Concordia Theological Monthly

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Bible Study; Lecture; Sermon Prep


The Presbyterian of January 30, 1930, published an article by Dr. S. G. Craig, at that time its editor (''Diversity of Opinion within the Organized Church Relative to the Plan of Salvation"), which is to a great extent informatory and to some extent misinformatory. The first section of the article treats of the Pelagian and the Christian teaching on the plan of salvation. "Pelagius, who was the first to teach a formal doctrine of self-salvation in the Church and who may be regarded as the father of all who have taught this doctrine within the Christian Church, held that God sent Christ to make expiation for past sins and to set us a good example, also that He gave the Law and the Gospel to lighten the path of righteousness and to persuade men to walk in that path. Pelagius, however, was explicit not only in asserting the entire natural ability of men to keep. the commandments of God, but in denying. 'grace’ in the sense of inward help from God and in maintaining that all the power exerted in the saving process is that which inheres in men aa men. ••• We are not unmindful of the fact that there is rampant in the Church to-day in practically all its branches a Pelagianism that out-Pelagianizes Pelagius in the completeness with which it maintains that man is his own savior. Of expiation, of a need of atonement. Modernism will hear nothing and is often positively scornful of the whole notion. Everywhere we find cited with approval these somewhat stirring, but certainly unchristian verses by W. E. Henley ending with the familiar words: 'It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul' … The triumph of Modernism would therefore mean the overthrow of Christianity. Hence we make bold to say that if the existing church organizations are to continue to function as agents for the propagation of the Gospel of the grace of God, they must extrude this modern Pelagianism with no leas firmness and thoroughness than did the early Church the Pelagianism of Pelagius.'' This section also deals with Semi-Pelagianism, which accounts for the use of the word "grace" in the portion quoted. And it deals too gently with this form of Pelagianism. It says: "But while Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism ascribes a larger function to man in the plan of salvation than do Augustinianism and Calvinism, yet they hold that any power that men exert in saving themselves is secondary and subsidiary, itself the result of a previous activity on the part of God, and so confess that in the last analysis it is God, and God alone, who eaves the soul.'' According to Semi-Pelagianism (Catholic theology) and Arminianism and synergism it is not God alone who saves the soul. The situation cannot be adequately set forth unless the matter be treated also under the heading: Pelagianism-Arminianism-Synergism vs. Monergism.


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)

Matthew 22:3; Matthew 23:37; Romans 9:20;

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Laity; Ministers; Scholars