Antinomianism


Antinomianism

"For the term in politics describing socialist movements, see Autonomism"

Antinomianism (from the Greek "ἀντί", "against" + "νόμος", "law"), or lawlessness (in the Greek Bible: ἀνομία, [http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?word=458 ἀνομία] which is "unlawful"), in theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities. [ [http://www.bartleby.com/61/39/A0343900.html The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000.] ] Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation.

The term has become a point of contention among those opposed to religious authorities. Few groups or sects explicitly call themselves "antinomian", but the charge is often leveled by some sects against competing sects. Quaker beliefs are the most prominent representation of Antinomianism during the American colonial period.

Antinomianism in the Hebrew Bible

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, different covenants are described; two of them are the Davidic and the Mosaic. The Davidic adds an emphasis of God's unconditional commitment to the Mosaic's apparent emphasis on God's demands; however, both Moses and David describe the same eternal covenant, a covenant that was further expounded by Elijah, Isaiah, and the other prophets, who have to remind followers repeatedly of God's demands. It is stated in the Bible that certain powers will try to change (not expound) the Mosaic Law. For example, in speaking of the end times:

Antinomianism in the New Testament

The first major dispute [In :

The apostles and elders met at Jerusalem, and after a spirited discussion, their conclusion, later called the "Apostolic Decree", possibly the first act of differentiation of the Church from its Jewish roots [ [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=222&letter=B&search=Baptism Jewish Encyclopedia: Baptism] : "According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to 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."] (see also List of events in early Christianity), was recorded in as the basis. See also Old Testament Law directed at non-Jews and Leviticus 18.

Pauline passages supporting antinomianism

Paul of Tarsus, in his Letters, claims several times that believers are saved by the unearned grace of God, not 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 which according to Strong's G5498 [ [http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=5498 Strong's G5498] ] literally means "something written by hand" which is variously translated as "written code" or "record". However, within the context of the following verses, especially verse , , ), and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem (, part of the "Incident at Antioch." [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08537a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers] see section titled: "THE INCIDENT AT ANTIOCH"] Paul publicly accused Peter of judaizing. Even so, he does go on to say that sins remain sins, and upholds by several examples the kind of behaviour that the church should not tolerate (e.g., ). 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, see also The Fig Tree. Most scholars hold that Jesus did not reject the law, but directed that it should be obeyed in context. e.g., E. P. Sanders [ Sanders "Jesus and Judaism", 1985, pages 264-269 on the Sabbath, handwashing and food ] 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." There may be passages where the words of Jesus have been misinterpreted and were not really in contradiction with the Jewish law. [ [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=245&letter=N&search=Gospel#703 Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament: Misunderstood Passages] ]

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is sometimes portrayed as referring to people he sees as wicked with the term "ergazomenoi tēn anomian" () He declared: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (bibleref2|Matthew|5:17). A parallel verse to bibleref2|Matthew|7:21 is bibleref2|James|1:22.

See also Expounding of the Law, Great Commission, Hyperdispensationalism

bibleverse|1|John|3:4|NRSV states: "Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness."

Antinomianism among Christians

In the case of Christianity, the controversy arises out of the doctrine of grace, the forgiveness of sins and atonement by faith in Jesus Christ; Christians being released, in important particulars, from conformity to the Old Testament polity as a whole, a real difficulty attended the settlement of the limits and the immediate authority of the remainder, known vaguely as the moral law, see also Cafeteria Christianity. If God forgives sins, what exactly is the disadvantage in sinning, or the reward or purpose of obedience?

Multiple issues

There are several issues that are addressed by the charge of antinomianism. The charge may represent the fear that a given theological position does not lead to the edification of the believer or assists him in leading a regenerate life. Doctrines that tend to erode the authority of the church and its right to prescribe religious practices for the faithful are often condemned as antinomian. The charge is also brought against those whose teachings are perceived as hostile to government and established authority and the rule of law.

Charges of antinomianism against early Christians

St Paul's doctrine of justification by faith has been accused of leading to immoral licence. In bibleref2|Acts|6:13-14 Saint Stephen is accused by "false witnesses" of speaking against the law. The first people accused of antinomianism were found, apparently, in Gnosticism; various aberrant and licentious acts were ascribed to these by their orthodox enemies. In the bibleref2|Revelation|2:6–15, the New Testament speaks of Nicolaitanes, who are traditionally identified with a Gnostic sect, in terms that suggest the charge of antinomianism might be appropriate. In the Apostolic Constitutions, verse 6.19, [ [http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-07/anf07-46.htm#P6492_2246960 ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily | Christian Classics Ethereal Library ] ] Simon Magus is accused of antinomianism, though traditionally he is accused of Simony. We have few independent records of actual Gnostic teachings, but they seem to have approached the question in two ways: Marcionites, named by Clement of Alexandria "Antitactae" (revolters against the Demiurge), held the Old Testament economy to be throughout tainted by its source; but they are not accused of licentiousness. For example, Marcion's version of bibleref2|Luke|23:2: "We found this fellow [Jesus] perverting the nation and destroying the law and the prophets". [ [http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/3827/Epip13.html Epiphanius: Panarion ] ] Manichaeans, again, holding their spiritual being to be unaffected by the action of matter, regarded carnal sins as being, at worst, forms of bodily disease. Kindred to this latter view was the position of sundry sects of English fanatics during the Commonwealth, who denied that an elect person sinned, even when committing acts in themselves gross and evil.

