Antinomianism, which literally means “against or instead of law,”
holds that there are no binding moral laws, that everything is relative.
Streams of Antinomianism in the ancient world
Processism: Ancient Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Cratylus, looking
to the physical world of nature pointed out that nothing is ever the same,
everything is changing. Carrying this idea to the realm of morals, the
application is that there are no moral rules, since every situation is
different, and nothing remains the same.
Hedonism: Makes pleasure the essence of good and pain the essence of
evil. But since a certain thing might produce pleasure for one person and
pain for another, it would follow that nothing is absolutely good or evil.
What is good for me might be evil for you, and vice versa.
Skepticism: It is argued that there are two sides to any argument, and
neither side can really win. We don’t know all the facts on any matter,
so we should not give a final judgment on anything. Applied to ethics,
this means that we can’t say anything is absolutely right or wrong.
Streams of Antinomianism in the Medieval World
Intentionalism: The thesis is that an action is good if and only if
the intention that motivated it was good. Any action done with an evil
intention would thus be evil. Morality is thus relative to human intentions.
But what about ignorant actions that create harm but were done with “good
Voluntarism: The thesis is that something is right because God wills
it; God does not will it because it is right. But this means moral law
is arbitrary and could be subject to change, depending on what God in His
sovereignty might want to do.
Nominalism: The thesis is that there are no universal forms or essences,
that only particular things exist. Thus while there might be acts of justice,
there is no such thing as “justice”, in the nominalist viewpoint.
Streams of Antinomianism in the Modern World
Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham and later John Stuart Mill believed that
there is no absolute right or wrong. One should simply try to act in such
a way as to produce the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount
of pain in the long run for as many people as possible.
Existentialism: The idea here is that morals are not meaningful or even
absolute. “A leap of faith” or whatever else the individual chooses to
place value on is deemed to be more important than any moral law.
Evolutionism: Evolution is seen as the source of all that might be worthwhile.
Therefore, whatever encourages evolutionary development is deemed to be
“good”. That could include genocide, genetic experimentation on humans
or any other thing.