to an appendix in his Bible (although he later came to accept its canonicity, see also Antilegomena). Though this may be interpreted through the word "justified." It speaks that faith in Jesus Christ is the first step and that faith is justified through good works, he goes on to say that without spreading your love and faith, it is dead. See also Law and Gospel, article on James 2:20,[33] Template:Nkjv, Template:Bibleref2, Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

It should be noted that James also wrote: "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." Template:Bibleref2. One interpretation is that people who want to keep the Old Testament Law must perfectly keep all of the Law—an impossible task that James appeals to his readers to follow the "Royal Law of Love" instead in the preceding verses (James 2:8-9). However, some scholars such as Alister McGrath, purport that James was the leader of a Judaizing party that taught that Gentiles must obey the entire Mosaic Law.[34] See also Circumcision controversy in early Christianity#Jewish background. For the critique of partial observance of the law, see Cafeteria Christianity.

Finally, Paul did make at least one statement that demonstrates agreement with James, that both faith produced as a result of repentance (the initial requirement for justification) and works (the evidence or proof of true faith) must exist together: "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." Acts 26:19-20 (NIV)

Jesus and antinomianism

The List of capital crimes in the bible|Torah prescribes the death penalty for Sabbath breaking|desecrating Sabbath by working (Template:Bibleverse). To avoid any possibility of breaking the 613 mitzvot|Torah commands, the Pharisees formulated strict interpretations and numerous traditions which they treated as laws, see Halakha. According to the Christians, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for this (Template:Bibleref2). The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Jesus[35] notes: "Jesus, however, does not appear to have taken into account the fact that the Halakah was at this period just becoming crystallized, and that much variation existed as to its definite form; the Hillel and Shammai|disputes of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai were occurring about the time of his maturity." In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus's disciples were picking grain for food on Biblical Sabbath|Sabbath (Template:Bibleref2). When the Pharisees challenged Jesus over this, he pointed to Biblical precedent and declared that "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath". Some claim Jesus rejected complete adherence to the Torah. Most scholars hold that Jesus did not reject the law, but directed that it should be obeyed in context. e.g., E. P. Sanders notes, "No substantial conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees with regard to Sabbath, food, and purity laws .... The church took some while to come to the position that the Sabbath need not be kept, and it is hard to think that Jesus explicitly said so."[36] There may be passages where the words of Jesus have been misinterpreted and were not really in contradiction with the Jewish law.[37]

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is sometimes portrayed as referring to people he sees as wicked with the term ergazomenoi tēn anomian (Template:Polytonic) - e.g. Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse. Due to this negative context the term has almost always been translated as evildoers, though it literally means "workers of lawlessness".[38] Lawlessness, in Hebrew, would directly imply Torahlessness. In other words, Matthew appears to present Jesus as equating wickedness with encouraging antinomianism. Scholars view Matthew as having been written by or for a Jewish audience, the so-called Jewish Christians. Several scholars argue that Matthew artificially lessened a claimed rejection of Jewish law so as not to alienate Matthew's intended audience. However, Jesus called for full adherence to the commandments (Template:Bibleref2) He declared: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Mosaic law (disambiguation)|Law or the Neviim|Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Template:Bibleref2). A parallel verse to Template:Bibleref2 is Template:Bibleref2.

See also Expounding of the Law, Great Commission, Hyperdispensationalism

Template:Bibleverse states: "Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness."

Antinomianism in Buddhism

Template:Unreferenced section Among Buddhists there are three main types of 'antinomianism' which may act as a gloss for 'left-handed attainment' (Sanskrit: Vamachara): naturalist/spontaneous antinomianism, ritualist/philosophical antinomianism, and empirical antinomianism.Template:Citation needed There may also be those who subscribe to all or some combination of these three types.

Naturalist antinomians believe that enlightened beings may spontaneously break vinaya|monastic codes of conduct while living out a natural state of enlightenened mind. Another view is that an enlightened mind responds to circumstances based on Śīla|Buddhist morality, rather than the legalism of the monastic codes, and that the "break" is not therefore spontaneous. There are tales of Buddhists who perform acts that appear to be bizarre or immoral, known in English as 'crazy wisdom' (Tibetan: yeshe chölwa).