Charges by Catholics against Protestants

Roman Catholicism tends to charge Protestantism with antinomianism, based in part on the distinctively Protestant doctrine of sola fide, salvation by faith alone (bibleref2|Ephesians|2:8-9, cf. bibleref2|James|2:24, and the typical Protestant rejection of the sacramental liturgy of the Roman church and its body of Canon law. Within Roman Catholicism itself, Blaise Pascal accused the Jesuits of antinomianism in his "Lettres provinciales", charging that Jesuit casuistry undermined moral principles.

Charges by Luther against Agricola

Different from either of these was the "antinomianism" charged by Martin Luther against Johannes Agricola. According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article on "Antinomians": "a term apparently coined by Luther to stigmatize Johannes Agricola and his following, indicating an interpretation of the anti-thesis between law and gospel, recurrent from the earliest times." Its starting-point was a dispute with Melanchthon in 1527 as to the relation between repentance and faith. Melanchthon urged that repentance must precede faith, and that knowledge of the moral law is needed to produce repentance. Agricola gave the initial place to faith, maintaining that repentance is the work, not of law, but of the gospel-given knowledge of the love of God. The resulting Antinomian controversy (the only one within the Lutheran body in Luther's lifetime) is not remarkable for the precision or the moderation of the combatants on either side. Agricola was apparently satisfied in conference with Luther and Melanchthon at Torgau, December 1527. His eighteen "Positiones" of 1537 revived the controversy and made it acute. Random as are some of his statements, he was consistent in two objects:

# In the interest of solifidian doctrine, to place the rejection of the Catholic doctrine of good works on a sure ground;
# In the interest of the New Testament, to find all needful guidance for Christian duty in its principles, if not in its precepts.

Charges against Calvinists

From the latter part of the 17th century, charges of antinomianism were frequently directed against Calvinists, on the ground of their disparagement of "deadly doing" and of "legal preaching." The virulent controversy between Arminian and Calvinistic Methodists produced as its ablest outcome Fletcher's "Checks to Antinomianism" (1771–75).

Charges against other groups

Other Protestant groups that have been so accused include the Anabaptists and Mennonites. In the history of American Puritanism, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were accused of antinomian teachings by the Puritan leadership of Massachusetts.

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. The conspicuous austerity of life among surviving groups of Anabaptists or Calvinists suggests that these accusations are often, or even mostly, made for rhetorical effect. It is true, however, that certain Antinomian groups were radicalised by historical events and came to sympathize with the activties of Levellers and other forms of resistance against the burgeoning of capitalism, the enclosure of the commons and the slave trade (see "The Many-Headed Hydra", by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker). The persecution of such groups by the establishment in the form of conservative Puritans is best exemplified in the punishment meted out to the preacher James Naylor, who was subjected to 310 lashes and branded on the forehead before having his tongue pierced by a hot poker. He had preached against enclosure and the slave trade. [ [http://homepages.nyu.edu/~rb137/teach/0230/anthology/winthrop_hutchinson_files/frame.htm#slide0003.htm John Winthrop ] ]

The Ranters of 17th century England were one of the most out-right antinomian sects in the History of Christianity.

Charges against Quakers

Quakers were charged with antinomianism due to their rejection of a graduate clergy and a clerical administrative structure, as well as the 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. See also Christian anarchism.

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Antinomianism in Buddhism

Among Buddhists there are three main types of antinomians: naturalist/spontaneous antinomians, ritualist/philosophical antinomians, and empirical antinomians.Fact|date=July 2008 There may also be those who subscribe to all or some combination of these three basic types.The naturalist antinomians believe that enlightened beings may spontaneously break dhamma codes of conduct while living out their natural state of enlightenened mind. There are many tales of mad saints in the crazy wisdom school tradition of Buddhism who perform acts which may appear to be bizarre and immoral to unenlightened persons. Ritualist antinomians, such as some Tantric Buddhists, may break dhamma codes of conduct in specific religious rituals designed to teach non-duality or some other philosophical concept. They may for example have sex during a religious rite or perform some other ritual inversion of a rule, while such acts would be unacceptable to them outside the ritual context. Empirical antinomians, such as followers of the Great Western Vehicle, may break or disregard traditional dhamma rules which they believe are unconducive to the individual's contemplative life. They view dhamma codes as arising in a specific historical-cultural context and as such they may not always in every case be supportive of Buddhist training. It is up to the individual, and the community, to test and verify which dhamma rules promote and which hinder enlightenment. An empirical antinomian Buddhist monk may for example determine that eating after noon (which is forbidden) is actually conducive to their personal meditative practice rather than hindering. One may be an omni-antinomian as well, believing in all three types of antinomianism. Or one may be a naturalist-empirical, or a ritualist-empirical, or a naturalist-ritualist antinomian.

