Antinomianism—from the Greek anti—against—and nomoslaw–is a term that was coined during the time of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther. In his context, it was a label for those who were arguing that the Gospel had rendered the moral commands of the law null and void. In other words, it applied to those who believed the Law to be intrinsically “bad,” unnecessary, or even nonexistent. In secular terms, the best approximation would be ‘libertine.’

Martin Luther once made a remarkable comment about antinomianism. He called it a drama put on in an empty theater. What he meant essentially was that antinomianism doesn’t really exist. That is, sure you can say you are an antinomian, and you can have behavior to match, but no one can ever really be free of the Law like that. It is built into the world, built into our lives. No one can outrun every ‘ought,’ however much they might like to, not even the most libertine of us all. This is why antinomianism has been called an ‘impossible heresy’.

We hope the following guide will explain how certain technical terms are used on the Mockingbird site.

None of these definitions are, or could possibly be, comprehensive. Hundreds of books have been written on each. We are aiming, instead, via a few broad strokes, to give a sense of how the terms are being used. It should be noted that these terms are sometimes used as shorthand for their philosophical implications, or centrifugal outworkings.

Return to Glossary