Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So... since I scored so high in Pelagius' particular brand of heresy I thought I'd muse on it just a bit.

Here is part of the Wikipedia definition:

Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin...

I know I signed on to the traditional view of original sin in my quiz answers, though I have some mental reservations (educated by Jesuits: what can I say?). I have come to a personal accomodation with this doctrine in the sense that I see ample evidence, within myself and all around me and in the world at large, that there is a profound brokenness a the heart of human nature. However it arrives, it is there, and if you want to call that original sin I have no problem with that.

I do resonate strongly with Jesus as exemplar; his saving work has always been troubling to me. Like so many people I have a knee-jerk resistance to anything that smacks of total bootstraps Christianity. If Jesus' ability to save us is contingent on our assent, isn't that tantamount to turning faith into a work? The classic example given by those who need everyone to "accept Jesus as their personal savior" is that we are drowning, and Jesus is there to throw us a life preserver, but we have to reach out and hang on. I say, if the incarnation (including Jesus' death on the cross) is the last necessary "work" for salvation, then it is much more comparable to Jesus jumping into the water to rescue us. He carries us out. We may be conscious of this, we may be unconcsious, but we are no less saved.

Humanity has "full control"? I am enough of a Calvinist to see the fallacy in this. Free will is overrated. Ask any addict to learn where free will will get you. Calvin's view is that original sin has hopelessly defaced our free will, and only in Christ is it restored. Which, given my response in the paragraph above, it has been. So... Pelagian? You tell me.


steve said...

I scored as a Pelagian on that quiz. I enjoyed your thoughts on the notion of original sin and free will.

I think part of it might have to do with the work I do. My job in part is to help people grow emotionally, etc. So in part I think I have this natural tendency to believe that healthiness is possible.

Which raises an interesting question, I suppose. Is the notion of original sin (which I struggle with) a by-product of humanity's downfall and thereful universal to all of us? Or are we capable of growing in such ways that our will is restored (or at least more restored) to a state of health, a state that is more fitting with God's desires for us?

Magdalene6127 said...

Well, I have this argument with my bff all the time. It is her opinion that people don't change, period. I heartily disagree. If I didnt believe in the possibility of transformaiton I highly doubt I'd be in this line of work.

Calvin says change/ free will is possible in Christ. I have seen with my own eyes transformation that takes place in 12 step programs. in both instances, the individual has "put down" the offending "substance", whether that be sin or the addictive item. My answer is, yes. It is possible. Hard though.