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      Charles Finney and the Heresy of American Pelagianism
      (White Horse Inn)

      Tuesday, August 25, 2009

      From WhiteHorseInn.org:

      "Why have the doctrines of grace been so difficult to take root in the American soil? What is it about the way we think and act as a people that makes Pelagianism so common, if not our very "default setting?" On this edition of the White Horse Inn, the hosts will continue their discussion of Pelagianism, with a particular focus on its influence in American religion and practice."

      For the first video in this series that gives more of a history and defines Pelagianism, click here

      What is Pelagianism? According to Philip Schaff:

      "There is, therefore, according to this system, no original sin, and no hereditary guilt. Pelagius merely conceded, that Adam, by his disobedience, set a bad example, which exerts a more or less injurious influence upon his posterity. He was also inclined to admit an increasing corruption of mankind, though he ascribed it solely to the habit of evil, which grows in power the longer it works and the farther it spreads. Sin, however, is not born with man; it is not a product of nature, but of the will. Man is born both without virtue and without vice, but with the capacity for either. The universality of sin must be ascribed to the power of evil example and evil custom." (Schaff, op. cit., p. 806)

      In other words, man in his nature is basically a good person from birth. Even though the Bible says, "There is none good, no not one", Pelagius says in so many words, "There are some good, yes some." This along with various other teachings including a denial of penal substitutionary atonement makes the theology of Pelagianism heresy.

      Here are some links to more information from this show:

      Show Commentary

      More Resources for the Show (Scroll down to the July 13, 2008 show)


      DG said...

      Pelagianism - very good definition and it seems to be on the rise in the beliefs of many people today.

      Anonymous said...

      Although I think Finney and Osteen are to two different means, the broadcast's point is fascinating that a common idea underlies both mens' theologies: You do the work. There's an absence of man's inability. One has the threat of hellfire, the other of earthly unhappiness, but the answer is in you either way.

      I say that with awareness that Finney talked very much on sin and hell, as he should well have, and that the words may not even cross Osteen's lips, and that being a tremendous difference between them; in that respect there is no comparison.

      So how do you get from one to another, assuming that there is a link? It's a fact that today's ideas are inherently Pelagian in essence.

      I wonder if the sense of holiness was lost because being holy is something, regardless what Pelagius or Finney thought, cannot be accomplished by human means, and men were naturally crushed under the weight of the burden (and doesn't the Bible tell us that the ministry of the law condemns in 2 Corinthians 3:7-9?). And so the answer is to lower the bar so that you can fulfill it (which means tearing out the Biblical concepts of holiness and righteousness), and this is where you come to the self-help ideology they discussed here. What else can a depraved human being with no hope of fulfilling the law do? Tear out more of the Word.

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