Resources on the Neo “Antinomianism”

TullianLast week, one sub-section of the Christian evangelical internet world was ignited when Tullian Tchividjian (hereafer, “TT”) got the left boot of disfellowship from the The Gospel Coalition. The primary reason, according to D.A. Carson and Tim Keller who wrote up a public statement of the aforesaid booting, had to do with his views of sanctification that border on antinomianism, or for those who may not be familiar with big, 20-dollar theological terms, anti-law.

At any rate, as TT was being shown the web portal, he took it upon himself to blast TGC for the way the members had ignored the SGM scandal and the preacher who-cannot-be-named. Of course, many wonder why, if that was such a big deal to him, why make a stink only after you get the left boot of disfellowship? I am not sure when TT became a contributing blogger to TGC, but I recall the Elephant Room 2 kerfuffle from a few years back and as far as theological kerfuffles go, that one was of more significance than the SGM scandal and the preacher-who-cannot-be-named.  Where was TT?

Back to the antinomian charge.

Now TT has his cheerleaders, like Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith (peace be upon him) who say that TT is NOT teaching any form of antinomianism. Not even a smidgen. All I can say is that TT has not been clear as to his views of sanctification and the role that God’s law plays in sanctifying believers. In a word, he is sloppy at best. That is also true of his Liberate conference friends, Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick, who have also made vague, antinomiany like statements in their conference talks.

Interestingly, my pal Dan Phillips makes an extremely astute and important observation about TT’s neo-antinomian like statements and his connection to Key Life radio host, Steve Brown and his views of grace.  Brown has some really bad and sub-biblical views of grace that are not only antinomian, but are libertine in their pronouncements. (Read Dan’s article to see what I mean).  Brown teaches (or taught) at Reformed Theological Seminary at Orlando, where, as it just so happens, TT went to school. Hmmmmm…

So, with that background in mind, I wanted to direct any readers who are like scratching their heads and wondering what all this kerfuffle is about by directing them to some resources for your consideration. I’ll try to limit them to those readily accessible on the internet:

Curt Daniel’s lecture on historic antinomianism [this links immediately to an mp3 audio recording, so be alert]. In fact, I would exhort any serious student to listen to his entire lecture series on the history and theology of Calvinism. It will be well worth your investment of time.

Peter Toon’s The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Non-Comformity 1689-1765. His third chapter goes into detail regarding antinomianism.

Jerry Wragg’s Shepherd’s Conference 2014 message, The New Antinomianism. Goes into more detail regarding TT and pastoral concerns as this teaching impacts the church.

Wayne De Villier’s two-part lecture series at my Sunday school class, The Misleading Refrains of the Hyper-grace Movement Part I and Part II.  Wayne goes into extensive detail of what this movement teaches by citing from the books and lectures of the key figures, including TT.

I think that if a person seriously weighs the concerns raised in Jerry and Wayne’s lectures specifically, he will see that this issue is more than a silly disagreement on semantics, but there exists some serious concerns as to how this view of grace/law impacts the sanctifying life of the believer.


20 thoughts on “Resources on the Neo “Antinomianism”

  1. Somebody just pointed me to THIS

    Now I am no expert on TT, though people I respect other than you (who I also respect) have made the charge of antinomianism as well. I do know its tough to fault that article.

  2. The “Dictionary of Bible Themes” has a helpful definition on antinomianism:

    A form of spiritual anarchy, which rejects the law as having any place in the Christian life, whether as instructor or as assessor. Paul’s teaching that Christians are free from the law is sometimes misunderstood as antinomian. But Paul reveres God’s law, and teaches believers, who are free from the law as a system of salvation, to keep it out of gratitude for salvation freely given, and because holiness as defined by the law is the Christian calling.

    Antinomianism as a rejection of God’s laws
    Jer 2:20 See also Pr 29:18; Jer 5:5; Hos 8:12; 2Pe 2:10

    Various people described as antinomian:

    Israel described as antinomian Eze 20:13 See also Ex 32:25; Jer 2:23-25; Hos 8:1; Zec 7:11-12

    The ungodly described as antinomian Jude 4 See also 2Ti 3:1-5; 2Pe 2:13-15; Jude 8

    The antichrist described as antinomian 2Th 2:3-10 See also Da 7:25; 8:9-12,23-25 The object of these prophecies, Antiochus Epiphanes, foreshadowed the antichrist in his behavior.

