Andrew Fuller Friday: On the Intersection of Legalism and Antinomianism

It has been said that every unregenerate sinner has the heart of a Pharisee. This is true; and it is equally true that every unregenerate sinner has the heart of an Antinomian. It is the character expressly given to the carnal mind, that it is “enmity against God;” and the proof of this is that it “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Nor is it surprising that these two apparently opposite principles should meet in the same mind. There is no more real opposition between them than there is between enmity and pride. Many a slothful servant hates his master and his service, and yet has pride and presumption enough to claim the reward. It is one thing to be attached to the law, and another to be of the works of the law. The former is what David and Paul, and all the true servants of God, have ever been, loving and delighting in it after the inner man; the latter is what the unbelieving Jews were; who, though they none of them kept the law, yet presumptuously expected eternal life for their supposed conformity to it. The quarrels between Antinomianism and Pharisaism arise, I think, more from misunderstanding than from any real antipathy between them. They will often unite, like Herod and Pontius Pilate, against the truth and true religion.

The spirit of Antinomianism is to fall out with the government of God, to raise objections against it as rigorous and cruel, to find excuses for sin committed against it, and to seize on every thing that affords the shadow of an argument for casting it off; but all this is common to every carnal mind. If our Antinomians could pay a visit to the heathens of Hindoostan, (and probably the same might be said of heathens in general,) they would find millions on millions of their own way of thinking.* Nor need they go so far from home: among the apostles of modern infidelity the same thing may be found in substance. The doctrine of necessity, as embraced by them,† reduces man to a machine, destroys his accountableness, and casts the blame of sin upon his Creator. The body of these systems may be diverse, but the spirit that animates them is the same.

Antinomianism, having annihilated moral obligation, might be expected to lead its votaries to the denial of sin; yet, strange as it may appear, there is scarcely any people who speak of their sins in such exaggerating language, or who make use of such degrading epithets concerning their character, as they. But the truth is, they have affixed such ideas to sin as divest it of every thing criminal, blameworthy, or humiliating to themselves. By sin they do not appear to mean their being or doing what they ought not to be or do, but something which operates in them without their concurrence. In all the conversations that I have had with persons who delight in thus magnifying their sins, I cannot recollect an instance in which they appeared to consider themselves as inexcusable, or indeed ever the worse on account of them. On the contrary, it is common to hear them speak of their sinful nature with the greatest levity, and, with a sort of cunning smile in their countenances, profess to be as bad as Satan himself; manifestly with the design of being thought deep Christians, thoroughly acquainted with the plague of their own heart.


Excerpt from: Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion Taught and Exemplified in the Holy Scriptures. Part 1 “Containing a Brief View of Antinomianism, with Arguments Against the Leading Principle form which it is Denominated.”

Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 744–745). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.

By |October 19th, 2018|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday|

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