Ritualist antinomians, such as some Vajrayana|Tantric Buddhists, may practice which seemingly may appear to be breaking the codes of conduct in specific religious rituals designed to teach non-duality or other philosophical concept. (refer Panchamakara; Ganachakra).

Empirical antinomians may break or disregard traditional ethical or moral rules that they believe are unconducive to the individual's contemplative life. They view such codification as having arisen in specific historical-cultural contexts and, as such, not always supportive of Buddhist training. Thus the individual and the community must test and verify which rules promote or hinder Enlightenment (spiritual)|enlightenment. _____________________

Antinomianism in Islam

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In Islam, the law—which applies not only to religion, but also to areas such as politics, banking, and sexuality—is called Sharia|sharīʿah (شريعة), and it is traditionally organized around four primary sources:

  1. the Qur'an|Qurʾān, which is Islam's central religious text;
  2. the sunnah, which refers to actions practised during the time of the prophet Muhammad|Muḥammad, and is often thought to include the Hadith|ḥadīth, or recorded words and deeds of Muḥammad;
  3. Ijma|ijmāʿ, which is the consensus of the Ulema|ʿulamāʾ, or class of Islamic scholars, on points of practice;
  4. Qiyas|qiyās, which—in Sunni Islam|Sunnī Islam—is a kind of Analogy|analogical reasoning conducted by the ʿulamāʾ upon specific laws that have arisen through appeal to the first three sources; in Shi'a Islam|Shīʿah Islam, ʿaql ("reason") is used in place of qiyās

Actions, behaviors, or beliefs that are considered to violate any or all of these four sources—primarily in matters of religion—can be termed "antinomian". Depending on the action, behavior, or belief in question, a number of different List of Islamic terms in Arabic|terms can be used to convey the sense of "antinomian": Shirk (polytheism)|shirk ("association of another being with Allah|God"); Bid'ah|bidʿah ("innovation"); Kafir|kufr ("disbelief"); Haraam|ḥarām ("forbidden"); etc.

As an example, the 10th-century Sufism|Sufi Mysticism|mystic Mansur Al-Hallaj was executed for shirk for, among other things, his statement ana al-Ḥaqq (أنا الحق), meaning "I am the Truth" and, by implication—as al-Ḥaqq ("the Truth") is one of the 99 Names of God|99 names of God in Islamic tradition—"I am God."[39] Another individual who has often been termed antinomian is Ibn Arabi|Ibn al-ʿArabi, a 12th–13th century scholar and mystic whose doctrine of Wahdat-ul-Wujood|waḥdat al-wujūd ("unity of being") has sometimes been interpreted as being Pantheism|pantheistic, and thus shirk.[40]

Apart from individuals, entire groups of Muslims have also been called antinomian. One of these groups is the Ismaili|Ismāʿīlī Shīʿīs, who have always had strong Millenarianism|millenarian tendencies arising partly from persecution directed at them by Sunnīs. Influenced to a certain extent by Gnosticism,[41] the Ismāʿīlīs developed a number of beliefs and practices—such as their belief in the Imamah (Shi'a Ismaili doctrine)|imāmah and an Batiniyya|esoteric exegesis of the Qurʾān—that were different enough from Sunnī orthodoxy for them to be condemned as shirk and, hence, to be seen as antinomian.[42] Certain other groups that evolved out of Shīʿah belief, such as the Alawites[43] and the Bektashis,[44] have also been considered antinomian. The Bektashis, particularly, have many practices that are especially antinomian in the context of Islam, such as the consumption of alcoholic beverage|alcohol, the non-wearing of the Hijab|ḥijāb ("veil") by women, and assembling in gathering places called cemevis rather than in mosques.[45]

The use of the antinomian idea in a secular context

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In his study of late-20th-century western society the historian Eric Hobsbawm[46] stated that there was a new fusion of "demotic and antinomian" characteristics that made the period distinct, and appeared to be likely to extend into the future. He did so without any particular focus on religion. He had started his academic life before World War II and is now and has always been a Marxist, and continued to see an historian's work as identifying causes of change. For him there is now a readiness by the mass of people to have little sense of obligation to obey any set of rules that they consider arbitrary, or even just constraining, whatever its source. This may be facilitated by one or more of several changes. These include: the tendency to live outside settled communities; the growth of enough wealth for most people to have a wide choice of styles of living; and a popularised assumption that individual freedom is an unqualified good.

