On the way home from church last Sunday, my wife whispered to my daughter, “Sophie, do you know that you’re a sinner?” I was not at all surprised at my wife’s theological question to my 3-year old daughter. She brought her a creamy cup of sundae and warm fries. You can ask any theological question to a 3 year old when you do that. I think you can even ask that to a 2 year-old in a right day.
“No! Don’t say that, mom. I’m not a sinner!”
“No, Sophie. We all are. We are all sinners,” her mom said.
“Noooo. Hindi ako sinner.”
My wife and I both laughed. My wife told me, “I would remember this day.”
I laughed because immediately I was reminded of a Roger Nicole quote: “We are all born Pelagians.”
Pelagianism. The view that the human will has not been totally ruined by original sin and that it is therefore possible for humans to achieve moral sanctity by human effort. This view is sometimes associated with the view that original sin is transmitted through environmental or cultural means and therefore can be lessened through social improvements. Pelagian views of sin are attributed to Pelagius (c. 345-c. 425), a British monk who was strongly opposed by Augustine.
Man’s refusal to admit he’s a sinner unworthy of God’s saving grace is really not unique in theologians like Pelagius. My daughter has proven to us it’s innate. As far as I know, she has no friends who talks theology to her. None of her friends is named Pelagius or Arminius.
And yet, there she is. She’s an amateur theologian with a stand against the total depravity of man – something we all refuse the first time we hear it. Something refuse to accept it even if you have been bought sundae and ice cream by the one who says it.
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
(Rom 3:10-12 ESV)