22 March 2009

Who's a Pelagian?

We Orthodox have been accused of being Pelagian because of our teaching on ancestral sin.

One of St. Augustine's arguments against Pelagius was from the practice of infant communion. If infants are not sinful, why are they communed? (We, of course, would answer that infants are baptised and communed because they have ancestral sin--i.e. they are born mortal, separated from the life of God which is communicated via the mysteries: Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist.)

This morning at our altar and at Orthodox altars all around the world, baptised Orthodox infants were communed. This morning at Lutheran altars, their baptised infants were not communed.

Turn down the volume of the words that have poured forth, and judge by what you see: At Orthodox altars, baptised infants are communed. At Lutheran altars, they are turned away. Who's a Pelagian?


-C said...

Is this really necessary?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Dear sister in Christ,

Is it necessary? Yes and no. No, in that I don't think it will change the views of certain bloggers who hold that we Orthodox are Pelagian. Yes, in that when the truth of the Orthodox faith is challenged, it is necessary that priests and the faithful speak up in its defense.

It was not me, but Lutherans themselves, who point out the Pelagian pedigree of western communion practice. And for the last number of years of my being a Lutheran pastor, I felt the existential angst and guilt of depriving little ones of what I confessed to be the life-giving flesh of the Son of Man.

I think the whole conversation can be profitable, if it makes Orthodox (particularly we converts from westernism) examine more deeply our teaching on ancestral sin.

Remember me, unworthy as I am, in your prayers.

The unworthy priest,

Fr. Gregory

Graham Reeves said...

I just heard a talk by a Pastor Webber on the Issues Etc. radio program that accused Orthodox Christians of being Pelagian. I'm actually thankful that you bring this up. It seems that Pastor Webber thinks that if one doesn't believe in original sin, then one is by definition a Pelagian. What do you think?