Friday, March 28, 2008

Good Heathens - Pelagianism

I've been thinking alot lately (as usual) but about Chris Hedges the semi-christian-ish? author of 'I Don't Believe In Atheists' and another book calling the American Christian Right Fascists. But he has lived in awful conditions covering stories in El Salvador, Serbia, Croatia, the middle east and many places of conflict. He's been beaten, shot at, and imprisoned (wrongfully) just as a Journalist. An interview where he discusses his book and views is available at: it's very interesting. Where any of this ties to pelagianism is that he argues that someone being relgious (or Christian) has no effect on their behaviour as good or bad. I find that whatever the bible may say, from an empirical perspective this is certainly true. I know lots of people who have different religious views than I do and they are great people. And some of the worst people I know are Christians.

Right now I'm sure Jared and Augustine are getting pretty pissed off. Remember though that it was the Good Samaritan - a socially and religiously different character (they had a different torah - samaritan pentatuech, and disagreed with the Jews on where God told them to sacrifice and worship). I guess you could make the Augustinian argument that anytime someone does good who is not a Christian it is still by God's grace, but I don't see the world as that corrupted. St. Jerome said "God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice". It seems to me that this leaves the possibility that non-Christians can be good. Clement of Alexandria said "We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice" as well as "Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame.".

This seems like a viable option of a free will ... just ignore modern psychology and you're good. Also it seems that once again Church 'tradition' is in utter contradiction with itself. I'd like to see how the Catholics use theological gymnastics to get out of this, when it is clear doctrinally both in their church and in Reformed and Lutheran circles that every good deed comes from God's grace, and that man in no way is responsible for saving himself.

So once again the philosophical ramifications make no sense. On the one hand Augustine claiming God is good, he has a complete plan, and all who are saved, are saved because of his good plan. And then Pelagius who says everyone can choose good if they want.

And then we have reality which says that horrible things happen to good people, natural disasters kill infants, the world is not a fair place by any Aristotelian definition. But at the same time we seem to have free will, and yet the whole genealogy of Christ shows us that history is somehow linear and has a meaning... hmm I think I'll just go with Kierkegaard, Pascal, and Isaiah in saying that God is beyond our comprehension.

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