Everything is Permissible

1 Cor 10:23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

This has been one of those weird un-understandable verses to me for a long time, but with what I am learning about law and rules I’m wondering if I’m beginning to understand it.

A couple of the problems with rules, in my mind, are:

  • They can’t guide you to do the best, optimum thing at any moment, because they are generalised ideas.
  • Knowing a moral rule is not the same as knowing God – following rules can in fact appear to reduce your reliance on knowing God. I say ‘appear’ because we are tempted to think that we are better because we followed the rule and perhaps if we are better then we don’t need to know God so well.

I’ve started to notice that Jesus never forces us to do what he would like us to do, he very much leaves things to our own free choice. You could say that, therefore, he permits us to do anything – which leads us to choose, ourselves, what we will actually do. By moving from a set of rules, where you were permitted to do certain things and not permitted to do others, to acting out of a changed spirit inside it would seem that everything is now permitted. Note the second verse above “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Also note that we are still capable of acting independently of God’s guidance, acting out of our will rather than His – that we can and do still do wrong.

Antinomianism P.S. I Love You trailer Clue full

is listed in Wikipedia as “Antinomianism (from the Greek αντι, “against” + νομος, “law”), or lawlessness (in the Greek Bible: ανομια), in theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities. Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation.”

Often antinomianism is painted as a way of life that means you can sin as much as you want to! Well, that would be a horrific lifestyle, but one that I don’t think antinomianism is responsible for. There is a big difference between “no rules” and “no rules, be as evil as you like”. To me antinomianism is “no rules, follow God’s heart in you” – where’s the evil in that?

Surely obeying a rule instead of acting out of God’s guidance is just as much an act that is separate from God as breaking a rule outside of God’s guidance. The act, whichever one it is, still comes out of a separation from God and therefore is a sinful act – sin being separation from God and sinful acts being what you do in your separation from God. Rules do not bring the desired result, in fact they tend to reinforce our ‘stuck in death’ state.

So looking at the opposite behaviour – having a relationship with God and acting directly out of it, having the Holy Spirit inside and acting from that – we see that rules have no place within our relationship with God. God breaks through the barriers and allows us to know him, meaning we no longer have to approximate what he wants, we can know what he wants and do that – in fact we will want to do that just as much as he wants us to do that.

When we are ‘in Christ’ there is no room for rules, rules which cannot bring us to doing the right thing. We are left instead with the single broad command to love – and we can only love when we are acting in God’s will that we know through his Holy Spirit… surely…


The Commission on the future of Volunteering is holding a range of events exploring volunteering and the future of volunteering in the UK. As the faith communities make up a large part of the volunteer workforce it ay be good to give some input. Check out the website for more info but some of the events planned are below

– There will be 18 regional events (two in each region)
– There will be an event on crime and criminal justice in Manchester on 14th May (PM session)
– There will be an event on volunteering and public service delivery in London on 27th April (AM session)
To register for any of the above, please visit www.volcomm.org.uk. Flyer attached to this email for more info.

The Commission would also like you to complete the evidence forms answering: What do you think is happening to volunteering now? What do you think should be happening to volunteering in ten years’ time? (Evidence forms are attached or can be completed online – www.volcomm.org.uk)

Revelation, Revolution, and Rupture

When I did the series of posts on redefining church I briefly explored the concept that the church has an intrinsic sub cultural weakness, and like many institutions this is a preference for evolution over revolution, yet I feel that the shifts we see in scripture are so dramatic that they are more like revolutionary change.

Pete Rollins has been exploring the concept Revelation as a rupture and you can check out some of his thoughts here which in many ways helps describe the type/scale of change and root of what I was getting at. However I find it quite hard to find which post to recommend on his site so would suggest as an alternative to check out the talk he gave at Greenbelt 2006.

Where’s the Humility in Faith?

I was caused to reflect yesterday on the seeming lack of humility in the certainty a person of faith has that their faith is true which additionally might mean that they have to believe that the faith of others is misguided.

On first inspection this seems to demand a lack of humility – a belief in the correctness of one’s beliefs.

Anyway, I didn’t feel to comfortable with this so I thought about it some more.

It occurred to me that perhaps knowing the truth can only happen when you give up your own beliefs and accept truth from outside of oneself. So to have any faith at all it has to come because:

  • You recognised your foolishness and inability to work out what was truth
  • You were supplied with faith from someone/something outside of yourself

So by definition to have faith is to admit your foolishness. It demands a loss of pride.

We are given faith, it comes from God. We believe in the truth that he gives us and we do not accept any credit for the receipt of that faith – which has only arrived in us with humility.

In my mind we often go too far in what we believe is our faith: We start labelling our opinions as faith and start believing in our own wise pronouncements on matters of belief. When we start noticing that we have a vested interest in our position with regard to matters of belief then perhaps we might notice that there is something wrong, that we have allowed pride in our own opinions and our own wisdom to work its way back in to our lives – pushing our real, God given, faith to the sidelines.