Posted By Thomas Perez. July 17, 2011 at 2:50pm. Copyright 2011.
There seems to be an underlying misplaced attitude against the very heart of the Gospel today. However the anti-Gospelites have been around for centuries, creating distrust, lies, craft, & deceit. With this deceit cometh new and curious doctrines, all in the name of “Enlightenment” and a new fond hatred against the very Holy precious Blood of our Saviour; Jesus Christ. With this new self awareness (indeed it is of the “self”) creeping into the Body of believers, I’ am led to conduct a series of several studies on the matter. The matter pertaining to a denial of Jesus’ death as a propitiation offering for humanity, a basic fundamental doctrine of the Church – Body of Christ. Moreover than the Church, it is a basic fundamental doctrine of the Scripture’s. I will cover ancient writings, sects, history, the gnostic writings while comparing it with the Canon (the Scriptures). Let us begin by briefly covering the topic of “Aninomianism.”
1. Antinomianism (Greek “Anti” Against, Nomos, Law).
A tendency or blatant lifestyle in all religions. It is in reference to those who believe to regard themselves as so possessed of grace/salvation/enlightenment, etc., that existing laws are no longer applicable. It may also apply to an attitude which regards the keeping of rules and laws as an impediment on the way to freedom/release/salvation, etc., because it produces a legalistic understanding of actions and rewards.
One might also give this description of Antinomianism: “against the law,” was a centuries-old heresy whose basic tenet held that Christians were not bound by traditional moral law, particularly that of the Old Testament. Instead, man could be guided by an inner light that would reveal the proper forms of conduct. This rhetoric is echoed within the camps of many who call themselves Universalists.
Through I may be a believer in the doctrine of Ultimate Reconciliation, I do not uphold to the many strange roads one would often find themselves & many Uni’s traveling upon. It should be pointed out that Universalism and Ultimate Reconciliation are two entirely different matters (For more information on such please feel free to read my studies concerning ultimate reconciliation). It has been my experience to notice that many within the camps of Universalism are indeed inheriting the doctrine of Antinomianism.
Antinomianism lawlessness is salvation made easy. The sales pitch is this, that you lose nothing while you are on your way to heaven. You can be lawless and go to heaven. Now you may have heard of legalism. Legalism is the opposite of antinomianism. Legalism says that salvation is based on human good works apart from faith and apart from grace. Jesus condemned this view of the Pharisees. Paul condemned this view of the Judaizers, especially in the books of Galatians and Romans. But antinomianism says salvation is based on faith in God and therefore obedience to God’s law is not necessary at any stage in a Christian’s life. So these are two opposite ideas, legalism and antinomianism, which are totally opposed to the teaching of the Bible.
Antinomianism is not new. Throughout history you find antinomians who passionately violated the law of God. Some even worshiped the devil. Such people were called by various names, like Cainites and Satanites. They literally gloried in their sin. Martin Luther first used this expression, antinomianism, to refer to the views of his friend, Johannes Agricola, in the sixteenth century. Agricola taught that the moral law of God was in no way binding upon those who are justified by faith alone. So Johannes Agricola said Christians are entirely free from the moral law of God.
Of course, the New Testament anticipated this error, and dealt with it in several places. The New Testament teaching is that a Christian is freed from the law as a way of salvation, and in this sense a Christian is not under the law. Certainly that is true. No man can keep the whole law in order to be saved, because man is a sinner and so is incapable of keeping the law. However, the moral law of God continues to be our guide to holy conduct. A Christian is justified by grace through faith alone. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who enables him now to obey the law of God. This keeping of the law of God by a Christian is the evidence that he is justified and saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Now there are several scriptures we should look at that deal with this error called antinomianism, or lawlessness. Jude 4 says “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” So you see that in the New Testament itself this heresy was manifested.
James also deals with this heresy in James 2, beginning with verse 14: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Notice the claim . Any man can claim, I am saved, I am justified. You see that again in 1 John several times. People were making this claim that they were saved, that they were Christians, that they were justified. But James says, “Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” In other words, the faith of the antinomians, faith without good works, is the faith of the demons.