George Orwell was a frequent user of “antinomian” in a secular (and always approving) sense. In his 1940 essay on Henry Miller, “Inside the Whale”, the word appears several times, including one in which he calls Alfred Edward Housman|A. E. Housman a writer in “a blasphemous, antinomian, ‘cynical’ strain”, meaning defiant of arbitrary societal rules.

See also

Template:Portal Template:Multicol

  • Arminianism
  • Christian Anarchism
  • Christian-Jewish reconciliation
  • Christian liberty
  • Council of Jerusalem
  • Covenant (biblical)
  • Expounding of the Law
  • Free Grace theology
  • Gnosticism
  • Great Commission
  • Heterodoxy


  • Hyperdispensationalism
  • Legalism (theology)
  • Libertine
  • Marcionism
  • Minuth
  • Montanism
  • Biblical law in Christianity
  • Supersessionism
  • Upaya|Upāya-kauśalya
  • Do what thou wilt





  • Badenas, Robert. Christ the End of the Law, Romans 10.4 in Pauline Perspective 1985 ISBN 0-905774-93-0 argues that telos is correctly translated as goal, not end, so that Christ is the goal of the Law, end of the law would be antinomianism.
  • Bar-Asher, Me'ir Mikha'el and Kofsky, Aryeh. The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī Religion: An Enquiry into its Theology and Liturgy. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2002. ISBN 90-04-12552-3.
  • J. H. Blunt Dict. of Doct. and Hist. Theol. (1872)
  • Chittick, William C. The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn Al-Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989. ISBN 0-88706-885-5.
  • Clarence-Smith, W.G. Islam and the Abolition of Slavery. London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2006. ISBN 1-85065-708-4.
  • Daftary, Farhad; ed. Mediaeval Ismaʿili History and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-45140-X.
  • James D. G. Dunn|Dunn, James D.G. Jesus, Paul and the Law 1990 ISBN 0-664-25095-5
  • Encyclopaedia of the Orient. "Isma'ilism". Retrieved 10 October 2006.
  • David Noel Freedman|Freedman, David Noel, editor. (1998). Anchor Bible Series|Anchor Bible Dictionary, article on Antinomianism by Hall, Robert W., ISBN 0-385-19351-3
  • J. C. L. Gieseler, Ch. Hist. (New York ed. 1868, vol. iv.)
  • G. Kawerau, in A. Hauck's Realencyklopadie (1896)
  • Luther, Martin. Only the Decalogue Is Eternal: Martin Luther's Complete Antinomian Theses and Disputations. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9748529-6-6
  • Pratt, Douglas. The Challenge of Islam: Encounters in Interfaith Dialogue. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005. ISBN 0-7546-5122-3.
  • Riess, in I. Goschler's Dict. Encyclop. de la théol. cath. (1858)
  • Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. ISBN 0-8078-1271-4.
  • Weir, Anthony. "Differences Between Bektashism and Islamic Orthodoxy" in The Bektashi Order of Dervishes. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
  • Template:1911
  • Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. The Many-Headed Hydra. Beacon Press, Boston, 2000

External links



This page was taken in its original form from Wikipedia.

