Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Gospel of "Nice" - an Augustinian Critique

I know I said I'm done debating, but at the same time, I figured I could post on something that the Reformed and Catholic churches respectively agree on. In history I've learned that having a common enemy is the quickest way to unite two disparate entities or people groups. This will be an anti-Pelagian post so I figure it's pretty safe (though I've been wrong before).

I was in Newman Club (Catholic university student group) yesterday and we had an interesting discussion. The 10 commandments were discussed and the 1st commandment: You shall have no other gods before me, was debated on. A lapsed Presbyterian who is considering our Roman church said that he thought it was intolerant of God to command such a thing. Other 'Catholics' joined in saying that God wouldn't judge people who didn't know about Christ and that, "you can't expect people to change their religions, that's really hard". At this point all eyes shifted to me (the only convert in the room) and I said "I'd like to cite myself as a counter-example".

I then proceeded to ask them a series of questions which led to terrible revelations.
I showed them the biblical propositions that God is a Jealous God "My name is Jealous" and what covenant fidelity meant and how God commanded worship of Himself because he is the only thing worthy of worship and the only God, and otherwise he would be a liar. They didn't like this because it still sounded intolerant.

So I proceeded to say "Catholicism doesn't teach everyone is 'innocent until proven guilty', the scripture says that in sin did your mother conceive you. You are born condemned and only by the grace of Jesus Christ is anyone absolved of that sin." *outrage* 'what about Ghandi!?' someone shouted, 'he did so many great things'.

I responded 'Ghandi rejected Jesus Christ as the Word of God and as such cannot be saved for his allegedly 'great works', Pelagianism is a heresy condemned by the Church which teaches human salvation is dependant on works. You cannot get to Heaven by being "nice"".

Rather than simply call me an intolerant bastard - other leaders in the group said that I had a 'interesting view of Catholicism that might be different from other people's faith experience'. Salvation through grace alone because of Christ is allegedly something I came up with while sitting at home one night I guess.

Other people reassured the confused pseudo-presbyterian that indeed those other people would somehow be saved, because we couldn't have 'nice' people going to Hell. As well as a few outright rejections of the exclusivity of Christianity, etc.

Needless to say I was a little angry about the "Gospel of Nice" that seems to be so prevalent throughout Church History, from Pelagius, to the late medieval Catholics, to the radical Anabaptists, to Kant, to Hegel, and Anglican moralism etc.

I spoke with the associate Chaplain (Catholic) who was raised Catholic, had a conversion to Christ in the Reformed church, and who then reverted to Catholicism, and we agreed it was really bad. So our plan now is to try to teach people the Biblical doctrine of salvation through God's unmerited grace accessible only through Jesus Christ.

I even hinted on possibly getting the Reformed Chaplain involved but he didn't seem to want to go that far. I just hate Pelagianism. And I also think there needs to be a distinction between the Law and the Gospel that isn't usually there in Catholicism. I don't know what that means, but I just hate Pelagianism.

I bought a book called "the Grace of Christ" written by a Jesuit Priest who goes through the doctrine from Augustine to Aquinas to Luther to Jansen to Present and I'm excited to learn how to be synergistic but at the same time not be Pelagian.


  1. I would think that infant baptism would help argue against it. Next time ask: why do we baptize cute "nice" babies? Because they are wicked sinners in need of grace!

  2. Thanks. I thought it was annoying in my RCIA class (catechesis for going Roman) the teacher said "It's not like we baptize babies because we think they're sinful" and I responded, "actually that IS the reason we do"

  3. I applaud you for defending Truth. It is very frustrating when people promote that standard of "tolerance" that is so soundly-- and obviously-- contradicted by the Bible.

  4. And, by the way, I say that as a Protestant Christian. I'm not as well-versed as I should be on the nuances of the Catholic faith but we certainly have the rejection of the doctrine of tolerance--or Gospel of "Nice", as you call it--in common.