What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!In my last year of seminary I referred to that quote in a paper dealing with Calvin and the doctrine of humanity/nature of humanity. In that paper I essentially took Calvin to task for his thoughts which developed into "worm theology".
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals!
So what is our basice nature? Are we naturally inclined to good or to evil? Is it a question of original sin or original blessing?
This column appears in the latest issue of the United Church Observer. I took Church History before Sandra got to St. Andrew's and so never took part in the exercise she describes but I have to say that it sounds like a great exercise. Do you stand more with Augustine and the inability to do anything but sin (which leads quite directly to Calvin and total depravity) or with Pelagius and the ability to choose to do what is good? And why?
IF I were to do it I would be on the Pelagian side of the line. But as I thought about it while reading the column I realized that I might be closer to the center than previously. Observation of human activity and structures does in fact speak eloquently about an original sin/total depravity possibility.
But then I remember a question John Crossan asks in God and Empire in regards to civilization and violence. Does normalcy mean inevitability? Just because there is a tendency to happen does it automatically have to happen?
So yeah, I still lean towards Pelagius (and some suggest that Celtic Christianity as a whole leaned toward Pelagianism before it was taken over/folded into Roman Catholicism). I see thaat God declared all creation, humanity included, as inherently good. That means there is the possibility that we can choose not to sin. But the evidence makes that hard to believe at times....
So if we were all in Sandra's class together where would your name be on the chalkboard?