A Jagged Word


“Antinomianism is fake theology. In Luther’s picturesque way of putting it, it is a drama played in an empty theater. It is a theological playing with words: the attempt to get rid of, to change, to water down ‘the law’ – that which makes demands, attacks, accuses, or threatens us – by a theological tour de force, by changing words. One tries to end the law by erasing the offensive words or finding more accommodating ones, by changing definitions and usages, or more lately by shifting or just multiplying metaphors and symbols until the matter is obscured beyond recognition. One creates the illusion of escape from ‘the law’ by a verbal sleight of hand. That is where the problem arises, of course. The illusion of escape only imprisons all the more. Nothing is accomplished. The theater for the wordplay is empty.

“The root cause of antinomianism is failure to apprehend the gospel in its full eschatalogical sense. The point of the gospel is that ‘Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). Christ, not theology, is the end of the law to faith, experienced as new life from death, the breaking in of the eschaton. Where Christ is not grasped by faith as the end of the law, then we with our theology must take steps to put an end to law. We must attempt to banish law from the church or its preaching perhaps, by relegating it to the courthouse. Or we go through our theological books and erase law wherever it appears, thinking to accomplish something thereby. We think to give the gospel a boost by refusing to preach or talk about the law. But all that is simply a failure to understand what the gospel is and what it does.”

– Gerhard O. Forde, “The Preached God” (215)