    Jesus Christ and his followers accused of antinomianism
    Mt 11:19 See also Mt 12:2; Jn 9:16; Ac 6:11-14

    Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law, not abolish it Mt 5:17-19

    Paul rejects antinomianism
    Ro 6:1-2 See also Ro 3:31; 7:7

    Misunderstandings, by opponents and converts alike, about Paul’s teaching on freedom from the law
    Paul accused of antinomianism Ac 21:28 See also Ro 3:8; 6:15

    Paul corrects the Corinthians’ interpretation of his teaching as a licence for antinomianism 1Co 10:23 The phrase “Everything is permissible” is probably the Corinthians’ misinterpretation of Paul’s teaching. See also 1Co 5:1-8; 6:12-13

    Punishment of antinomians
    Jer 6:19 See also Ezr 7:26; Am 2:4-5; Rev 22:15

  3. To add to the above list, the numerous places in the Psalms where the benefits of the law are extolled, off the top of my head, 1, 19, 119.

    At the risk of being the guy who plugs his system into everything, it really seems to me that dispensationalism solves a lot of this by correctly dividing ‘Law’ into its various components. There isn’t a monolithic Covenant of Works that encompasses everything from Adam to John the Baptist, but rather a series of (mostly unilateral) promises to elect Israel. In fact, I think you would find more ‘grace’ in the OT by weight if you were to go verse-by-verse. The Mosaic Law, though often viewed as the ‘thunder of Sinai’ is an extraordinarily gracious suzerain-vassal covenant with extensive provisions for foreigners, the poor, and even for sins against God that could have been judged more harshly, such as divorce.

    It upsets me, to say the least, when people use a strict Law/Grace binary as Tullian does, even going as far as to insinuate that the law of God is not loving. Before Christ, what more could God have done for his vineyard? Through the law, he kept Israel much of the time from reaching the full measure of their sin, as he didn’t do with the Amorites. When Messiah came, he used the law to point elect Israel to him so that they would believe and have eternal life (Matt 5-7). To this day, we see the preservative effect of the Mosaic law in Western civilization, and the horrendous consequences of its abandonment.

    Finally, as Mark Jones pointed out, the New Covenant is not a lawless proposition; it demands that we accept it, or face hell. The supposedly grace-only New Testament is filled with exhortations to continue in the faith, to be found faithful at his coming, to work out our faith. I think most Reformed guys are just so terrified of mingling works with faith in terms of justification that they keep them segregated in the Bible and their confessions as much as possible. Dispensationalists, in theory, treat each verse as perspicuous in its original context, without the need to jam everything into a Law/Grace binary, as we see Tullian do with 1 John 5:3.

  4. Fred, Thank you for the resources and organized approach. This topic was getting so confusing since comments and replies on both sides, by several people made it difficult to follow. Maybe now I can make sense of it all! Dave, my husband, and I enjoy the posts on Cripplegate you are doing. Then we heard you on No Co with Pastor Mike and found your blog here. spent several hours reading. You give us much to discuss!! Thank you for your dedication, hard work and desire to improve and encourage the thinking of those in the body of Christ. Best Regards, Barbara L

  5. Ok, but is Tullian Tchividjian antinomian is the question here. It’s worth noting that what he teaches is essentially mainline Lutheran doctrine. My reaction as I said over there is that there are far more worrisome people and teachings on the TGC blogs than Tchividjian and it actually does smack of something more than his alleged antinomianism as being the beef they have with him.

    BTW, (in writing this comment I just checked) it looks like Keller and company have removed all the comments critical or even questioning of TGC like they usually do and TT has now moved his content off the site altogether as planned. All of the comments including mine, that were removed could not obviously go with the migration. Everything is redirected to his new site.

    My two horrible deleted comments can be found HERE

    The last one is actually a response to Joe Carter from HERE where a counter article was published by Carson and Keller.

