No Holiness, No Heaven! Antinomianism Today. By Richard Alderson. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986. 108 pp. Paper, $6.58.
Richard Alderson, a British professor of English as a foreign language, has written an insightful, albeit highly erroneous, discussion of the Gospel in this fascinating little book.
The author understands the Free Grace position reasonably well. In spite of this, he rejects it as unbiblical and antinomian.
To be sure, some who hold to the Free Grace position are antinomian. However, not all are. Alderson, in part, acknowledges this when he suggests that some are “practicing” antinomians and others are “doctrinal” or “theoretical” antinomians (p. 13). The former live immoral lives; the latter live exemplary lives.
According to Alderson there are three ways in which we may know that we have eternal life: (1) the promises in the Word of God (pp. 60–61), (2) the tests of life (pp. 61–64), and (3) the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (pp. 64–65). In places he seems to suggest that any of these can give assurance (see pp. 60–65). In other places, however, he makes it very clear that ongoing good works (done with the right motives) are essential to true assurance (cf. pp. 47–59, 66–68, 82–86).
Of course, if this is true, assurance is impossible. The author has an answer to this seeming difficulty. He writes, “In the words of C.H. Spurgeon, ‘Better a brief warfare and eternal rest than false peace and everlasting torment.”‘ (p. 86). How sad! Better a third option: true peace and eternal rest!
The discussion of the role of the believer in progressive sanctification is very helpful. Alderson points out the need for effort and dependence (pp. 72, 76). He rightly rejects the totally passive approach to growth as being unbiblical.
I highly recommend this book because it inadvertently points up the weaknesses in the Lordship Salvation position even as it seeks to defend it.
Robert N. Wilkin
Grace Evangelical Society