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ANTINOMIANS (Gr. avri, against, v6 to...

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 130 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ANTINOMIANS (Gr. avri, against, v6 tos, law)  , a
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term apparently coined by Luther to stigmatize Johannes Agricola (q.v.) and his following, indicating an interpretation of the anti-thesis between law and gospel, recurrent from the earliest times . Christians being released, in important particulars, from conformity to the Old Testament polity as a whole, a real difficulty attended the settlement of the limits and the immediate authority of the remainder, known vaguely as the moral law . Indications are not wanting that St Paul's
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doctrine of
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justification by faith was, in his own day, mistaken or perverted in the interests of immoral licence . Gnostic sects approached the question in two ways . Marcionites, named by Clement of Alexandria Antitactae (revolters against theDemiurge) held the Old Testament
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economy to be throughout tainted by its source; but they are not accused of licentiousness . Manichaeans, again, holding their spiritual being to be unaffected by the
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action of
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matter, regarded carnal sins as being, at worst, forms of bodily disease . Kindred to this latter view was the position of sundry sects of
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English fanatics during the
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Commonwealth, who denied that an elect person sinned, even when committing acts in themselves
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gross and evil . Different from either of these was the Antinomianism charged by Luther against Agricola . Its starting-point was a dispute with Melanchthon in 1527 as to the relation between repentance and faith . Melanchthon urged that repentance must precede faith, and that knowledge of the moral law is needed to produce repentance . Agricola gave the initial place to faith, maintaining that repentance is the
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work, not of law, but of the gospel-given knowledge of the love of
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God . The resulting Antinomian controversy (the only one within the Lutheran
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body in Luther's lifetime) is not remarkable for the precision or the moderation of the combatants on either side .

Agricola was apparently satisfied in

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conference with Luther and Melanchthon at
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Torgau, December 1527 . His eighteen Positiones of 1537 revived the II controversy and made it acute . Random as are some of his statements, he was consistent in two
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objects: (I) in the
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interest of solifidian doctrine, to place the rejection of the Catholic doctrine of good
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works on a sure ground; (2) in the interest of the New Testament, to find all needful guidance for Christian duty in its principles, if not in its precepts . From the latter
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part of the 17th century charges of Antinomianism have frequently been directed against Calvinists, on the ground of their disparagement of " deadly doing " and of " legal preaching." The virulent controversy between Arminian and Calvinistic Methodists produced as its ablest outcome Fletcher's Checks to Antinomianism (1771–1975) . See G . Kawerau, in A . Hauck's Realencyklopadie (1896); Riess, in I . Goschler's Dict . Encydop. de la theol. cath . (1858); J . H . Blunt .

Dict. of Doct. and Hist . Theol . (1872); J . C . L .

Gieseler, Ch . Hist . (New York ed . 1868, vol. iv.) .

End of Article: ANTINOMIANS (Gr. avri, against, v6 tos, law)
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