“Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Rom. 3:31

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Jn. 14:15

“Follow…  holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Heb. 12:14



Order of Contents

.     Quotes
.     Where to Start
.     For the Advanced
Eternal Justification
The Reformation Origins of the 3rd Use of the Law
The History of Antinomianism
.     Short Overview
.     1500’s – Lutheranism
.     1600’s – England
.     1600’s – New England
.     1700’s





“I suspect that, after all, there is only one heresy, and that is Antinomianism.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
Free Church of Scotland


Antinomianism is rife today in Christian evangelicalism.

‘Anti’ means ‘against’ and ‘nomos’ means ‘the law’; hence antinomianism means ‘against the law’, as antinomians do not believe that God’s Moral Law is morally binding or of use to believers.

While we are not in any way justified and made right by the Law before God, antinomianism is contrary to the Biblical and historic reformed doctrine of the 3rd use of the Law, that God’s Law is good (Prov. 4:2; Rom. 7:12), is a guide and light for the Christian to discern God’s will in sanctification (Prov. 6:23, Rom. 2:18), something the Christian is to delight in (Ps. 1:2; 40:8, 119:74; Rom. 7:22) and that God’s Law is morally binding upon us, it being something that we ought to keep out of thankfulness and love unto God by the power of his Holy Spirit (Heb. 8:10, Phil. 2:13).

All creatures everywhere, as long as they are creatures and God is the Lord, are ethically bound to observe God’s moral will for his creatures, which is summarized in the objective standard of the Ten Commandments.  Love, the great exampled injunction given to us by our Lord Jesus (Jn. 15:12; Mk. 12:29-31), does not work contrary to the 10 Commandments, but fulfills the Law to God and our neighbor (James 2:8;.Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:8,10).

Many of the resources below are geared towards classic, hyper-Calvinist Antinomianism from the 1600’s.  While such views are not common today, they are still around and present a trap to stay away from.  It is worth your time to become acquainted with the subtleties of these errors, as it will give you a much more full, careful and mature understanding and love for the truth as it is in Jesus.  Some classic antinomian errors, besides wholly throwing out the unchanging Moral Law of God, include:

– that the Mosaic Law cannot be distinguished into moral, judicial and ceremonial aspects, and is wholly abrogated
– that the Mosaic Covenant was not fundamentally the Covenant of Grace
– eternal justification (contrary to Rom. 5:1-11)
– Utter Depravity instead of Total Depravity, and that after conversion Christians remain in this condition
– that regeneration is not an actual change of heart in the believer
– that a Christian can never do anything that is good
– that good works are not necessary to go to heaven (see Heb. 12:14; Eph. 1:4WLC #154, etc.)
– that God is never wrathful towards the elect before conversion or angry with Christians after conversion due to sin, or that He ever disciplines them
– turning sanctification into justification, just as Romanists turn justification into sanctification
– that not only were sins legally imputed to Christ on the cross, but that Christ actually became sinful on the cross
– that God will not reward good works in heaven

In the statement at the beginning of this Introduction that antinomianism is the only heresy, Rabbi Duncan meant that almost every error can be traced back to a devaluing of God’s Law.  In casting out the full place of God’s Law:

– Legalists make up their own laws to replace the vacuum;
– Pelagians believe they can keep the Law of God enough to earn their salvation;
– Liberals don’t believe salvation has to be earned, and hence one can go to heaven without God’s justice being satisfied by an atonement;
– Romanists believe a Christian’s imperfect works in part merit their salvation;
– Neo-nomians believed that New Testament grace made the Law easier to keep for our salvation;
– Arminians believe that their faith in part contributes to the merit by which they are saved;
– Perfectionists define ‘sinless’, contrary to God’s Law, as a believer being without known sin;
– Charismatics divorce the Spirit, and sinning against Him, from the objective Law of God in the Word as the standard for ethics;
– The Federal Vision, Norman Shepherd and the New Perspective on Paul, in various ways, believe we are justified by our imperfect covenant faithfulness and works;

Those who are weak on God’s Law, will be soft on sin and our native depravity.  Those who are soft on sin will consequently be soft on Christ’s redemption from sin.  And to be soft on redemption and Christ’s perfect righteousness to save destitute sinners, is the evisceration of Christianity.