    One day I’m going to write a piece on the “The Gospel according To Lazarus”.

    The relation between justification and sanctification is perfectly illustrated in the story of his resurrection. As I said there. I certainly don’t believe that Lazarus played any part in raising himself from the dead, but once raised he did obey his masters voice and walk outta that tomb. Had he laid there stiff and stinking with no pulse, nobody would have believed he was alive. And quite rightly so.

    There’s no such thing as a Christian with no Gospel vital signs at all.

  6. Just so I am clear. I would not say TT is “antinomian” in the sense that he is living a profligate lifestyle or encourages people to do so. Just like Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie were “godly” men in spite of their non-Lordship errors.

    However, if you have such a watered down understanding of the law as it pertains to the life of a believer that it has no real bearing upon the believer’s life and in point of fact is understood to be a negative influence upon believers, that can play heavily into how you disciple people and even shepherd your children. That’s the danger and I think Jerry Wragg’s message addresses that problem well.

  7. Thanks for addressing this, Fred. Several years ago a friend and sister continuously espoused TT’s teachings (and Elyse) and as I continuously disagreed with most of what she said, this person got increasingly angry with my wife and me. Shortly after she began fornicating while still married, she got a divorce and married the creep who had used her while she was married. My wife and I were less than supportive and I suppose, lost her as a friend forever.

    From so many years ago, I saw how, experientially, TT’s teaching is damnable and damaging. It just never seemed biblical to me.

  8. Agreed. This is also one of the finest lines there is and it takes but a fluttering conversational breeze to nudge one into the antinomian bog. Some other of TT’s statements and those of some other folks, like say over at Whitehorse Inn, seem to been so nudged. I try to asses people on the best of what they say whenever possible.

  9. Thank you for sharing this; I didn’t know where TT stand as I don’t usually read his books nor have I heard him preach; I especially appreciate you sharing Jerry Wragg’s speaking on this topic and somehow I missed all of it during Shepherd’s Conference

  10. “many wonder why, if that was such a big deal to him, why make a stink only after you get the left boot of disfellowship? I am not sure when TT became a contributing blogger to TGC, but I recall the Elephant Room 2 kerfuffle from a few years back and as far as theological kerfuffles go, that one was of more significance than the SGM scandal and the preacher-who-cannot-be-named. Where was TT?”

    If you want to ask a question like that then the question you should be asking is, if this is a theological issue in TGC’s eyes, then why the sudden ousting from TGC after Tullian reprimanded them in private, concluding that the preacher who shall not be named is guilty? They had agreed the move would happen in August. Last week the verdict on Nate Morales came down and details about Grant Layman (Mahaney’s Brother in law) knowing and not reporting child sexual abuse were made public. And as a result, TT reprimanded the three guys who released that lame statement in support of “nameless preacher” and told them they need to issue an apology/retraction or something. Then suddenly, without explanation, he has to leave NOW and not in August. Connect the dots, Fred.

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  13. I just left this question:
    This is an honest question sir. And one for which I am assuming no particular answer from you. I’m asking.

    What are we then to make of the “student” who upon returning to the cabin proceeds to trash it even worse from then on and perhaps eventually even burning it down, having concluded that it will be rebuilt and cleaned up for them?

    I believe you could assuage a whole bunch of controversy with a clear unequivocal answer to that question.

  14. Huh???????
    Tim Keller booted TT for eliminating the law??? I’m sorry folks, but Keller is the Hyper-grace king of the jungle. I recently spent 150+ hours researching Keller due to many troubling teachings I encountered from a pastor who called Keller his hero and mentor. I quickly discovered that this pastor was getting all of his unbiblical ideas from Keller’s books and sermons….check out chapter 3 of Keller’s book The Prodigal God titled “Redefining Sin”…his new definition of sin virtually eliminates God’s law, freeing the sinner from any need of obedience.
    Note that Keller is cleverly and methodically posing as a Bible believer in order to slowly move us away from Truth- so I suppose this could be a situation that he had to go along with so as not to blow his cover…mmmm don’t know but this is mind boggling! I knew Keller had a lot of people fooled but this is just too much. Yikes!

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