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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Antinominans and Libertines

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In his Loci Theologici, Blessed Martin Chemnitz deals with The Divine Law in Locus VIII, wherein he discusses the need to define what is meant by the term "Law" and how it is used in Sacred Scripture.  Using the term "Law" incorrectly, as Chemnitz notes, "has produced many significant and pernicious errors."  Chemnitz, then lists several errorists who have misused or redifined the Law by wrongly quoting the Scriptures, who of which are which are Antinominans and Libertines - 

The Antinomians because in Matt. 11:13 is says that "the Law was until John," contend that the teaching of the Decalog has no place under the new covenant.  The Libertines say that believers "are not under the Law," Gal. 5:18, and therefore they have the idea that believers ought not to learn from the Law concerning the good works in which they should walk, but rather let each do as the Spirit suggest to him (as they figure it out for themselves).   - Loci Theologici, trans. by JAO Preus, Vol. II. p.332

Chemnitz understands that the Antinominans and Libertines are very close in theological association.  The Antinomians think that the Law has no place under the new covenant.  The Libertines believe that the Law ought not be learned for good works, or as we would say, used.  This has important application regarding preaching because the Evangelical Lutheran Preacher should understand that the Law does have a use under the new covenant (unlike the Antinomians) and that his hearers are not to figure out how their lives are to be lived by themselves (unlike the Libertines).   

So the Law is used by the preacher in his preaching for the purpose of teaching the people of God the good works in which they should walk.  This 3rd Use preaching of the Law in the Lutheran parish does have its place - to show God's people how to live and to not leave them to their own devices trying to figure things out for themselves what good works really are.  In so doing the preacher follows the apostle who teaches, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

A Hat Tip to the Rev. Brian Kachelmeier for drawing my attention to this quotation from Blessed Martin Chemnitz.

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