  1. [The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 1997]
  2. [Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition 1966]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Encyclopedia Britannica: Antinomianism
  4. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Augustus Lawrence Graebner. “Antinomianism.” Lutheran Cyclopedia. New York: Scribner, 1899. p. 18
  6. Augsburg Confession, Article XII: Of Repentance
  7. An English translation of the text of the theses and disputations against the antinomians is available in M. Luther, Only the Ten Commandments|Decalogue Is Eternal (see references below).
  8. [1]
  9. Antinomianism
  10. New Advent: Antinomianism
  11. See the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, article five, Law and Gospel
  12. See the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, article six, On the Third Use of the Law
  13. The fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8) of the Decalogue is not repeated in the New Testament.
  14. [Fossum, Jarl; Munoa, Phillip. Jesus and the Gospels. Thomson Learning, 2004]
  15. In Acts 6:13-14, Saint Stephen is accused by "false witnesses" of speaking against the law, presumably a minor dispute.
  16. Jewish Encyclopedia: Baptism: "According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to Circumcision in the Bible|circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism (Yeb. 46b, 47b; Ker. 9a; 'Ab. Zarah 57a; Shab. 135a; Yer. Kid. iii. 14, 64d). Circumcision, however, was much more important, and, like baptism, was called a "seal" (Schlatter, "Die Kirche Jerusalems," 1898, p. 70). But as circumcision was discarded by Christianity, and the sacrifices had ceased, Baptism remained the sole condition for initiation into religious life. The next ceremony, adopted shortly after the others, was the imposition of hands, which, it is known, was the usage of the Jews at the ordination of a rabbi. Anointing with oil, which at first also accompanied the act of Baptism, and was analogous to the anointment of priests among the Jews, was not a necessary condition."
  17. McGrath, Alister E., Christianity: An Introduction, Blackwell Publishing,(2006), ISBN 1-4051-0899-1, Page 174: "In effect, they [Jewish Christians] seemed to regard Christianity as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief — that Jesus was the Messiah. Unless males were circumcised, they could not be saved (Template:Bibleverse)."
  18. Contra Faust, 32.13
  19. For example: Joseph Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries), Yale University Press (December 2, 1998), ISBN 0-300-13982-9, chapter V
  20. Template:Bibleverse
  21. Template:Bibleverse
  22. Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Canons of the Apostles|Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by Augustine of Hippo|St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory III|Pope Gregory the Third (731) forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical council|Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuse, like other laws."
  23. Stephen L Harris|Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 316-320. Harris cites Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse. Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point [[[:Template:Bibleverse]]] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (Template:Bibleverse; Template:Bibleverse) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
  24. Strong's G5498
  25. Strong's G5056
  26. Bandas, Robert. Christ the End of the Law, Romans 10.4 in Pauline Perspective, 1985, ISBN 0-905774-93-0
  27. Unvarnished New Testament, 1991, ISBN 0-933999-99-2
  28. Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers
  29. Gentile: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah
  30. Emden, R. "Appendix to "Seder 'Olam," pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752
  31. Catholic Encyclopedia: St. James the Less: "Then we lose sight of James till St. Paul, three years after his conversion (A.D. 37), went up to Jerusalem. ... On the same occasion, the "pillars" of the Church, James, Peter, and John "gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision" (Galatians 2:9)."
  32. Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see section titled: "THE INCIDENT AT ANTIOCH"
  33. James 2:20
  34. McGrath, Alister E., Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1, page 174: "Paul notes the emergence of a Judaizing party in the region — that is, a group within the church which insisted that Gentile believers should obey every aspect of the law of Moses, including the need to be circumcised. According to Paul [reference is made to Galatians, but no specific verse is given], the leading force behind this party was James ... the brother of Jesus ..."
  35. Jewish Encyclopedia: Jesus
  36. E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 1985 SCM Press ISBN 0-334-02091-3, pages 264-9.
  37. Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament: Misunderstood Passages
  38. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature Bauer, Gingrich, Danker; Young's Literal Translation: "ye who are working lawlessness"; New American Standard Bible: "You who practice lawlessness"; NKJV: "you who practice lawlessness"
  39. Pratt 72
  40. Chittick 79
  41. See, for example, "Isma'ilism" at Encyclopaedia of the Orient.
  42. Daftary 47; Clarence-Smith 56
  43. Bar-Asher & Kofsky, 67 ff.
  44. Schimmel 338
  45. Weir "Differences Between Bektashism and Islamic Orthodoxy"
  46. Age of Extremes, 1992