Article Review: Legalism is Antinomianism, just as Antinomianism is a kind of Legalism

For those of you that have spent a lot of time reading my articles on PM Notes, you will notice that I have devoted a lot of energy to distinguish the differences and similarities between Legalism and Licentiousness.  In fact I have shared with you that while I was in California, serving as an associate pastor, I was labeled legalistic by some in the church.  With that said, I have also been labeled as licentious by some in my current church community.  My point is not to make this blog post out to be about me or create some online public diary, but to simply show that their are very big confusions that can arise when people encounter a robust theology of the cross.  In other words, in order to resolve the confusion that comes about from the theology of the cross a person will many times apply the labels of licentiousness or legalism to the theology of the cross so that their confusion can be neutralized, so that balance can be restored to their theological worldview.  

In a previous article on this blog titled, “Free The Gospel! The Gospel Does Not Lead To Licentiousness,” my main point was to stress the fallacy that licentiousness is limited or reduced through diminishing or conditioning the Gospel.  In a followup article I attempted to show that individuals may react against the Law, even sometimes removing the proclamation of the Law, in order to theoretically avoid the pitfalls of legalism (To read the second article, please CLICK HERE).  Both of these articles attempt to show that the aversion to the Gospel in reaction to licentiousness and the aversion to the Law in reaction to legalism have a fundamental and common flaw, they both blame the Law and the Gospel for the error of licentiousness and legalism when in reality the problem is with the sinful nature perverting and abusing the Law and Gospel.

Well, today another article was just released on this same subject by Dr. Jack Kilcrease at his blog, Theologia Crucisthat helps tie both of my previous two articles together.  In his article, "Legalism is Antinomianism, just as Antinomianism is a kind of Legalism," Dr. Kilcrease shares that, 
"It should also not go unnoticed that those who reject the law must create new laws in order to prevent people from obeying the real law of God and thereby simply establish a new legalism."  
In other words, he shares in the article that there is no such thing as antinomianism because it is truly the impossible heresy.  Furthermore, he shares that legalism is essentially a type of antinomianism.  Otherwise stated, they are truly related, 
"Whereas liberals think that antinomianism is the way to overcome legalism, and conservatives think that legalism is the way to overcome antinomianism, the fact of the matter is is that both end up in the same place: self-justification and therefore ultimately a rejection of God's law itself."
Dr. Kilcrease rightly shows us in his article that legalism and licentiousness are both similar reactionary false theologies. Therefore, where shall the Christian find rest and not succumb to these false theologies? Peter Kurowski comments on Luther's perspective on this subject saying,
"…he [i.e. Luther] recognized a theology of the cross that engendered attacks from all sides even though it was God's greatest display of love. For the legalist, the cross destroys the illusion that we can do something apart from God thus rendering God less than almighty. For the person bent on lawlessness, the cross says 'look how awful all lawlessness is that the holy Son of God must suffer so for the sin of mankind!' With the deepest of convictions, Luther believed this message alone could bring about the needed changes in the church, in culture, and in individual lives."[1]
Kurowski goes on to say
"Nothing has changed. Only through a paradoxical vision from a meaty, mighty, majestic gospel can the love of the absolute paradox, Jesus Christ, keep societies from being seduced by the self-centered, self-flattering nudity of Lady Legalism and Lady Lawless; the poster prostitutes of secularism."[2]
My friends the Theology of the Cross is where we find ourselves at rest. For it is only in the Cross that the extremes of legalism and licentiousness are disdained.

[1] Peter Kurowski, The Seduction of Extremes (Pleasant Word, 2007), 51.
[2] Ibid.

To read more on this subject, CLICK HERE.

I commend Dr. Kilcrease's article to you.

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