Look at Galatians 5. In Galatians St. Paul argues for our Christian freedom, and yet he makes this point in the thirteenth verse of Galatians 5: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” You see, people were saying, “We are free! We agree with you, St. Paul, that we are not under law, we are under grace. We are justified by grace through faith alone, and therefore we ought to have no dealings with the moral law of God. The moral law of God is not our guide to holy conduct. In fact, we probably must demonstrate that we are orthodox, that we believe in salvation by grace through faith, by violating God’s law. Then we will truly pride ourselves on being people who are saved by grace through faith!” Do you see how ridiculous a justification of Antinomianism can sound?
In 1 Corinthians 5 you notice there was a man living an incestuous life. He was living with his father’s wife but the church was not dealing with this person because the church was probably influenced by this heretical idea that if you are saved by grace through faith alone, then it doesn’t matter what you do with your body. So we read, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.” The church was not upset with that. The church was not dealing with it. Why? Look at 1 Corinthians 6:12. There was a slogan going about in the Corinthian church: “Everything is permissible for me.” I can do everything. I don’t have to concern myself with keeping of God’s moral law. I am justified by grace through faith alone. Of course, St. Paul condemned that nonsense.
Turn to 1 John 1. The apostle John referred to this antinomian heresy in verse 6: “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not live by the truth.” These people were claiming that they were saved by grace through faith alone, and that they were not under law anymore. They were now free, and they could do anything they wanted with their bodies – it didn’t matter.
And in 1 John 3:7 John says, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.” Antinomianism is not the way of God. It is wandering away from the straight path that God has revealed to us, which is the path of righteousness. “He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” You see, there were teachers and leaders in New Testament churches who were heretics. They taught this “salvation made easy” idea, that you can go to heaven while sinning to your heart’s content as you live in this world.
1 John 2:18-19 says, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.” In other words, antinomians are antichrists. These were antinomian leaders, antinomian teachers, and they were kicked out. They were disciplined. They were sent out from the Church of Jesus Christ in order that the Church be kept pure. Antinomianism is a heresy.
Peter says the same thing in 2 Peter. 2 Peter, like Jude, was written to combat this heresy of antinomianism. In 2 Peter 2:19 we read: “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” This was the essence of their teaching. No wonder American churches, especially those of evangelical and Universal persuasion, are filled with people. The preachers are telling them, “You can be a Christian and sin.” Everybody likes that, you see. There is pleasure in sin. Everyone is interested in it.
2. The Opposite of This is the Gnostic Antinomian Mystic
Antinomian mystic have never been concerned with social status, physical comfort or moral redemption. Instead, their goal has always been the acquisition of divine power through mystical merger with the godhead.
What society calls evil is what violates boundaries and overflows without limit, blurring the categories between pure and impure, sacred and profane.
The antinomian heroine deliberately ignores these distinctions, performing acts that most people would see as dirty, disgusting or dangerous. Trespassing on divine territory, she frees herself from society’s taboos, dissolving shame, fear and judgment as she opens herself up to the absolute. With every forbidden act, the soul is enlarged and strengthened, made more able to receive and integrate the divine power unleashed thereby.
Antinomian mystics have never been concerned with social status, physical comfort or moral redemption. Instead, their goal has always been the acquisition of divine power through mystical merger with the godhead.
What society calls evil is what violates boundaries and overflows without limit, blurring the categories between pure and impure, sacred and profane. The antinomian heroine deliberately ignores these distinctions, performing acts that most people would see as dirty, disgusting or dangerous. Trespassing on divine territory, she frees herself from society’s taboos, dissolving shame, fear and judgment as she opens herself up to the absolute.
With every forbidden act, the soul is enlarged and strengthened, made more able to receive and integrate the divine power unleashed thereby.
The antinomian current in Gnostic Christianity came in two flavors, weak and strong. The “weak” antinomian ideal held that since the flesh was just a temporary vehicle for the spirit, mature Christians could do whatever they pleased with their bodies. Biblical rules governing diet, behavior, dress, sex, etc., were restrictive and unnecessary distractions intended for the mundane herd, not the spiritual elite.
