What is Antinomianism?

by Peter Ditzel

The title page from a book by the English Puritan, Anthony Burgess, intended to vindicate the moral law from the “errours” of “especially” the Antinomians.

Antinomianism comes from the Greek anti, “against,” and nomos, “law.” Literally, it means “against law.” It is used to refer to a doctrine that centers on the belief that grace frees a Christian from the law. Detailed definitions differ. Yet, when a theologian labels someone an antinomian, he or she almost always intends it negatively or pejoratively. Antinomian is a dirty word in theological circles. But do those who fit some of the most common definitions of antinomian really deserve such scorn? Is what these definitions describe truly unbiblical? In this article, I want to discuss the most common definitions of antinomianism and compare them with the Bible. I also want to reveal their origin. Could it be that many of us sovereign grace, New Covenant believers fit the definitions of antinomian and don’t even realize it? Would that be a bad thing?