Yet, with a full view of the blinding perfection of God’s Law and our obligation to keep it in full, personally, spiritually, perfectly and perpetually, these errors vanish away.  We are left with a Law as holy as God Himself, that no sinful creature can possibly fulfill this to the full glory of God.  Hence salvation must be wholly of the Lord: He provides an atonement which fully meets the demands of his Law and fully merits its blessings, we adding nothing to it but the sin that we need to be delivered from.

In sanctification, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are freed from the tyranny of men and find God’s Law a sufficient rule for our conduct, revealing the Will of God to us, it being a ‘law of liberty’ (James 1:25; 2:12) turned to our blessing (Ps. 1:1-3; 1 Kings 2:3; Jn. 15:10; 14:21; Rev. 2:26; 22:7).  In order to make God’s Law a light to your path, see the many, good, Expositions of the Ten Commandments.

May the resources below be a faithful guard to you as you learn from the watchmen of God’s Church of older ages how not to deviate from Scriptural truth to the left or to the right.



Quotes on Antinomianism

J.C. Ryle

“Obedience is faith visible, faith acting and faith manifest.  Obedience is the test of real discipleship among the Lord’s people.”


John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

“They say that ‘believers have nothing to do with the law.’  Is there not a kingdom, and is not God a great King? and how can there be a kingdom without a law?  They are God’s friends, and God and they are of the same mind, but are they not his subjects?”

“One kind of Antinomianism says nothing but ‘Come’; another kind refuses to say ‘Come’; the last is the worst of the two, because it lays no responsibility on the sinner.”

“It is our duty to fix the eyes on the Lamb of God, blind or not blind.”

“I fear I have been a practical Antinomian, thinking and not doing.”


Ralph Erskine

“When once the fiery law of God
Has chas’d me to the gospel road;
Then back unto the holy law
Most kindly gospel-grace will draw.”



Where to Start?


Brooks, Richard – ‘Antinomianism, Part 2’  2005  23 paragraphs  Brooks discusses: Jer. 31; Mt. 5; Rom. 6; Jn. 1 & the 4th Commandment.

Clark, Gordon – ‘The Christian and the Law’  1957  3 pp.

Kevan, Ernest – ‘The Law not Abrogated by Christ to Believers’  24 paragraphs

Calvin, John – Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2

Section 12 – ‘The Third Use of the Law’  1 p.
Section 13 – ‘The Profane Heresy of the Antinomians must be Exploded’  1 p.
Sections 14-17 – ‘Of the Abrogation of the Law, in what Respect’  5 pp.



Waldron, Sam – Easy Christianity

Jones, Mark – Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest?  Preview  Buy  2013  176 pp.



Bolton, Samuel – The True Bounds of Christian Freedom: Or a Treatise wherein the rights of the Law are Vindicated, the liberties of grace maintained; and the several late opinions against the Law are examined and confuted  Buy  1656  400 pp.

Kevan, Ernest – The Grace of the Law: a Study of Puritan Theology  Buy  294 pp.



For the Advanced

Witsius, Herman – Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain under the Unhappy Names of Antinomians and Neonomians  345 pp.

Rutherford, Samuel – A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, Opening the Secrets of Familism and Antinomianism  IA  1648  Part 1 gives the history of Antinomianism, part 2 refutes its distinctive tenets.



Articles on Antinomianism


Calvin, John – Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2

Section 12 – ‘The Third Use of the Law’  1 p.
Section 13 – ‘The Profane Heresy of the Antinomians must be Exploded’  1 p.
Sections 14-17 – ‘Of the Abrogation of the Law, in what Respect’  5 pp.



Edwards, Thomas – ‘A Hymn which some of the Antinomians do sing at their meetings instead of David’s Psalms’  1646  in The first and second part of Gangræna, or, A catalogue and discovery of many of the errors, heresies, blasphemies and pernicious practices of the sectaries of this time, vented and acted in England in these four last years

Gataker, Thomas

A Mistake, or Misconstruction, Removed. (Whereby little difference is pretended to have been acknowledged between the Antinomians and us.) And, Free grace, as it is held forth in Gods Word, as well by the prophets in the Old Testament, as by the apostles and Christ himself in the New, shewed to be other then is by the Antinomian party in these times maintained. In way of answer to some passages in a treatise of Mr. John Saltmarsh, concerning that subject  ToC  1646

Antinomianism Discovered and Confuted, and Free-Grace as it is held forth in God’s Word as well by the prophets in the Old Testament, as by the apostles and Christ Himself in the New, showed to be other than is by the Antinomian-party in these times maintained  1652  43 pp.