Antinomianism in Islam

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

# the Qurʾān, which is Islam's central religious text;
# the sunnah, which refers to actions practised during the time of the prophet Muḥammad, and is often thought to include the "ḥadīth", or recorded words and deeds of Muḥammad;
# "ijmāʿ", which is the consensus of the "ʿulamāʾ", or class of Islamic scholars, on points of practice;
# "qiyās", which—in Sunnī Islam—is a kind of analogical reasoning conducted by the ʿulamāʾ upon specific laws that have arisen through appeal to the first three sources; in 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 terms can be used to convey the sense of "antinomian": "shirk" ("association of another being with God"); "bidʿah" ("innovation"); "kufr" ("disbelief"); "ḥarām" ("forbidden"); etc.

As an example, the 10th-century Sufi mystic Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj 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 in Islamic tradition—"I am God." [Pratt 72] Another individual who has often been termed antinomian is Ibn al-ʿArabi, a 12th–13th century scholar and mystic whose doctrine of "waḥdat al-wujūd" ("unity of being") has sometimes been interpreted as being pantheistic, and thus "shirk." [Chittick 79]

Apart from individuals, entire groups of Muslims have also been called antinomian. One of these groups is the Ismāʿīlī Shīʿīs, who have always had strong millenarian tendencies arising partly from persecution directed at them by Sunnīs. Influenced to a certain extent by Gnosticism, [See, for example, " [http://lexicorient.com/e.o/ismailis.htm Isma'ilism] " at "Encyclopaedia of the Orient".] the Ismāʿīlīs developed a number of beliefs and practices—such as their belief in the "imāmah" and an 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. [Daftary 47; Clarence-Smith 56] Certain other groups that evolved out of Shīʿah belief, such as the Alawites [Bar-Asher & Kofsky, 67 "ff."] and the Bektashis, [Schimmel 338] 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 forbidden products like alcohol and pork, the non-wearing of the ḥijāb ("veil") by women, and assembling in gathering places called "cemevi"s rather than in mosques. [Weir " [http://www.beyond-the-pale.co.uk/albanian4.htm Differences Between Bektashism and Islamic Orthodoxy] "]

The use of the antinomian idea in a secular context

In his study of late 20th century western society the historian Eric Hobsbawm ["Age of Extremes," 1992] 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 as 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.

Notes

References

* 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.
* Dunn, James D.G. "Jesus, Paul and the Law" 1990 ISBN 0-664-25095-5
* "Encyclopaedia of the Orient". " [http://lexicorient.com/e.o/ismailis.htm Isma'ilism] ". Retrieved 10 October 2006.
* Freedman, David Noel. (1998). Anchor Bible Dictionary, "Antinomianism", ISBN 0385193513
* J. C. L. Gieseler, "Ch. Hist." (New York ed. 1868, vol. iv.)
* G. Kawerau, in A. Hauck's "Realencyklopadie" (1896)
* 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 " [http://www.beyond-the-pale.co.uk/albanian4.htm The Bektashi Order of Dervishes] ". Retrieved 10 October 2006.
*
* Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. "The Many-Headed Hydra". Beacon Press, Boston, 2000

See also

* Christian Anarchism
* Old Testament - Christian View of the Law
* Legalism (theology)
* Marcionism
* Montanism
* Gnosticism
* Supersessionism
* Hyperdispensationalism
* Council of Jerusalem
* Great Commission
* Expounding of the Law
* Heterodoxy
* Minuth
* "Upāya-kauśalya"
* Covenant (biblical)
* Libertine
*Christian-Jewish reconciliation

External links

* [http://www.thepaulpage.com New Perspective on Paul]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1585&letter=A&search=antinomianism Jewish Encyclopedia: Antinomianism]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01564b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Antinomianism]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09071a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Moral Aspect of Divine Law]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10582c.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Mosaic Legislation]
* [http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect1chpt3.htm#art1 Catholic Catechism on The Moral Law]
* [http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/ANC_APO/ANTINOMIANS_Gr_avri_against_v6_.html Antinomians] in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
* [http://www.chc.org.sg/english/sermons/antinomianism.htm Sermon on Antinomianism]
* [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=245&letter=N#700 Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament - For and Against the Law]
* [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=254&letter=J&search=Jesus#1000 Jewish Encyclopedia: Jesus: Attitude Toward the Law]
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc01/Page_196.html Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Antinomianism]


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