Friday, January 28, 2011

Antinomianism or Legalism?

In reference to the recent comments by Frank Turk about the White Horse Inn's discussion of Law and Gospel, R. Scott Clark writes:

Antinomianism? I’ll show you antinomianism: defiance of God’s holy will as revealed in the fourth commandment. Reformed Christians confess that God has given ten commandments. What about the fourth commandment? Most of the evangelicals I’ve known, who are wound up about the “Lordship Controversy,” are antinomian (lawless) when it comes to the fourth commandment.

This reminds me of John MacArthur's view of alcohol...: 'REAL Christians will see this exactly as I do, the rest are antinomians!'


  1. Which command forbids alcohol?

  2. There are plenty of warnings in Scripture about drunkenness and guys like MacArthur have a specific interpretation of those passages, those about alcohol, the nature of alcohol in Biblical times.

    That said, they argue that their interpretation of those passages are correct, and therefore Christian practice should be based therein. At least MacArthur suggests Christian liberty in practice by claiming that "it's ok to drink alcohol", (even though he takes it away by suggesting that best Christians would abstain).

  3. Can we really equate inferences, which seem to place our Lord himself in moral jeopardy (after all, he made wine!) with one of the ten commandments?

    Among contemporary evangelicals it is virtually unquestioned that there are only 9 commandments. The Reformed churches, by contrast, confess that there are 10. I don't claim that Reformed practice is universally faithful, but we do confess the abiding validity of the moral law, all ten commandments, and we do confess a weekly sabbath and we're supposed to practice it.

    The point is this: who is the antinomian here? Those who ignore the 4th commandment (because it alone is totally Mosaic) or those who seek to obey all 10 commandments? I take it that the 10 commandments are more obvious and have more authority than JM's inferences about alcohol.

  4. Well again, MacArthur and his type can say "Who is the antinomian here, those who keep the 10 commandments or those who keep the 10 commandments (albeit in "spirit") and the REST of Scripture's testimony."

    I agree that the 10 Commandments are more obvious, but the Sunday-has-become-the-Christian-Sabbath (including all the sundry laws attached to it) is inference, much of it based on post-Biblical commentary and tradition, much like MacArthur's 'wine in the Bible was watered-down-grapejuice' claims.

    And there's my point. Why is your specific understanding of the Sabbath command binding on Christians, whereas J. Mac's view of alcohol isn't, especially given the diversity of opinion on the matter even between the Reformers.

    I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interact with me on this, as you have on other topics in the past.

  5. One other point, you write:

    "Among contemporary evangelicals it is virtually unquestioned that there are only 9 commandments. The Reformed churches, by contrast, confess that there are 10"

    I think that's a bit overstating the case. Most contemporary evangelicals are dispensationalist and view the 10 Commandments as specific to the economy of Israel.

    My question really relates to your specific view of the Sabbath, it's transfer to Sunday, and the binding of that view upon Christians, given the diversity of opinion?

  6. I would post a long pithy comment but it is the Sabbath and I dare not.

  7. 1. We have the example of Christ and the apostles regarding the first day of the week.
    2. John Murray talks about the typological nature of the preface to the 4th commandment in Deut.5. The Israelites are commanded to remember the sabbath because it is the day they were delivered from the house of bondage in Eygpt, which typologically represents sin in the O.T. So too, Christ's resurrection on the first day of the week delivered his people from their bondage to sin and death and testified of God the Father's acceptance of his Son's sacrifice/atonement.

  8. It is one thing to meet during the first day of the week (keeping in mind that most were still observing Saturday Sabbath during that time), and transferring the OT command with all it's Old Covenant connotation to Sunday with out clear Biblical warrant. References to the Lord's Day are debated.

    I realize many Reformed folks have, over time, taken the Sunday-is-now-the-sabbath viewpoint, but it seems to me that to teach that one must obey the Sabbath laws on Sunday is an argument without solid Biblical basis and rarely followed in all it's stipulations.