Bolton, Samuel – ‘Against Antinomianism’  5 paragraphs  in The True Bounds of Christian Freedom

Clarke, Samuel – Ch. 11, ‘Questions and Cases of Conscience about Some of the Antinomian Errors’  1659  9 pp.  in Medulla Theologiae, or the Marrow of Divinity contained in Sundry Questions and Cases of Conscience, pp. 89-98

This Samuel Clarke (1599-1682) was a reformed, puritan in the Church of England and a writer of ecclesiastical biographies.  He is to be distinguished from the Bible Annotator Samuel Clarke (1626–1701), who was a non-conformist and had Baxterian influences.

Flavel, John – ‘III. Of the Conditionality of the New Covenant’  being pp. 348-356 of Vindiciae Legis et Foederis, or a Reply to Mr. Philip Carey’s Solemn Call in Works, vol. 6



Trail, Robert – A Vindication of the Protestant Doctrine Concerning Justification, and of its preachers and professors, from the unjust charge of Antinomianism  †1732  32 pp.  See two relevant excerpted articles from this work here and here.

Trail was an orthodox Church of Scotland minister during the early 1700’s.  This may be the best, brief, elucidation and defense of the protestant doctrine of justification ever penned.

Hill, Rowland – Friendly Remarks Occasioned by the Spirit and Doctrines Contained in the Rev. Mr. Fletcher’s Vindication, and more Particularly in his Second Check to Antinomianism  1772  71 pp.  This is a letter to John William Fletcher

Fletcher was a Wesleyan [Arminian] Anglican who wrote multiple volumes against Antinomianism, as well as writing a volume asserting and defending Perfectionism, that Christians can reach a plateau of sinlessness in this life from known sin.

Rowland Hill was an influential Calvinistic Methodist in the Anglican Church who was orthodox.

Toplady, Augustus – ‘A Description of Antinomianism’  12 paragraphs



Fuller, Andrew – ‘Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion of the Holy Scriptures’  24 pp.  in Works, 2.737-761

Hall, Robert – ‘A Preface to Antinomianism Unmasked by the Rev. Samuel Chase’  1819  7 pp.  in Works, 2.458-464  Chase’s work is here.

Thornwell, James H. – ‘Antinomianism’  12 paragraphs



Kevan, Ernest – ‘The Law not Abrogated by Christ to Believers’  24 paragraphs

Young, William – ’20 Statements Characteristic of Antinomianism’  in ‘Antinomianism’ in The Encyclopedia of Christianity  Buy  ed. Edwin Palmer.  This is only an excerpt, the whole article is excellent.



Ferguson, Sinclair – “What is the Opposite of Antinomianism?”  2016  2 paragraphs from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters  Buy

Gerstner, John – ‘The Antinomian Way of Justification’  2010  28 paragraphs

Phillips, Rick – ‘Thank God that Christians are not Totally Depraved’  2012  11 pp.

Batzig, Nick – ‘Legalism and Antinomianism: the Two Gospel Thieves’  2013  29 paragraphs



Books on Antinomianism


Calvin, John – Sermons on Ps. 119  Buy  



Taylor, Thomas – Regula Vitæ: the Rule of the Law under the Gospel. Containing a discovery of the pestiferous sect of libertines, antinomians, and sons of Belial, lately sprung up both to destroy the law, and disturb the faith of the Gospel: wherein is manifestly proved, that God sees sin in justified persons  1631  234 pp.

Burton, Henry – The Law and the Gospel Reconciled, or the Evangelical Faith, and the Moral Law, how they stand together in the state of grace, A treatise showing the perpetual use of the moral law under the Gospel to believers; in answer to a letter written by an antinomian to a faithful Christian…  A brief catalogue of the Antinomian doctrines  Preview  Buy  1643  

Burton was a reformed puritan.

Anonymous – The Second Part of the Undeceiver: tending to the discovery of some Prelatical and Antinomian errors; and the clearing of that part of the late covenant of the three kingdoms which concerns both  ToC  1643

Bakewell, Thomas – A Short View of the Antinomian Errors with a brief and plain answer to them…  ToC  1643

Bakewell was a reformed puritan.

Sedgwick, John – Antinomianism Anatomized. Or, A glass for the lawless: who deny the ruling use of the moral law unto Christians under the gospel  ToC  Kindle  1643  53 pp.

