How to Un-Confuse Religious Questions: Know That It’s Philosophy
Why is religion so confusing? Because in most cases it’s not religion. People can’t make heads or tails out of religion in general because they don’t understand that most religions flow from world philosophy. And really, politics as well. If schools taught solid world philosophy there wouldn’t be a Democratic Party and religion would be easily understood.
I was reminded of this as I received a question by email yesterday concerning the religious doctrine of antinomianism. This is a religious doctrine that rejects the law of God in Christian living. Well, most Christians don’t even have a good working knowledge of what “law” is from a biblical perspective to begin with. At any rate, I will answer the antinomian question after I am done ranting.
Going to church is like going to a psychologist. Lots of people go to psychologists for “help,” but now ask them what school of thought their psychologist comes from…nothing but crickets. There are 200 to choose from by the way, and like religion, it comes from philosophy as well. In both cases, faith in expertism negates any concern for whatever ideology is driving the counsel. It’s about authority and not truth.
TTANC Ministries gets its share of grief from evangelicals because of our association with John Immel; well, they can get over it, because if you don’t understand world philosophy you are totally out of school in your discussion of religion in general and theology in particular. Sorry.
Most religious scholars are the scum of the earth because they know their religious commentary is orthodoxy. Of course, most Christians think orthodoxy is a stated clarification of a religion’s truth. Nope, and you can add that piece of trash onto the ignorance heap. Orthodoxy is mythology’s “noble lie.” It is a bedtime storybook for serfs. For example, if the great knowers want to teach the serfs about self-confidence, they write a catechism titled, “The Little Blue Engine That Could.”
Go to church if you will, believe that you are getting the “meat of the word” if you will, but it is really The Little Blue Engine That Could orthodoxy. The demeaning presupposition you agree to is that the pastor is feeding you milk that your poor little juvenile soul can digest. Be like me; when I lost my first family because they didn’t respect me as one that knows anything, I took responsibility for being stupid and letting others think for me. I suggest you do the same; it doesn’t mean you have to be stupid for the rest of your life. Stop being intellectually lazy and grow up. And for crying out loud, stop paying an institution 10% of your income to relegate your life to total destruction or mediocracy at best.
Let’s take the yard sign we have seen around Xenia lately. It is the article marque up top. I went out and took a picture of a couple of them this morning for this article. Jesus. What is that saying?
With soft gentle voice: “Well Paul, it is saying that our faith is childlike and simply focuses on ‘Jesus’ (pronounce like this: “geeeeeee-ja [strong emphasis on the “ja”] uuuus). Ya man, Jesus PERIOD! Ahhhmeeen (Strong emphasis on the “ah”)”.
Begin tough love here: ‘no silly, you who delights in proclaiming yourself a simpleton, this one word with a period is a statement concerning a vast body of philosophical thought.’ But let’s pause here for a moment to interject a nugget. The Bible actually explains why churchians like these spiritual bumper stickers so much; it’s a form of idle worship. You see, you can really make this sign say anything about Jesus that you want it to say because it is a one-word prism. This is how idles operate. A prime example is another local one. A church in nearby Monroe, Ohio has a 60-foot statue of Jesus adjacent to the I-75 corridor. Many people have been interviewed in regard to what the statue means to them. It shouldn’t surprise you that the statue has a different meaning for every person they interviewed. This is how idols work; so, that is in play as well.
What does all of this have to do with antinomianism? Like all other religious debates, you can present a biblical argument, but the philosophical premise of the biblical argument is rarely discussed and this is why religious debate is a gargantuan quagmire that rarely leads to any substantive resolution.
So first, let’s explain the sign, and then how the sign relates to the religious perspective on antinomianism. The sign actually represents a world philosophy with a religious label. This is the foundational philosophical premise of Protestantism in particular. It is an interpretation of reality or state of being, not the Bible. This is a worldview of reality dressed in biblical garb. Here it is:
Definition: all of reality is interpreted through the person of Christ and His works. How does that work? It works through the philosophy of metaphysical narrative. What’s that? It is the belief that reality is only experienced because reality is a predetermined narrative written by some higher power. So, though it feels like you are doing life, you are not doing life, you are only experiencing what has been predetermined in the script. You are an actor in a “divine drama.” In the specific case of Protestantism, REALITY is a metaphysical narrative about God’s salvation in Christ. EVERYONE has been written into the script and the life they have lived or will live is predetermined by the metaphysical script. Again, it is experienced like we are doing life through freewill choices, but we are really ONLY EXPERIENCING the prewritten story.
This is what is really behind all of the freewill/sovereignty of God debates among evangelicals that never resolve anything because people don’t really understand the philosophy behind it. The contemporary, more or less, nomenclature for this Protestant doctrine is, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us which is said to be “experienced subjectively.”
Look, if you pay attention you will begin to see it everywhere. Just google, “divine drama” for starters and look at Bible study programs like The Gospel Project and Bible Mesh. They are all based on interpreting reality from a redemptive prism. The historical-redemptive hermeneutic is also based on this worldview.
What does this have to do with antinomianism? It enables Protestant scholars to claim an allegiance to God’s law on the one hand, while in their reality God’s law is just part of God’s prewritten gospel narrative. The narrative glorifies God when His wrath is poured out on the law-breakers who were written into the script by Him, and he is also glorified by those who love the law according to His metaphysical script.
But, they are antinomian from this viewpoint because the dirty little secret follows: any decision to follow God’s law is predetermined by God’s prewritten gospel narrative; i.e., reality. This is why Martin Luther suggested that a true Christian should be indifferent to whether or not they keep God’s law because it is really God keeping it to begin with:
He, however, who has emptied himself through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more (The Heidelberg Disputation: thesis 24).
So, why go to church or even try to be saved? According to them, this is “working out your salvation with trembling and fear.” Stay faithful to church and this buys you assurance of salvation because you are persevering; but while persevering you can claim that it is God doing it and not you. This is why the whole I didn’t do it, God did it is so prevalent among Christians. It is doubtful they understand the ideology behind their mere experience of doing things they are supposedly not doing, but orthodoxy leads to a functioning apart from intellectual understanding.
This is nothing new. Jesus’ specific beef with the Pharisees is that they “relaxed” the law; i.e., they were deficient in acts of love according to the law (Matthew 5:19 ESV, 23:23, Galatians 5:6). This is because they were inundated with these same types of philosophical ideas.
What is antinomianism? It is the relaxing of the law’s use for love in Christian living without any fear of condemnation. Antinomian philosophies and the theological doctrines driven by them usually teach a condemnation of law while claiming an endearment for it. This makes love a fearful works salvation.
That’s antinomianism in a nutshell.