There’s been a lot of high-and-mighty talk lately about the “evils” of Pelagianism, and I feel that I’m going to have to set the record straight.
Not only is Pelagianism not evil, it is in fact fantastic. In the orthodox position, human beings are somehow magically tainted by Original Sin, which is taken to be the act of Adam and Eve’s eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, if you read Genesis 2-3, you can see that the deck is clearly stacked against the Original Couple. God obviously intended for them to eat of the Tree – otherwise why point it out and say “don’t eat from this”? God knew what was going to happen – or God isn’t omniscient. I mean, God, could have built a fence, not allowed the Serpent into the Garden, etc.
So, dwelling on Original Sin is clearly pointless. But the orthodox position goes beyond even this – they claim that it is Original Sin which somehow prevents us from doing any good at all. Ok, so the clearly contrived action of an allegorical couple somehow cursed us? Makes no sense, right? Are we relegated to being mewling moral infants, chirping for God’s regurgitated grace?
Furthermore, it is the case that human beings can do good. For example, if you volunteer to help a friend move out of their apartment, you are doing good. Original Sin doesn’t rear its ugly head. In fact, you’ll find that it never does. If you fail to do good, it is because you failed to do good, not because a magical power from the mythical past prevented you from doing what’s right.
Now, the Pelagians realized this truth about existence – that Original Sin is meaningless, and that human beings can in fact do what is right. If they couldn’t, why would God give them the Law for hundreds of years just so they could inexorably fail to uphold it? That would be stupid, and God isn’t stupid, right?
Instead, God created human beings with free will and moral agency. Human beings can choose what is right or choose what is wrong. I’m not saying that they always choose the right, but they are capable of doing so. The grace of God is expressed in the fact that God created us as moral agents and gave us freedom. This makes our actions meaningful – it makes our love of God meaningful. If we’re just doomed to fail in the one thing that is important in life, what’s the point? Why would God create us at all, except to aggrandize God’s self?
We aren’t doomed by the supposed actions of mythological original humans. We aren’t doomed at all. We live in a creation guided by a God of grace and forgiveness, not of condemnation and absurd catch-22 curses. God offers us freedom, and it is up to us to choose how we use that freedom – to serve God or ourselves.
(If you want to read filthy lies, check out Aric Clark’s post on Pelagianism)