Fisher, Edward – The Marrow of Modern Divinity…  wherein every one may clearly see how far forth he [that] brings the law into the case of justification, so deserves the name of Legalist, and how far forth he rejects the law, in the case of sanctification, and so deserves the name of Antinomist, with the middle path between them both, which by Jesus Christ leads to eternal life, in a dialogue, between Evangelista, a minister of the Gospel, Nomista, a legalist, Antinomista, an Antinomian, and Neophytus, a young Christian  1645  with notes by Thomas Boston

Gataker, Thomas  †1654

God’s Eye on His Israel, or, A passage of Balaam, out of Num. 23:21…  Expounded and cleared from Antinomian abuse, with application to the present estate of things with us  1645  150 pp.

“On the English Antinomianism, see further, Gataker, God’s Eye on Israel (Lond. 1645, 4to); Antidote against Error (London, 1670, 4to);” – McClintock & Strong

An Antidote Against Error concerning Justification, or, The true notion of justification, and of justifying faith, cleared by the light of scripture, and solid reason, from several mistakes of the words, which misapprehensions prove the seeds of dangerous errors  1670

Bedford, Thomas – An Examination of the Chief Points of Antinomianism  1647  72 pp.

Bedford (†1653) was reformed.

Rutherford, Samuel

A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, Opening the Secrets of Familism and Antinomianism  IA  1648  Part 1 gives the history of Antinomianism, part 2 refutes its distinctive tenets.

The Trial And Triumph Of Faith: or An Exposition of the History of Christ’s Dispossessing of the Daughter of the Woman of Canaan.
Delivered in Sermons; In which are opened,The Victory of Faith; The condition of those that are tempted; The excellency of Jesus
Christ and Free-Grace; and Some specially Grounds and Principles of Libertinism and Antinomian Errors, discovered  1645  See the table of contents and search for ‘antinomian’

Burgess, Anthony

Vindiciæ Legis: or, a Vindication of the Moral Law and the Covenants, from the Errors of papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially, Antinomians in 30 Lectures  EEBO  The table of contents is on p. 18 of the PDF

The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted and Vindicated, from the Errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and More Especially Antinomians  EEBO

Bolton, Samuel – The True Bounds of Christian Freedom: Or a Treatise wherein the rights of the Law are Vindicated, the liberties of grace maintained; and the several late opinions against the Law are examined and confuted  Buy  1656  400 pp.

Flavel, John – A Blow at the Root of Antinomianism  Hathi  124 pp.

Humfrey, John – The Middle-way in one paper of the Covenants, Law and Gospel: with indifferency between the Legalist & Antinomian  ToC  1674

Williams, Daniel – Gospel-Truth Stated and Vindicated: wherein some of Dr. Crisp’s Opinions are considered, and the opposite truths are plainly stated and confirmed 1692  250 pp.

Williams (c.1643–1716) was an English presbyterian and influential dissenter from the Church of England.

“Richard Baxter [who had previously opposed antinomianism, but was a neonomian] died in 1691.  His successor as unofficial leader of those who taught a moderated Calvinism was a Welshman, Daniel Williams…” – Peter Toon

Edwards, John – Crispianism Unmask’d, or, A Discovery of the several erroneous assertions and pernicious doctrins maintain’d in Dr. Crisp’s sermons occasion’d by the reprinting of those discourses  ToC

Edwards was an orthodox, reformed, Anglican divine.

Edwards, Thomas – A Short Review of some Reflections made by a nameless author [i.e. John Edwards, D.D.] upon Dr Crisp’s sermons, in a piece, entitled Crispianism Unmask’d. With some remarks upon the union in the late agreement in doctrin among the Dissenting Ministers in London  1693  37 pp.

This Edwards was the son of the more well-known Thomas Edwards during the Westminster era in England.

Various – A Declaration of the Congregational Ministers, in and about London, against Antinomian Errors, and ignorant and scandalous persons intruding themselves into the ministry  1699  63 pp.

