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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)


  1. This was a wonderful, thought-provoking post, Kinuko!

    Lawlessness resulting from disregarding God's commands, and legalism resulting from exalting man-made doctrines. Yes, you are right! Jesus said that if we love Him, we will OBEY Him! The mark of a true believer is love for Jesus and others, combined with obedience to His will. That's not to say that we are perfect, or no longer have failings. God is continually working in us, forming us into His masterpiece. Our growth isn't entirely up to us, because God sustains us even in our weakness, but our growth DOES depend on us to some extent, in that we must be WILLING to obey Him when He asks.

    Thank you, Kinuko, for publishing this article!

    P.S. I was happy to hear that you went to the store to purchase stationary for making the Bible study notebook that I posted about. I hope it all works out for you! Pleas let me know as you go along, how you like it.

  2. Dear Jessica, thank you so much for your comment. Through you, God has been speaking to me. I had been struggling with these issues over the years. How can we survive in the midst of so many teachings? O God, please grant us the spirit of discernment and wisdom! Please protect us from wolves and foxes. Please fill us with the Spirit of Truth.

    Here I will quote Bonhoeffer’s remarks regarding “costly grace”. It is beautiful.

    “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.

    It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.

    Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us”(Ibid.,47).

    Let us keep pursuing the truth together!

  3. Kinuko, this is such an amazing post! Many churches in Canada and USA preach on on God's love; God is love. However they forget to talk about God's wrath and God's jugement. This creates inaccurate representation of our Lord.
    In turn, some of those people attack Christians who try their best to live according to Bible.

  4. Dear Irina, thank you so much for your response. I do appreciate your observation. Through books and Christian media, these teachings have been spreading everywhere and many have been deceived. Let us pray for each other to be faithful to Him and His words until the end! With love, Kinuko

  5. Dear Kinuko, I'm Sanae. I have read an article of one Japanese missionary saying that God's grace may be free of charge,but to obey Him costs highly. I remembered his article reading your post. Each of us have to pursue what God ask us to do.
    God bless you,ladies!

    1. Dear Sanae, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I am learning something new from you every day! Yes, you are right. Each of us have to pursue what God ask us to do. We can show our love to Him by doing what He commands us. And our Comforter (Holy Spirit) shall help us to obey His words. That's why, I think, Apostle John could say, "His commandments are not burdensome (I John 5:3 b)." The Spirit-filled love makes everything smooth and sweet.

      Lastly I'd like to share with you some beautiful verses from the "Imitation of Christ."(by Thomas a Kempis)

      "Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It makes every difficulty easy,and bears all wrongs with equanimity.

      For it bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all that is bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites
      longing for that which is more perfect.

      Love tends upward; it will not be held down by anything low. Love wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly affections, lest its inward
      sight be obstructed, lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity.

      Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all created things.

      One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.

      Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls."
      (Chapter 5 The wonderful effect of Divine Love, Internal Consolation)

    2. Dear Kinuko, thank you for reminding me of 'Imitation of Christ'! I also read it when I was young.The verses you introduced here also remind me of words of Therese de Lisieux..'Only valuable thing is love.'.

  6. So amazing, I just read 1 Corinthians 13. 'If I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have no love--I'm nothing!" Jesus said 'love your enemies' Love is often preached from pulpits, but not practised.
    It's so easy to love people who do good to us, but so hard to love those who wronged us.

    1. Dear Irina, you are right. It is so easy to talk about love but difficult to put it into practice. I often find lack of spiritual power in me to reach hungry and suffering souls. Apostle Peter's word is very sweet for me; Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart." (I Peter 1:22). Irina, I read your comment on Jessica's blog today, which moved me. You are a very soft-hearted sister and we love you so much. Kinuko

  7. Dear Brother & Sister

    It seems that you both are in earnest to be found among those on Jesus right hand at that great day of the Lord. We know from scripture that the moment anyone of us falls asleep, that is the coming of the Lord for us, and thus the words of the blessed apostle Peter; "... give diligence to make you calling and election sure.." I was very encouraged to see that you reject the 'antinomianism' (against law) of the modern day inventions of man called 'religion', which is not a new thing, but the same old 'Babel' of old that must fall to the ground. I wanted to offer a few appeals from a faithful defender of the faith, which you seem to have already been exposed to; William Law. I want to make clear, in agreement with brother Law, that his writings are completely unnecessary to those who are walking in the Spirit of Love, and can do nothing for anyone but lead them to the need to be born again of that Spirit, and truly have the Word of Life alive and governing all their thoughts and deeds. I have listed the treatises in chronological order as he made the appeal originally. I hope your husband and yourself will be built up in the most holy faith as you consider the appeal of a rare defender of the 'Faith once delivered' to the saints. Be aware that there is a fair share of slander and reproach against William Law, (I have read quite a few), but I haven't come across a single one that fairly conveys the entirety of his exhortations. Nothing out of the ordinary here; a strong believer in the false teaching of Calvin, always scoffs at the necessity of that "faith which worketh by love" although Jesus states ever so clearly that "he that loveth Me not, keepeth not my sayings." Will there be any souls on the right hand of Jesus that do not love Him according to His own revelation? Never! The Lord strengthen your commitment to be 'adorned in the inward man' which is in the sight of God, "of great value."

    1. The Grounds and Reason of Christian Regeneration
    2. The Spirit of Prayer
    3. The Way to Divine Knowledge
    4. The Spirit of Love
    5. An Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate address to the Clergy

    The Lord Prosper your Journey

  8. Dear friend, thank you for your comment and your encouragement. It seems to me that you are a serious truth-seeker. I hope I would be as well. Regarding William Law, yes, I also know that there are some criticisms due to his mystic tendency (influenced by Jacob Bohme 1575-1624) in his later life but nobody can deny his great influence over the 18-19th century Evangelical revival in UK and in the states (Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Henry Venn and William Wilberforce each described reading Law’s book, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”, as a major turning point in his life).

    Andrew Murray, a well-known Dutch reformed preacher referred to Law’s book (“The Power of the Spirit), “In all my reading I have never found anyone who has so helped me in understanding the Scripture truth of the work of the Holy Spirit.” Richard Foster said, “I am endlessly moved by the writing of William Law because he so obviously believed in prayer and was so utterly committed to living out his faith in the ordinary junctions of daily life.”

    Concerning the nature and extent of Christian devotion William Law says;

    “Devotion is neither private nor public prayer; but prayers, whether private or public, are particular parts or instances of devotion. Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted, to God. He, therefore, is the devout man, who lives no longer to his won will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety, by doing everything in the Name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to His glory.” (A Serious Call, p.1)

    Concerning the spirit of the world and the Spirit of Christ, he says;

    "This worldly spirit is the great net with which the Devil becomes a fisher of men; and every son of man, no matter how religious in outward forms and observances, is in this net until set free by the Spirit of Christ. Of all things therefore detest the spirit of this world, or you must live and die an utter stranger to all that is divine and heavenly.

    But do not look to or trust in any religious creed or ritual, nor in any human efforts at virtue to deliver you from the spirit of this world, or then you will only overcome one form of worldliness and lust by cleaving to another.

    For nothing renounces or can possibly overcome the spirit of the world but solely the Spirit of Christ. And herein lies the only hope for true revival and reformation in the Church-a total denial of self and the wisdom of man, to look wholly to the Holy Spirit to manifest once more the life and works of Christ through living members of His body upon this earth." (The Power of the Spirit, p.153-154)

    Thank you again for your remarks and your encouragement. May God bless your faith journey.