“Tullian Tchividjian commits the same errors as many seventeenth-century antinomians. He holds that “sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification.” This way of theologizing impacts his exegesis of Philippians 2:12–13. According to Tchividjian, “We’ve got work to do—but what exactly is it? Get better? Try harder? Pray more? Get more involved in church? Read the Bible longer? What precisely is Paul exhorting us to do?”
Tchividjian’s answer: “God works his work in you, which is the work already accomplished by Christ. Our hard work, therefore, means coming to a greater understanding of his work.” How does this fit with Paul’s exhortation to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Paul surely did not reduce Christian living to contemplating Christ—after all, in 1 Thessalonians 5, toward the end of the chapter, Paul lists over fifteen imperatives. But Tchividjian’s type of antinomian-sounding exegesis impacts churches all over North America. Of course, he also uses antinomian-sounding rhetoric himself. In his view, “a lot of preaching these days has been unwittingly, unconsciously seduced by moralism.” He adds, “So many contemporary sermons strengthen this slavery to self. ‘Do more, try harder’ is the constant refrain.” In fact, “Many sermons today provide nothing more than a ‘to do’ list…. It’s all law and no gospel (what Jesus has done).”
This may well be true, though I suspect that the last part is overstated. But Tchividjian’s theology is not the solution to the problem of moralism. Swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction has never effectively combated error. True, for a time, people may feel refreshed, but eventually the initial boost of the “Pepsi” begins to cause damage if that is the sum total of the preaching diet they are under! Sanctification is not “simply” the art of getting used to our justification, however appealing that dictum may sound.”
“In addressing the issue of rewards, Owen responds to the criticism that “to yield holy obedience unto God with respect unto rewards and punishments is servile, and becomes not the free spirit of the children of God.” Owen could perhaps have listed several prominent antinomian theologians who never tired of making this point. John Eaton, for example, castigates legal preachers for extorting good works out of saints by “hope of rewards.” This objection has again surfaced in our day, with even Michael Horton claiming that fear of punishment and hope of rewards, as “a sound motivation for Christian holiness” , is a “disastrous pattern of thinking.” If fear of punishment and hope of reward provide the only motivation for holy living, then Horton certainly makes a valid point. However, this is yet another area where the Christian life is both-and, not either-or, on the matter of motivation. The fact is, one will have a difficult time finding many classically Reformed theologians denying that Christians should hope for rewards as a motivation for holiness.”
–From Mark Jones’ “Antinomianism”
For years now I’ve been screaming about what I have called “public square antinomianism,” a component aspect of R2K. Now a book has come out that has substantiated my “Canary in the Coalmine” routine. Dr. Mark Jones takes on the antinomianism that is oozing out of the putatively Reformed Church. This quote above is dealing the New-Calvinism sported by types like Tullian Tchividjian but the book exposes the antinomianism we find rampant in many quarters today. The spirit of John Saltmarsh and Tobias Crisp lives on in much of the Reformed Church today.
Jones is so serious about this endeavor that recently he put out a video savagely and righteously mocking the White Horse Inn crew for their latent antinomianism. Since then that video has been pulled. You can get in a great deal of trouble for tweaking the nose of the Reformed Establishment. In the video Jones was wearing skinny tight pink jeans while sporting a bottle of Whiskey. He even “accidentally” said “White Horse Inn” in his commentary covering it up with a “er uh, I mean … ” He was mocking the libertinism of the antinomian crew.
Dr. Mark Jones gets it and understands the stakes of this new public square antinomianism. Still, with all the evidence there is Jones has to pull his punches because of the influence of the antinomian establishment. He says of Tchividjian “he uses antinomian sounding rhetoric himself” and references Tchividjian antinomian sounding exegesis. That is extraordinarily diplomatic and is a tip of the cap towards the powerful influence of the antinomian establishment.
Here’s hoping his book will help many other people get it.
And in the context of this post, this should be kept in mind.