I picked up Alan Jacobs’ book Original Sin. Good stuff.
Pelagius and Augustine both figure into the book and I’m reading about their ancient quarrells with amused detachment when I get to the following passage:
If Augustine emphasized our utter dependence on God, our permanent status as God’s children, Pelagius replied, “Oh, grow up.” And he meant it seriously; we should never content ourselves with dependence on God. We are meant to “come of age,” precisely as a young man comes of age and is, in Roman legal terminology, “emancipated” from his father. So too we should eventually be emancipatus a deo, emancipated from the fatherhood of God–still technically God’s children, but adult children.
Our hero discovers his Pelagian taint. Assuming that passage accurately and fully reflects Pelagius’ views on the subject–and after all, its in print and partly in Latin, so I assume that it does–I’m mostly with Pelagius. I’m surprised.
Some Mormons and some anti-Mormons view the godhood God offers us as the sort of thing where we thank God for all He’s done for us and strike out on our own, maybe sending Him pictures and a chatty Christmas newsletter every now and again. In this view we become adult children on the American model. This unattractive and unscriptural view of godhood was more what I picked up as a child (not entirely from Mormons, it must be said) and was part of the reason I had such problems with the doctrine of deification.
I ultimately made my peace with the doctrine of deification when I realized that anything less than deification was unworthy of the power, and love, and grace of God. And I was relieved when I got older and did some reading to find a better understanding, in which the godhood God offers us means we one day join the perfect harmony and indwelling of God–making the trinity a quadrinity and ultimately an infinity–which is much more attractive and scriptural.
But some of the proponents of the better view of godhood have gone too far. They have started to talk as if what God offers us is a kind of continual dependence where we remain gods as He is God only through his continued grace and sufferance, as if we were members of the family firm only because the owner was letting us vote some of his proxies.
This is where I have to side with Pelagius. God is not a being who would settle for making a better class of dependents. God is not a being who would prefer the constrained love and filial piety of dependents.
We will not be adult children on the cross-country American model, I reckon, but through God’s grace adult children is what we will be.