Anonymous – A Censure of Three Scandalous Pamphlets: I. A defense of Dr. Crisp against the charge of Mr. [John] Edwards of Cambridg, by Esquire Edwards in Wales, II. Reflections on the authors of the late Congregational declaration against Antinomianism, and trepidantium malleus, by the A. Club, III. A sermon preached Jan. 30. last, by Canon Gilbert in Plimouth with a tedious preface of Mr. J.Y.  ToC  1699

Young, Samuel – A New-Years-Gift for the Antinomians particularly Mr. Malebranch Crisp, or, as he foolishly, and yet often (but truly stiles himself the unworthy branch of Dr. Crisp who hath wickedly attempted to underprop a rotten cause of his father, by notorious forgeries, concerning Mr. Baxter, Mr. How, and Dr. Bates, as justifiers of Dr. Crisp as an orthodox man, and no Antinomian: in a rhapsody, entitled, Christ exalted, and Dr. Crisp defended; against the reverend Mr. Alsop…  ToC  1699  

This work is against the work of Samuel Crisp, referenced here, who defended his father, Tobias Crisp, while citing many other reformed divines.



Witsius, Herman – Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain under the Unhappy Names of Antinomians and Neonomians  345 pp.

Bellamy, Joseph — True Religion Delineated; or, Experimental Religion, as distinguished from formality on the one hand, and enthusiasm on the other, set in a scriptural and rational light: in two discourses, in which some of the principal errors both of the Arminians and Antinomians are confuted  1750  428 pp.

Bellamy was a New England congregationalist minister and leading theologian in the second half of the 1700’s.  He had studies under Jonathan Edwards, 



Fuller, Andrew

The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation or, the Duty of Sinners to Believe in Jesus Christ  Buy  226 pp.  See a summary of this work.

Defence of the “Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation”  92 pp.  in Reply to Mr. Button and Philanthropos  in Works, 2.417-510

Cottle, Joseph – Strictures on the Plymouth Antinomians  1823  111 pp.

“The heresy showed itself at a later period, especially through the influence of Dr. Robert Hawker (q.v.), vicar of Charles the Martyr, Plymouth, who was a very popular preacher [and wrote a popular devotional commentary on the Bible], and “poisoned the surrounding region” with Antinomian tendencies. Against him, Joseph Cottle wrote Strictures on the Plymouth Antinomians, and Burt, Observations on Hawker’s System of Theology. See Robert Hall, Works (N. Y. 2:458); Bennett, History of the Dissenters, p. 344.” – McClintock & Strong



Waldron, Sam – Easy Christianity

Alderson, Richard – No Holiness, No Heaven: Antinomianism Today  Buy  1986  116 pp.

Jones, Mark – Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest?  Preview  Buy  2013  176 pp.



Eternal Justification


Eternal Justification, that the elect are justified from eternity and through their whole lives are legally righteous before God, is the first stepping stone to hyper-calvinistic antinomianism.

In Rom. 5:1-11, the context is explicitly about justification.  The passage says that the elect person is under the common judicial wrath of God (Rom. 5:8-10) until they are converted and are only justified upon the instrument of faith, which occurs in time.  Then, and only then, according to Rom. 5:1, does a person have peace with God.

The near-only proof-texts used for eternal justification are Eph. 1:3-4 & Rom. 9:7-23.  Upon these passages it is claimed that the elect person is never under the wrath or legal judgment of God for sin.  These passages, however, in context, speak of eternal election, not of justification, which two things are very different in many particulars:

God’s decree of election is an eternal, free, unconditioned act of God, whereas justification is a temporal, instantaneous, legal imputation upon the instrumental condition of faith, arising necessarily from a personal union to Christ, etc.  Compare Westminster Larger Catechism #12 & 70.

Eternal Justification breeds many further erroneous corollaries, such as:

– that elect persons are never under the Covenant of Works in Adam;
– that the Covenant of Grace is wholly eternal and is in no way conditional (contra WLC #32);
– that God only loves the elect and only hates reprobate creatures;
– that for assurance one is to simply wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal to them that they are elect and hence justified already;
– that faith is simply a passive recognition of this, has no active quality, and is not an instrument of receiving Christ;
– that sanctification is wholly forensic and instantaneous, not a real change and progressive, etc.

The Westminster Confession, 11.4 pre-empted this cesspool of errors in stating that:

“God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect;[l] and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:[m] nevertheless they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them.[n]

[l] Gal. 3:8. 1 Pet. 1:2,19,20. Rom. 8:30
[m] Gal. 4:4. 1 Tim. 2:6. Rom. 4:25
[n] Col. 1:21,22. Gal. 2:16. Tit. 3:3-7

God’s eternal decree is to justify believers in time.




