Saturday, October 22, 2011

Having solved the other issues challenging the Church in the 21st century the debate turned to Pelagius


The Diocese of Atlanta has posted the resolutions they will be considering at their upcoming diocesan convention on their website. Among those dealing with such issues as the death penalty, immigration reform, health care, suicide prevention and campus ministry is this one:
Contributions of Pelagius

Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition, and whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans, Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition And be it further resolved that this committee will report their conclusions at the next Annual Council.

Submitted by the Rev. Benno D. Pattison, Rector, the Church of the Epiphany
It has engendered quite the sprightly dialogue on the House of Bishops/Deputies listserve and no small amount of blog attention on the other side of the aisle.

All of which drove me to my blog archives where I found this introduction to the "Baptism of Our Lord" sermon I preached in 2008:

"I'm remembering this morning a homily I heard a few years ago on retreat with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bryn Mawr from one of the Roman priests who came to preside in the convent chapel. He talked about his early days in ministry, doing missionary work in Guatemala and the deep friendship he developed with his Protestant roommate. He said they had MUCH in common as they worked among the poor of the city and they had lots of great conversations about theology, mission and ministry.

The one chasm they couldn't bridge, however, was the one between their different views on the nature of humanity. His roommate, the priest recounted, was convinced humans are inherently evil beings who can only accomplish good through our baptism into the Body of Christ. The priest, on the other hand, was convinced that humans are inherently good and that our baptism into the Body of Christ enables us to resist evil and participate with God in making the world a better place.

I was struck by how concisely he articulated what is arguably the greatest theological division we face ... and not only in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion. So many of the arguments about faith, sexuality, gender and mission come back, again and again, to what it means to be created in the image of God as human beings and what it means to be "saved" as Christians."
Let the debate continue! (And long live Calvin & Hobbes!)

1 comment:

Bruce C. Fehr said...

All that sprightly debate on the other side, "Virtuous" as it might seem, would have you believe that the Bishop of Atlanta is behind this resolution and that redressing heresy will be the focus of the entire council. Anyone who has ever been to a diocesan convention knows better, of course, but that doesn't give you something 'round which to rally the schismatic troops.