The “strong” antinomian ideal was embraced by those Christian groups we would today call “Short Path”. Preaching depravity as a positive value, these urged believers to sin without restraint. Sex, fear and intoxicants were used to break down taboos and social conditioning, releasing tremendous amounts of magical energy while sanctifying the vilest deeds with a mysterious grace.
The most infamous Gnostic antinomian of all was Carpocrates, a second-century teacher from the Egyptian city of Alexandria whose students prided themselves on their “knowledge of the deep things of Satan.” (Clement of Alexandria, Letter to Theodore, from Willis Barnstone’s The Other Bible, pp. 341-42, pub. A.D.1984)
According to St. Irenaeus, what made Carpocrates’ teachings so especially blasphemous was the idea Christians had to bribe the Devil in order to return to God. The Devil would guide the souls of dead through the afterworld, but only if they had already paid him in life through the ritualistic performance of a multitude of “sins.” (St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, Barnstone, Ibid, pp. 648-49)
The controversy over Carpocrates didn’t end with St. Irenaeus. St. Clement accuses the mischievous mystic of stealing a copy of “The Secret Gospel of Mark” from the Church library in Alexandria and adapting it to suit his “blasphemous and carnal” teachings. St. Clement doesn’t tell us what these teachings were, but since Carpocrates was an enthusiastic student of Platonic philosophy we can probably take an educated guess. “Secret Mark” has Jesus spending the night in a cave showing “the Kingdom of God” to a man He raised from the dead. Similarly, Plato’s “cave” myth compares ordinary waking life to imprisonment in a dark tunnel filled with flickering shadows, a pit we can only escape with the help of philosophy.
Carpocrates probably combined the myth of “Plato’s Cave” with the teachings of “Secret Mark” and adapted them to an initiation ritual intended to lead his students to the eternal world outside the cave.
Many today are outside the cave of moral protection and divine truth. Many today within the camps of Universalism would rather compromise than become steadfast. Many would rather uphold or be held sway to believe the following Gnostic / Antinomian belief:
Although a variety of beliefs may be traced to the different sects under the umbrella of Gnosticism, the prominent doctrines of the “Great Gnostic” sects, in variant forms, presented the following basic ideas:
1. A transcendent (above and beyond human experience) and ineffable (inexpressible and unutterable) deity who is pure spirit.
2. A dualism between spirit and matter, which necessitated a chain of emanated beings (each a little lower in supremacy) in order to link the deity with matter.
3. A split within the chain of emanated beings, which resulted in the creation of material things and man by a Demiurge (a supernatural being imagined as creating or fashioning the world in subordination to the “supreme being” and sometimes regarded as the originator of evil).
4. A spark of the divine implanted in man at his creation.
5. The redemption and release of this divine spark by means of illumination through increased knowledge, resulting in self-awareness and a high level of insight, which is attained by a select and privileged few.
6. A Christ who redeems by being the Revelator or Illuminator rather than the suffering Savior.
7. Salvation by knowledge, essentially self-knowledge.
In brief, unlike the Judaizers (another heretical sect) who taught that Christianity was a synthesis (combining) between the legalistic keeping of the law and faith in Christ, the Gnostics taught that Christ was a pantheistic (of nature) emanation, lower than God, who only seemed to appear in the flesh. To the Gnostic all matter or material was essentially evil, and since Christ was an emanation and not evil, He could not have taken on human flesh. Gnostics firmly denied the Incarnation of Christ, stating that He was only an apparition (immaterial appearance) who left no footprints.
The Gnostic Cerinthus was more subtle in his teaching. He declared that there was both a human Jesus and a divine Christ, that divinity came upon Him at His baptism and left Him at the cross. In fact, the Gospel of Peter, a spurious book, translates the words of Jesus on the cross like this: “My power, my power, why hast thou forsaken me?”
This rhetoric is also similar to the thought patterns found within some doctrines – via – Universalism/enlightenment – floating around in churches, cyberspace, and social networks like Facebook & MySpace.