Book Review for Mark Jones' book Antinomianism: Reformed Theology's Unwelcome Guest?

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The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member

The topic of antinomianism (a term Luther coined) has many difficulties when trying to define it. Dr. Mark Jones does a magnificent job laying the foundation for understanding the subject in historical context.

Approaching the subject he starts with the historical reasons why the term was coined and who it was that contended with the subject. He gives a fair balanced reading exposing the differences between various Lutheran, Reformed, and Independent theologians who tried to discover the impact of grace in the Christian life. He addresses concerns about legalism and shows that the Pharisees of Jesus time were antinomian (against the Law) by paying particular attention to obeying certain doctrines but neglecting the weightier issues of the law such as justice and mercy.

Dr. Jones works his way through the history of the Reformation and its writers as they struggle with the issue of antinomianism. A major factor that was helpful for me was how Dr. Jones proved that this doctrine should be driven by a proper understanding of Christology. A few years ago I heard Dr. Jack Kinneer from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary say, "All aberrations and heresies in theology tend to distort the doctrine of Christ." Dr. Jones sees this to be the case in this situation and directs us to look at the teachings of Christ as well as the teachings about Christ.

What do good works, reward, merit, the love of God and sin have to do with this topic? What are acceptable motivations for obedience to God? There is a lot of confusion concerning these issues now days. The Divine's (ordained men) from the period of the Reformation were greatly concerned about getting these issues correct as they had eternal ramifications. Dr. Jones does a splendid job shining the light of truth on these matters by helping us unclutter these issues by examining the Love relationship between the Father and the Son of God. Mark also discusses how our good works are required and pleasing to God. When we do sin does God love us any less? Does He love us any more when we obey in Christ? Drawing from the writings of the Reformers and scriptures like John 14:21,23 Mark reveals the teaching of God's benevolent love which never changes and God's complacent love which is based upon how we respond in obedience or disobedience.

Agree with Dr. Jones or not you will walk a way from the book understanding the historical components of the topic at hand. I personally got a lot of encouragement from the book to look more completely at Christ and to consider him as the book of Hebrews tells us to.

Hebrews 12:1-6 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth

typo on page 17
"pre-1925" surely means "pre-1525"
I order it on my kindle. The only problem is a have about five books ahead of it. But after reading your review I just might move it up.
Thanks for the review Randy. I just finished the book. A must read for pastors/elders to equip them to see the tenets of antinomianism being popularized today.
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