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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wright on the Pelagian Heresy

"I must insist, right away, that if you come upon anyone who genuinely thinks that they can fulfil Pelagius' programme, in whichever form or variation you like, you should gently but firmly set them right. There is simply no way that human beings can make themselves fit for the presence or salvation of God. What is more, I know of no serious theologian, Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, who thinks otherwise; indeed, one of the best expositions of the Augustinian or Lutheran or Calvanist doctrine of justification I have ever heard was given by a Jesuit, Father Edward Yarnold, in an ecumenical meeting. If Pelagius survives at all today, it is at the level of popular secular moralism, which is in any case becoming harder and harder to find in the Western world."

- N. T. Wight, What Saint Paul Really Said, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997; p.116.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mike Spreng said...

So, are you saying you don't believe in Sproul's "Semi-pelagius" argument?

5:54 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

What is Sproul's "semi=pelagius" argument?

5:56 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger nelmezzo said...

I believe the Sproul argument referred to is Sproul's contention that Evangelicalism is stuck in Semi-Pelagian captivity. That's hard to disagree with, but note that NT Wright is not talking about Semi-Pelagianism, he's talking about full-blown Pelagianism. I have to agree with NT Wright here. It's really hard to find genuine exemplars of Pelagianism, perhaps extreme Health and Wealth types might be an example.

Semi-Pelagianism is a different story. Examples are easy to come by, but the definition of it is also slippery. Some Protestants hold Roman Catholicism to be Semi-Pelagian, which Catholicism consistently denies, holding that Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the council of Orange.

The category is probably slippery enough that it cannot be used with precision. For Sproul (and the guys on the White Horse Inn), it's shorthand for for an ill-defined theology in which salvation is initiated by an act of grace from God but is then continued by living life according to one's best effort. So it's shorthand for a kind of moralism.

10:59 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger Mike Spreng said...

I just don't think the term "semi-pelagius" is charitable or even acurate. Pelagius was condemned for preaching salvation by our own merit ALONE. The RCC or even the Arminians do not teach that same heresy. It's like saying someone can be a "semi-heretic." Either they are a heretic or they are not a heretic. I'm not sure that having an incomplete view of Total Depravity means that someone is a heretic. Heck, many Calvinists have an incomplete view of sanctification, and humility, which is really a great missunderstanding of Total Depravity.

11:25 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

I'm assuming that Sproul thinks that anyone not Calvinist is perhaps semi-pelagian, albiet that is probably an over simplification.

I agree with Wright in this comment and Nelmezzo when he decalres, "It's really hard to find genuine exemplars of Pelagianism."

11:50 PM, February 19, 2006  
Blogger Doug E. said...

That is a great quote!

Doug

6:52 PM, February 20, 2006  

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