Ames, William – Section 9 of Ch. 27, ‘Of Justification’  1639  1 page  in The Marrow of Sacred Divinity

Rutherford, Samuel

‘Justification not Eternal’  1645  6 pp.  in The Trial and Triumph of Faith, Sermon 24, pp. 358-363

‘Christ’s Satisfaction Performed on the Cross for Sin is not Formally Justification, but Only Causatively, Fundamentally, or Meritoriously’  1645  4 pp.  in The Trial and Triumph of Faith, Sermon 18, pp. 210-213

Bedford, Thomas – Ch. 3, ‘A Brief Answer to the Arguments of H. D. by him brought to prove Justification before Faith, i. e. before the act of Believing’  1647   pp.  in An Examination of the Chief Points of Antinomianism

Woodbridge, Benjamin – ‘Justification by Faith: or, a Confutation of that Antinomian Error, that Justification is before Faith; being the sum & substance of a sermon’  ToC  1652

Woodbridge (1622-1684) was a reformed puritan.

Burgess, Anthony – Lectures 20-22, ‘Whether Pardon of Sin be Immanent or Transient Act of God, and whether it be Antecedent to our Faith and Repentance.  The Contrary Proved, viz. that God does not Justify or Pardon us Before we Believe and Repent’  1655  32 pp.  in The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted and Vindicated, from the Errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and More Especially Antinomians  EEBO  pp. 185-216

Lawson, George – p. 304 of Ch. 22, ‘Of Justification by Faith in Christ’  1659  2 paragraphs  in Theo-Politica, or, a Body of Divinity containing the Rules of the Special Government of God  Buy

Dickson, David – pp. 92-93 of Ch. 11, ‘Of Justification’  1662  2 pp.  in Truth’s Victory Over Error: or the True Principles of the Christian Religion  Buy  being the first positive commentary on the Westminster Confession.

Owen, John – Ch. 5, ‘About Justification before Believing’  †1683  3 pp.  in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, in Works, 10.449-451

Flavel, John – ‘Appendix 2, Error 1’  1691  13 pp.  in Planelogia: A Blow at the Root of Antinomianism  Here is an easier to read version.

McKelvy, Robert – “‘That Error and Pillar of Justification’: Eternal Justification”  Preview  being ch. 10 of Drawn into Controversie: Reformed Theological Diversity and Debates within Seventeenth-Century British Puritanism  Buy  pp. 223-62



Edwards, John – p. 782 of Theologia Reformata: or, The Body and Substance of the Christian Religion, vol. 1  1713

John Edwards (1637–1716) was a reformed Anglican, the son of Thomas Edwards, who wrote the famed book ‘Gangraena’ in the 1640’s.

Dixon, Anthony – ‘Eternal Justification Unmasked, being the substance of a sermon’  1790  24 pp.  Printed in England.

This sermon is excellent.  The sermon is on Abraham being justified by works, according to James 2:21.  Dixon takes it in the traditional Protestant sense, that believers’ works declare and demonstrate them to be just, contra those who say that they are justified but have no works to prove it.



Fuller, Andrew – pp. 759-760 of Antinomianism Contrasted with the Religion Taught and Exemplified in the Holy Scriptures  †1815  2 pp.  in Works, vol. 2 of 3, pp. 759-760

Girardeau, John – pp. 101-107 of ‘The Federal Theology: its Import and its Regulative Influence’  1884  7 pp.  in Memorial Volume of the Semi-Centennial of the Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina

Girardeau, a southern presbyterian minister and professor, is especially helpful in delineating how Christ’s seed were virtually justified in Christ at the cross and Resurrection.

Buchanan, James – pp. 251-252 of Lecture , ‘Justification; the Proper Nature of the Blessing’  1867  2 pp.  in The Doctrine of Justification

Bavinck, Herman – ‘Justification in Time or Eternity?’  6 pp.  in Reformed Dogmatics, 4.214-219

Bavinck is especially helpful on the Dutch context, in contrast to Alexander Comrie and Abraham Kuyper who affirmed a certain eternal justification.



Pink, A.W. – Ch. 7, ‘Its Objects’  19 paragraphs  in The Doctrine of Justification

Berkhof, Louis – ‘Eternal Justification’  1950  31 paragraphs  from Systematic Theology



Zaspel, Fred – ‘The Doctrine of Eternal Justification: a Critique’  n.d.  14 paragraphs

Zaspel is a reformed baptist minister.

