13 July 2010

Forde on our Functional Semi-Pelagianism

Semi-Pelagianism is the notion that all humans require grace in order to be right with God, but because we have free will we have the natural ability to seek out, respond to, and appropriate this grace. Forde comments--
Officially this position . . . has been rejected by the church. Even the tiny bit [of self-resourced contribution] cannot be reconciled with grace alone. I say it has officially been rejected because I think one can nevertheless say that in actual practice this is the kind of system most people finally settle for. . . . [A] position which is officially rejected becomes nevertheless the basic operating theology of the church.
--Gerhard Forde, Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel (Augsburg 1972), 50; emphasis original

'To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly . . .' --Romans 4:5


Jude St.John said...

This is a great post. For the majority of my life as a Christian, I held to a form of semi-Pelagianism. I fought for a long time to hold on to a "tiny bit of self-resourced contribution." I had many "reasons" for holding this position, but they all boiled down to pride; I wanted to participate, efficaciously, in my own salvation. I'm grateful that the Holy Spirit pursued me and convinced me of the errors of my way.

Thanks for the post.


ps - I began reading, on your recommendation, Jesus and the God of Israel.

Dane Ortlund said...

Thanks for the comment Jude.

I think I've been on a similar journey as you--though still find myself waking up most days a functional semi-Pelagian! But God is patient, and I simply need to return to upside down grace each day. Thanks for your good words.

Hope you find Bauckham profitable! I find his stuff just fascinating. Bless you brother.