E.S. Williams; Belmont House Publishing, 36, The Crescent, Belmont, SUTTON, Surrey, SM2 6BJ (available on Amazon.co.uk); 2018; 49pps ISBN 978 0 9954845 2 8; £ 5.00.
Review in British Church Newspaper, 27 April 2018
This is the second small book issued by this author in recent months on the subject of theological antinomianism, its practical outworking in Christian lives and churches, and especially its current phase as promoted by the hugely popular U.S. preacher John Piper, whose ‘influence has become truly global’ (p.l.)
The danger of antinomianism is a real one which has dogged the Church since apostolic days: the modern Piper-led movement is (thus far) mainly restricted to charismatic churches and groups, and is promoted via huge gatherings such as Piper’s annual ‘Passion Conference’ held in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
In six short Chapters (following an introductory Forward by Chris Hand, pastor of Crich Baptist Church) the author describes what antinomianism teaches, which is basically that as the Christian is not under law but under grace, then he or she is so free from the law that it has no place in their life. A fixed law as a rule of conduct (based on the 10 commandments) is then typically replaced by subjective ‘inward impulses and promptings of the Spirit.’ As even Christians are biased judges in their own cases this leads to selfishness (hedonism) and the ‘prosperity gospel.’
Chapter 1 explains antinomianism, compares it with Piper’s teaching, and highlights his apparent refusal to define the term antinomian.
In chapter 2 a number of Protestant theologians, the great historic teachers of salvation by grace without works, are cited, warning against the dangers of refusing the law as a rule for life.
This theme is emphasised in Chapter 3, with a detailed and helpful discussion of the place of the moral law in Christian living, with quotations from the Belgic Confession, William Tyndale, and the Westminster Assembly and the Westminster Confession of Faith. A Protestant and Reformed orthodoxy is established, showing that good works and attempted law-keeping are never a way to salvation, but rather are evidence that salvation (by grace) has taken place in a life.
Chapters 4,5 & 6 follow this thread by returning to John Piper and contrasting in some detail this consensus with his teaching as presented in three major keynote addresses. Piper’s statements are certainly ambiguous, but the antinomianism cannot be concealed. The author concludes: “In view of the evidence presented we can declare with confidence that John Piper is a deeply committed antinomian” (p.49).
In conclusion we would say that the man is not important, but the danger is, and it is good that it is exposed. True believers, however, will keep in mind Christ’s requirement: ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15).
Dr. S. Westcott.