While I write this, I am aware that there may really be no such word as 'Pelagianism' but this is the best way to describe what I am thinking. Nor do I want to pick on any group of people to put them down. That is not the point of why I am writing this.
I like writing blog pages because it helps me to 'think out loud'. If I am disturbed about something, I can write it down and share it with others. As I go through Facebook messages, I do become disturbed. Many reasons for this, but, one is that I have been sheltered from the Greater Christian World until I got into evangelical forums and then, on Facebook. I am amazed to see the slander, especially on Facebook, that Christians commit against each other. I also see a lot of people put into a bad light, when I think the original intention is to expose false Bible teachers. I feel bad for some of those people because God could be drawing them to Christ, yet, they are called names and 'warned' by Christians to avoid them.
While I know this goes on continually, I know that we are to separate the truth from the lies. We are to be discerning. We are to take things people say, and analyze them in the light of God's word. We can do that in a way that is not so destructive though, and that is what I intend to do with Pelagianism.
I am not an expert on Pelagianism, but I have seen posts from those on Facebook concerning what they believe in. As I try to evaluate what I think it is they are trying to communicate, I see a group of people who, have certain emphasis on Biblical themes, yet there are parts missing. For instance, they are big on being 'bold' in preaching the Gospel, but, their definition of bold sounds similar to being harsh or rude. They will use examples of Jesus talking to the Scribes and Pharisees, or, John the Baptist preaching repentance to people. But Jesus talking to the Pharisees is much different than His talking to the woman at the well, or even His own disciples. Remember, some of the Pharisees actually committed the unpardonable sin. We are not talking about the run-of-the-mill, everyday, sinner here. Jesus responded differently to different sinners. All of us have sinned, but this issue is the heart. If we have hearts of rebellion against God, God will resist us. God was gracious to tax collectors and prostitutes and they were the recipients of His salvation.
As I thought about this over the weekend, one word came to mind. It is what I think is missing in the Pelagian doctrine. Mercy. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek those who are lost. He desires mercy, not sacrifice.
In Luke 18, we see two different people compared. One is a Pharisee and the other is a tax collector. The Pharisee was grateful that he wasn't like the tax collector or other 'sinners'. But the only thing the tax collector could do was to ask God for mercy. Remember, the Pharisees were morally exceptional, at least outwardly. Inwardly though, they were resistant to God.
The only people who need God's mercy are sinners. Salvation is a gift from God to sinners. God delights in providing salvation for sinners, when they repent and trust in Jesus. I don't want to speculate too much, and I could be wrong, but I think Pelagians believe that people have a choice of whether they will sin or not. They believe that you can choose not to sin. Yes, there really are times when a person can outwardly choose not to sin. You can choose to not kill your next door neighbor. You can choose to not take up drinking or drugs. You can choose to not commit adultery if you are married. But your heart can be in a very different place than your decision to not sin. You might have chosen to be faithful in marriage, but struggle with porn and lustful thinking (at least in your mind). You might not be an alcoholic, but still struggle with trying to cover the pain. Maybe you compensate by overeating or by cutting. You might even take pride in the fact that you never killed someone, but, you know deep down inside there is a person that you wish were dead, or, that something bad would happen to, because the situation you find yourself in with this person is unfair. You were ripped off and want justice!
We are only responsible for our own sins. Our sins come from our hearts. Sin is the fabric of what we are made up of. While at the same time, we have been created in God's image, sin has marred that image and God is dishonored in us because of sin. Pelagians don't believe in original sin. It makes it hard for them to look at their own hearts because the only sins they understand are the outward ones. If they could look at their own hearts, they would be asking God for mercy and help. They come down hard on other people who are sinners, much like the Pharisee in Luke 18 did to the tax collector. That is because they do not see themselves as sinners, because they believe sin is a choice they make, and since they haven't chosen to sin, they aren't sinners. But again, we go back to mercy. We all need God's mercy because we all have sinned against a Holy God. God specializes in mercy. But if we don't think we need it, then we have to ask ourselves if Jesus really died for us. If we really aren't sinners, then I guess we don't need the Cross and we can get to God because we can choose whether we sin or not. Since the choice is always ours to sin or not, then we had better always choose to not sin. Are you up to the task?