Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The real problem behind the scene―uncovering the antinomianism behind the headcovering controversies

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In the comment section of my previous post, Sister Jessica made the intriguing observation as follows.
"You make a good point about headcovering in the USA being just as hard as in other nations. Here, even at church, there is a strong nonconformist attitude prevalent. But it looks like this: "Jesus made me free, so I don't have to fit in with any stuffy, old traditions. I'm free to do what I want, and don't you dare try to stick me in a mold!" So, we are all expected to conform with nonconformity, which in itself becomes a form of non-originality, and a prison! 
I think this attitude is rebellious and reflects a misunderstanding of the law versus grace issue. Being traditional is seen as being legalistic. How confused many in the church have become: for the headcovering doctrine is not a mere tradition of man but an ordinance from God!"
I thought what she mentioned above touches one of the most serious problems which modern Evangelical churches hold today. “Cheap grace” and “easy believism” are widely accepted and embraced while the costly grace was despised and labeled as legalistic or Pharisaism.

Concerning the danger of cheap grace, D.Bonhoeffer writes as follows;
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut-rate prices.

Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance. And because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.”
(D.Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1937, p47, 48).
He further continues;
“Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before…The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners ‘even in the best life’ as Luther said.” (Ibid.,46) 
“Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.” (Ibid.,46)

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"The greatest heresy raging within the church is," F. Kuruvilla* says, "antinomianism."

Antinomianism comes from the Greek word anomos, which means to be without or against the law.This word and its cognates are used 25 times in the NT. He continues as follows;
"Antinomianism can be defined as selective or partial obedience. The antinomian typically finds certain commands unpalatable or too difficult; those commands are ignored or explained away. Despite the selective obedience, the antinomian still professes allegiance to Jesus. They are convinced they are Jesus' followers." (F.Kuruvilla, King Jesus Claims His Church, p.107).
Now he observes the relationship between legalism and antinomianism. Please listen to what he says;
"While perhaps counterintuitive, even though the Pharisees set up many man-made laws, they denied God's laws and were called antinomian (Matt.23:28). Legalism may be defined as either' believing that one earns salvation by good works; or adding humanly devised commands and doctrines in order to gain God's favor. Either posture is dangerous. Legalism is no defense against antinomianism; legalism paradoxically fosters it." 
I think the point above is very important. The fact is that the real legalists and  the antinomians are actually friends!

Kuruvilla further explains that, Jesus prophesies that antinomianism will strengthen in the last days.
"'Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness [antinomianism] will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matt.24:11-12). Remarkably, the final antichrist is literally called the man of antinomianism, usually translated as man of lawlessness (2 Thess.2:3).  
Antinomianism is the final great heresy of humanity, as it shakes its fist against Jesus' reign. Because antinomianism opposes Jesus' kingship, antinomianism opposes the gospel itself." (Ibid.p 108).
So, dear headcovering sisters, take your heart! Please don't be discouraged by the opposers. Your fight is great but your reward is even greater!

*F.Kuruvilla. The son of missionaries to India, he graduated from Harvard Medical School where he served as a leader with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He and his family fellowship with the church Followers of the Way in Boston, Massachusetts.

See also Is Headcovering legalistic? (by Jeremy Gardiner)