Given the Choice

If I were given the choice to err on the side of legalism or antinomianism I’d pick legalism every time. Legalism more closely resembles holiness than antinomianism resembles grace.Most every legalist I know thinks they’re doing what’s right. The few antinomians I’ve come across simply don’t care that they’re doing what’s wrong. Big difference in attitude.



6 thoughts on “Given the Choice

  1. Couldn’t you choose to have a good attitude about it even if the antinomians you know didn’t?
    I think I would choose to err on the side of antinomianism. Legalism was a dark, ugly place for me.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I think I’d answer the same as Nick, but I find it interesting because I think I was always grew up with the thought that antinomianism is closer to the truth. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of my friends from seminary would end up in that camp.

  3. Bryan: I don’t understand what you mean by “good attitude toward it.” The attitude I’m referring to is the attitude inherent in antinomianism, which is no care for doing what’s right; no conviction for sinning. I can’t see a way to conceive of that as good, especially if God is the standard by which we measure goodness.

    Danny: That’s interesting. I was raised Catholic so I was very aware of my sin from a young age (the Catholic guilt stereotype is pretty accurate). I’d say that I probably had a more legalistic view of things growing up but in my own head I had worked out a view more akin to what Muslims believe than anything. I figured that if I did more good than bad then I’d be in the clear. I can’t see that any branch of the Church has ever taught that.

  4. I was thinking more of not following a specific set of laws/rules but living according to a general idea of right and wrong. Or maybe basing your actions on general principles like loving God and loving neighbor. But if it’s throwing off any notion of right and wrong and just indulging in sin and flaunting it then yeah that’s not good. I’ve never known any Christians that do that, though, but I’ve seen plenty of legalists

  5. Growing up in New England, Catholicism is still the dominant view-shaper (that is, even if people reject it, their understanding of it impacts their view of God, religion, etc). So many of our teachings were (negatively) impacted by Catholicism, or at least a certain view of Catholicism.

    That is, good works were de-emphasized as bordering on legalism, because of the fear of appearing ‘too Catholic.’ So the thought was that the Bible would be closer to antinomianism rather than legalism. As I read the Bible, both, of course, ought to be rejected, but I find the emphasis toward holiness (freedom from sin, enjoyed in Christ) to be much stronger than the alternative (freedom from the Law, a phrase that begs for some explanation).

    Everything I just said, of course, needs some nuance.

  6. Bryan: Yeah, I was talking about the type of attitude that we find Jude warning against (Jude 4). There’s certain folks who believe in a most deplorable form of eternal security that says once you’ve made a confession for Christ it doesn’t matter what you do. I know a kid who got married, went away to Bible college, came back having an affair, and said he didn’t care because he believed in “once saved always saved.” And that’s not a unique example by any means. Legalism has its own problems; and I’m not defending legalism; just saying that given the choice I’d prefer it to antinomianism.

    Danny: I’m sure nuance would be helpful but I got your drift. A lot of the things that I came up believing when I came to be Pentecostal were reactionary in much the same way.

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