Posted tagged ‘Antinomy’

Morris Chapman, Calvinism, and Saving Faith (Part 3)

July 21, 2009

In my third and final post (see Part 1 and Part 2) on Morris Chapman’s recent comments on Calvinism, I want to focus on what Baptists have historically said on the issue of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation and more specifically saving faith.  Before I do, however, I want to comment briefly on how Chapman used (1) Packer’s antinomy and (2) Spurgeon on saving faith—both of which do not stand in his corner.

Packer v. Chapman on Antinomy

Personally, I am not a fan of the idea of antinomy.  Like Paul Helm, I am inclined to believe that antinomy is too permissible and “could be a license for accepting nonsense” (Paul Helm, The Providence of God, 66).  It is along these lines that I believe Chapman has brought the employment of antinomy in question.  Assuming Chapman is referring to J.I. Packer’s explanation of antinomy, one should note that Packer and Chapman have very little in common when it comes to understanding God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.  For instance, Packer writes,

“God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are taught us side by side in the same Bible; sometimes, indeed, in the same text.  Both are thus guaranteed to us by the same divine authority; both, therefore, are true.  It follows that they must be held together, and not played off against each other.  Man is a responsible moral agent, though he is also divinely controlled; man is divinely controlled, though he is also a responsible moral agent” (J.I. Packer, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, 22-23).

Chapman indeed plays God’s sovereignty (“sovereignty alone”) against human responsibility and uses antinomy to justify doing so.  However, the principle proponent of antinomy says it is incorrect to do so.  Furthermore, Packer agues that “it is God who saves” and “God’s prerogative to give results” because “only God can give faith” (Ibid., 27).  While Packer holds that man is divinely controlled and yet morally responsible; Chapman does not.  Packer believes that God is sovereign in salvation and that faith is a gift from God; Chapman does not.  Therefore, I find it curious that Chapman would employing the idea of antinomy when the very ones who argued for it have done so on completely different grounds and in completely different ways.

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