Fahy, Paul – ‘The Controversy Over the Doctrine of Eternal Justification’  2005  35 pp.  Appendix 1 on p. 13 is ‘Argued Texts’, App. 2 on p. 17 is ‘Quotes from Eminent Theologians’ and App. 3 on p. 29 is ‘The Arguments of John Gill for a Complete Eternal Justification’.

The theologians quoted against Eternal Justification in Appendix 2 are:

Turretin, Berkouwer, C. Buck, J.P. Boyce, A.A. Hodge, Calvin, Owen, A.W. Pink, T. Goodwin, Flavel, Ames, Spurgeon, Beeke, A’brakel, Thornwell, Buchanan, Schwertley & Berkhof.

Ditzel, Peter – ‘A Rebuttal to George M. Ella’s “John Gill and Justification from Eternity”’  2009  23 pp.

Ditzel is a particular baptist.



John Murray

‘Justification’  in Collected Writings, vol. 2, p. 203

“Justification is not the eternal decree of God with respect to us, nor is it the finished work of Christ for us, when once-for-all He reconciled us to God by his death; nor is it the regenerative work of God in us, nor is it any activity on our part in response to and embrace of the gospel, but it is an act of God, accomplished in time wherein God passes judgment with respect to us as individuals.¹

¹ Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, 1867, pp. 251-252



The Reformation Origins of the 3rd Use of the Law

The Three Biblical Uses of God’s Law (memorize them):

1.  To show us our sin and to drive sinners to Christ;  the Pedagogical Use.
2.  To restrain sin in unbelievers and believers alike; the Civil Use.
3.  To be a guide for the Christian in the will of God; the Moral Use.


Wengert, Timothy – Law and Gospel: Philip Melanchthon’s Debate with John Agricola of Eisleben Over Poenitentia [Repentance]  Buy  (1997), Ch. 6, ‘Justifying Good Work: The Origins of the Concept of the Third Use of the Law (1534)’, pp. 177, 185, 191-3, 195-6, 200, 206

“In 1534 Philip Melancthon, perhaps in conjunction with lectures on Colossians delivered around the same time, produced a third edition of the Scholia.  In it for the first time, he increased the number of functions, or uses, of the law from two to three…

…It involved the persistent emphasis on the necessity of good works…

…The notion that the law has uses or functions is a peculiarly Protestant concept with origins deep within Martin Luther’s theology.  Gerhard Ebeling has demonstrated how the distinction between law and gospel and Luther’s insistence that God works on human beings through the Word resulted in Luther developing a twofold use of the Law…

…Definitions of two uses of the law first appeared in an exposition of the epistle lesson for New Year’s Day; this sermon was published in 1522 as part of Luther’s Weihnachtspostil and seen through the presses by Melancthon.

Luther never saw a need to increase the uses of the law above two and thus create a separate use for believers…  For Luther, the human being encountered the law in the two realms of human existence: coram Deo [before the presence of God] and coram hominibus [before the presence of men].  Thus, there was never any need for more than two uses of the law.  In his theology the law never had an independent existence that demanded definition, but it was always a part of the human encounter with God.

The 1527 and 1528 Scholia were the first publications in which Melancthon explicitly defined two functions of the law…

…in 1534 Melancthon altered this section [of his Scholia on Col. 2:17] to read: “…God gave the law for these three reasons: to coerce the flesh and to terrify or humble.  The third reason pertains to the righteous, that they may practice obedience.”…

…The conscience, made good by God’s gracious declaration, must by necessity use the law to please God.  No wonder Melancthon’s theology now needed a third use of the law!

For what reasons did this shift occur in Melancthon’s theology?  As Rolf Schafer and others have pointed out, Melancthon’s focus on the law and its third use actually had its roots in his earliest published theology…  But the very fact that Melancthon somehow felt constrained to change these earlier comments to reflect even more clearly his developing position suggests that something must have happened in the meantime.

A crucial factor is the memory of Melancthon’s encounter with John Agricola.  There is little doubt that Agricola’s denigration of the Decalogue–itself a reaction to Melancthon’s theology–caused Melancthon to strengthen his defense of the role of the law in the Christian’s life…

There was no question, too, that some of the changes in the Scholia–one thinks particularly of the third use of the law–were refined by Melancthon in his second edition of the Loci [Common Places] and in turn employed by a young French exile, John Calvin, in the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion [1536].”



