Thursday 3 April 2014

A Book Review on "Antinomianism" by Mark Jones

Antinomianism - Reformed Theology's unwelcome guest?
Mark Jones
P&R publishing

This book is timely, incisive, warm and well researched. My initial impression in reading through these nine chapters is that my was soul refreshed. Reading this book was like a “breath of fresh air” spiritually speaking. There can be many currents of contemporary teaching, some of which are sometimes hard to pin down and one of these today is antinomianism. Mark Jones does well to expound its multi-faceted tentacles in the first chapter “Lessons from History”. Jones is careful to ensure that his readers understand that this unwelcome guest in the evangelical and reformed world has a number of different faces. It is not simply a teaching which is “against the law” which is what antinomian means etymologically, but something much broader.

The impetus for this book was perhaps, the author’s discovery that antinomianism was such a threat during the time of the Westminster assembly. In fact three other doctrinal threats in seventeenth–century England were Roman Catholicism, Arminianism and Socinianism (a defective view of the person of Christ and therefore the Trinity): Has anything really changed? (xiv). Surely, Solomon was right when he wrote “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).

The author handles the popular “law-gospel” slogan and he rejects the idea that the law is the antithesis of the gospel. He makes plain, in line with the Westminster Confession (19:7), that the “moral law does ‘sweetly comply’ with the grace of the gospel” (53). He also mentions that it is not enough to simply hold to a threefold division of the law in the chapter titled “The Law and the Gospel”. He succinctly sums up his case that the “issue is not so much whether one holds to a threefold use of the law, but which use is primary” (55).

The moral law is a friend of the Christian and of the church and yet this message has been muted in many quarters of evangelicalism today. It may be asked “why?”. One cannot be sure as to how to answer that question. However, I unreservedly commend this book to as wide readership as possible to stem the current unwelcome antinomian tide.

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