Monday, May 01, 2006

to say that we can work out our own salvation is heresy, and it was rightly declared so by the church.

Pelagius was a british monk that lived during the 5th century. He heard a quote from St. Augustine's Confessions that he felt was contrary to christian teaching. Augustine prayed: "Give me what you command and command what you will" to which Pleagius responded:

What are you talking about? If God is just, if God is righteous and God is holy, and God commands of the creature to do something, certainly that creature must have the power within himself, the moral ability within himself, to perform it or God would never require it in the first place.”

Augustine responded that in creation, God did not make any commands on Adam and Eve that they were incapable of keeping. But when mankind fell, God did not adjust his standards to compensate for their transgressions. Everyone that was born after Adam and Eve were born dead in sin.

A Modern Reformation Magazine Article sums up the teachings of Pelagius very well:

Pelagius said there is no such thing as original sin. Adam’s sin affected Adam and only Adam. There is no transmission or transfer of guilt or fallenness or corruption to the progeny of Adam and Eve. Everyone is born in the same state of innocence in which Adam was created. And, he said, for a person to live a life of obedience to God, a life of moral perfection, is possible without any help from Jesus or without any help from the grace of God. Pelagius said that grace "facilitates" righteousness. What does “facilitate” mean?

It helps, it makes it more facile, it makes it easier, but you don’t have to have it. You can be perfect without it. Pelagius further stated that it is not only theoretically possible for some folks to live a perfect life without any assistance from divine grace, but there are in fact people who do it.

I think most Christians reading this at least have some understanding of original sin, and would not deny it altogether. Fewer would go so far as Pelagius and say that we have the ability to work out our salvation on our own. In fact, to say that we can work out our own salvation is heresy, and it was rightly declared so by the church.


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