Pelagius, Our Teacher

Here are some concluding remarks on the previous post. Well, it’s a conclusion but it’s also an introduction to an article that I’m working on. It’s an article that argues for the place of strong words and even mocking rebukes in our public discourse.

The last commenter observed correctly that there is a “callous, disrespectful, and arrogant attitude that is at the root of Western culture’s spiritual crisis,” but he didn’t mention the object of that attitude. The object of that attitude is God, and modern man feels that way toward God because he is so full of love for himself.

What this looks like is that modern man has a terribly large ego. When he is rebuked, or when he sees others like him rebuked, he walks the path of the fool. When he is confronted with words that sting, he refuses to look within himself at his own sinful heart to see whether he deserved that sting. He refuses to acknowledge that his flawed nature requires rebuke in order to grow. Instead he responds with outrage and anger, lashing out with stings of his own. He cries out at the “injustice” of the rebuke, and if he’s a Christian he might even back up his ego with God’s Word.

What lies at the heart of our spiritual crisis is an exalted view of man, a fully operational Pelagianism. This Pelagianism teaches us not to rebuke, but to flatter, because man ought to be worshiped. This is why even Christians today are growing blind to the sorts of rebukes that Scripture gives.

Ann Coulter gave the label of idiocy to the American missionary culture for the pride and narcissism that she perceived to be corrupting it. But she has nothing on Ezekiel, who mocked Israel for lusting after donkey-sized genitalia and horse-like ejaculations. Or Paul, who wished that his opponents would mutilate themselves. Or Christ, who, instead of sitting his good friend Peter down for a beer and a sincere chat, said, “Get behind me, Satan.”

If all goes as planned, the article will show up in a magazine near you. I’ve closed the comments on this post, not because I’m not interested in what you think about it – I surely am! – but because I don’t want to exhaust the subject before the article is published. If and when it is published, I’ll be sure to post it here.