[Milton-L] Antinomian Occupations

Sanford Blackburn antinomian2 at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 5 00:08:58 EST 2007


Thanks for this.  I’ve been busy with Hawthorne and had to set this on the 
back burner.

I am curious what Milton (and others) have to say concerning the notion of 
internalized law. Consider Jim’s point:

“Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount seem to support this: . . . 
are not now given up . . . rather, the law is internalized, so that we no 
longer commit
adultery "in our hearts."  The point being here that external
obedience to commands has now been transformed into character traits.”

By this internalization, do we mean that we "automatically" follow the law, 
or, instead, do we follow the law because it is internalized as a passive 
reference we can, as it were, consult as part of the larger process of 
making an appropriate decision about our conduct?

A science fiction analogy is apt:  is the new law "chip" the 
angels/God/Jesus inserts into out heads meant to control our character and 
behavior, or is it a legal reference library that merely provides 
information, and we act upon that information at our personal discretion?

_A Clockwork Orange_ turns upon a similar distinction.  That is, can young 
Alex, who is conditioned to do the right thing (the law has been 
internalized to the point of becoming a “trait” of Alex’s "character") be 
considered a moral animal if he has no choice in the matter?  That is, in _A 
Clockwork Orange_, is Alex, as the Minister eloquently argues, the true 
Christian history has been waiting for? Or is he, as the Prison Chaplain 
argues, an amoral automaton because he no longer has the power of choice and 
MUST do good?

On what side does Milton fall on this question?

("fall"  Good grief.  No pun intended.)


Carter Kaplan

>From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>Reply-To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Antinomian Occupations
>Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 22:32:30 -0500
>I'd like to add to Prof. Skulsky's observations (not sure if he'd
>agree, but...) that the Mosaic law can be absolished for some purposes
>but not for others.  Paul's argument in Romans appears to be that the
>Mosaic law as the basis of an individual's acceptance before God has
>been abolished.  This does not necessarily mean that the Mosaic law as
>a valid articulation of moral principles has been abolished.  For
>these purposes the law is still necessary, even for Paul, serving as a
>"schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ.
>Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount seem to support this:
>the Mosaic law is "fulfilled" rather than "abandoned": e.g., laws
>against adultery are not now given up so that adultery has now become
>"lawful," rather, the law is internalized, so that we no longer commit
>adultery "in our hearts."  The point being here that external
>obedience to commands has now been transformed into character traits.
>Either way, in obedience to an external command or out of faithfulness
>from the heart, though, the same moral principle is still in effect:
>thou shalt not commit adultery.  Christ emphasized that not one "jot
>or tittle" shall pass away from the law until "all has been fulfilled"
>within this very same Sermon.
>Romantic emphasis upon morality as the product of spontaneous desire
>(say, in Blake's MHH) mirrors this judgment: morality is supposed to
>proceed from a state of complete freedom, so that we always follow our
>desires because our desires are always right.  It's not clear that it
>recognizes the eschatological element of Christ's statement: all may
>not yet have been fulfilled, so the law has not yet begun to pass
>away.  Milton may be more aware of this, hence, Blake's critique of
>Milton in MHH.
>Catholicism tends to speak of works as a part of salvation; the above
>is a more Protestant formulation of the relationship between law and
>salvation, probably more aligned with Milton's own dissenting
>Jim R
>On 2/27/07, Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at email.smith.edu> wrote:
>>Carter Kaplan asks why I was dissatisfied with the Antinomian Thread. I
>>fear that I answered this question too opaquely in my prefatory remark:
>>"A central point seemed to go a-begging. Please forgive the following
>>ill-sorted ruminations, in which I try to zero in on that central
>>point." The central point--or rather the point I tried to defend--is
>>that Mosaic law, in Milton's view, can no more be abolished in itself
>>(as opposed to its role in a broken covenant) than truth can be
>>abolished. In any case, I didn't mean to imply any disparagement of the
>>other contributions, including Mr. Kaplan's interesting remarks on
>>natural and official law.
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