The History of Antinomianism

Short Overview

McClintock & Strong’s Cyclopedia


“The chief English writers of the 17th century who have been charged as favoring Antinomianism, besides Crisp, are Richardson, Saltmarsh, Hussey, Eaton, Town, etc.’  These were answered by Gataker, Witsius, Bull, Ridgely, and especially by Baxter and Williams.”

‘Tobias Crisp’

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation – ‘Antinomianism’  in vol. 1, pp. 51-53  This article covers the era from the beginning of the Reformation till 1580


1500’s – Lutheranism

Wengert, Timothy – Law and Gospel: Philip Melanchthon’s Debate with John Agricola of Eisleben Over Poenitentia [Repentance]  Buy  1997  232 pp.

John Agricola was one of the first prominent antinomians at the Reformation.  This work surveys the debates between him, Luther and Melancthon in early Lutheranism.  The last chapter is on the origins of the 3rd Use of the Law.  For some info on the Lutheran context see point 2 of McClintock’s article: ‘Antinomianism’.

Bente, F. – Ch. 17 – ‘The Antinomistic Controversy’  47 paragraphs  in Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions

An excellent scholarly survey of the debates in early Lutheranism.

Rutherford, Samuel – Part 1, chs. 10-14 of A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, Opening the Secrets of Familism and Antinomianism  IA  1648


1600’s – England

Bozeman, Theodore – The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638  Buy  2004  366 pp.

Nelson, Robert – ‘About the Antinomian Controversy’  1816  15 pp.  in The Life of Dr. George Bull, pp. 208-222

“A full account of the Antinomians of the Crispian type, and of the controversy about it, is given in Nelson, Life of Bishop Bull (vol. 7 of Bull’s Works, ed. of 1827).” – McClintock & Strong

Bull (1634-1710) was an influential Arminian, Latitudinarian, Anglican and controversialist who had tri-theistic views of God.

Harville, Misty – Seventeenth Century Mudslinging: The Debate Over Free Grace and the Sermons of Dr. Tobias Crisp  2010  28 pp.  being a senior thesis for the Bachelors in history at the University of North Carolina, Asheville

Aronld, Jonathan – ‘The British Antinomian Controversies’  2012  18 pp.  in Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society

Rutherford, Samuel – Part 1 of A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, Opening the Secrets of Familism and Antinomianism  IA  1648

Toon, Peter – The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Non-Conformity, 1689-1765  1967  170 pp.

Ramsey, D. Patrick – Anti-Antinomianism: the Polemical Theology of Daniel Williams  Ref  2011  being a ThM thesis for Westminster Theological Seminary  See the link for libraries that have it.


1600’s – New England

Hall, David – The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638: A Documentary History  Buy  1990  477 pp.

Stoever, William – ‘A Faire and Easie Way to Heaven’: Covenant Theology and Antinomianism in Early Massachusetts  Buy  1978  263 pp.

Battis, Emery – Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy  Buy  1962  398 pp.

Schaefer, Paul – ‘The New England Antinomian Controversy’  n.d.  38 paragraphs

Winthrop, John – A Short Story of the Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antinomians, Familists, and libertines that infected the churches of New-England and how they were confuted by the assembly of ministers there as also of the magistrates proceedings in court against them…  1649  74 pp.

Winthrop was an English puritan who was one of the leading figures in founding the Massachussettes Bay Colony.

Rutherford, Samuel – Part 1, chs. 15-17 of A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist, Opening the Secrets of Familism and Antinomianism  IA  1648



Daniel, Curt – ‘John Gill and Calvinistic Antinomianism’  1997  20 pp.  being ch. 7 of The Life and Thought of John Gill (1697-1771): A Tercentennial Appreciation, ed. Michael Haykin, pp. 171-191

Toon, Peter – The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Non-Conformity, 1689-1765  1967  170 pp.

Ramsey, D. Patrick – Anti-Antinomianism: the Polemical Theology of Daniel Williams  Ref  2011  being a ThM thesis for Westminster Theological Seminary  See the link for libraries that have it.




“For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

1 Thess. 4:2-3

“…Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Titus 2:13-14

“…sin is the transgression of the law.”

1 John 3:4




Related Pages


Expositions of the Ten Commandments

The General Equity of the Old Testament Civil Laws

The Mosaic Covenant

Natural Law



The Doctrines of Grace

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Common Grace

Natural vs. Moral Inability