13 December 2008

Name that heresy! (RESULTS)

This pic is a great illustration of a common Christian heresy. . .

Do you know what that heresy is?

Do you know why it is a heresy?

Do you know why so many of us fall into this heresy?

I will hold all comments until everyone has a chance to guess. . .

First one to guess correctly gets a Mass for their intentions!

RESULTS! Yes, the pic represents the heresy, pelagianism. . .the idea that man can not only do the good without God's grace, but can save himself through his good deeds. Augustine worked out the basics of our Catholic understanding of grace and free will while engaging the British monk, Pelagius in debate.

Looks like "The Shepherd" was the first to answer correctly. . .now, if The Shepherd turns out to be a bishop. . .well, I may have to go to the next closest lay answer. . . ;-)

I am very pleased with how many of you came up with the correct answer even if you didn't know the name of the heresy!

Thanks for playing. . .Name That Heresy!


  1. Anonymous2:59 AM

    I'm going to say Pelagianism since he is trying to plug himself in despite requiring power to operate.

    I believe it was a heresy since it threw out the need for God's grace as Pelagius felt we were saved by our own actions.

    I don't know how many fall into this heresy but many these days don't like the idea of relying on someone else for anything even ,or maybe especially, salvation.

  2. Is it Pelagianism? The light-bulb plugging itself into the electricity-socket could be a metaphor for the man who thinks he can initiate the first grace.

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  5. Hmmm....On one hand, it looks like a visual for Centering Prayer (which itself isn't a "heresy"), but which believes we can control what experience we have with God...although infused prayer can ONLY be a gift God gives us.

    At least I don't know what that would be called.

    Unless it's the Pelagian heresy. Pelagius believed we do not need God's grace for salavation, and that we are the authors of our own salvation. Why is that heresy? Isn't it obvious? While we aren't Calvinists (total depravity), we know we can cooperate with God, but we require His Grace in order to be saved. Through our reason, we still have the ability to choose the good; St. Thomas Aquinas used the image of the transparent body which has a natural inclination to receive light, but it is diminished by supervening clouds (ie effects of original sin).

    Why we fall into it; we sometimes get hung up on the idea that even to go to Confession, we have to perfect ourselves; that we have to acquire virtue on our own, but in reality it is God who inspires and gives us the grace to do those things. We only have to cooperate and choose what is good. There's a BIG difference there.

    And I'm guessing I'm wrong, but thanks anyway for helping me study for this afternoon's test!

  6. Pelagianism; thanks to Steve Landregan, teaching from "The Catholic Church Through the Ages" by John Vidmar,OP

  7. Pelagianism? Simplistically, that we can be saved by our own efforts, without the need for grace.

    Great picture!

  8. Could it be pelagianism,
    Denial of the need for our Lord's graces?

  9. Is it Pelagianism?

  10. Pelegianism, i think, stems from our pride
    that we can do it all on our own,
    that we do not need our Lord to help us;
    stay firm in our faith, prayer and devotions,

  11. Anonymous8:33 AM

    "I can do it myself" Secularism.

    Why is it wrong? Because society doesn't have the answers to everything.

  12. Anonymous8:52 AM

    My guess is Pelagianism, and the reason is Pride

  13. Anonymous8:59 AM

    the reason - Pelagian limits the immidiate divine co-operation to the gift of the ability to act- meaning we can achieve salvation by our own powers

  14. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Pelagianism: the belief that we can obtain salvation on our own without God's grace or the redemption of Christ.

    It is a heresy because we are only saved by Christ and by grace. We can choose to respond to God's grace and Christ's sacrifice with faith and virtue.

    We fall into this heresy when we do not trust God's loving plan for us and think that we can "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps".

  15. A lightbulb trying to plug itself in to get its power seems identical to "pulling one's-self up by one's bootstraps", which sounds like Pelagianism to me, whereby God's grace is not necessary for our salvation (beyond His granting us our own free will).

    I'd guess we fall into it often because we don't recognize God as the source of all grace. We tend to look at what is REALLY our co-operation WITH that grace as our self-production of that grace.

  16. Anonymous12:26 PM


  17. I'll guess Pelagianism.

  18. Pelagianism.

    We can save ourselves.

    It denies the need for God's Grace.

    We fall into this heresy for many different reasons. Some fall because they don't want to admit thier own weakness and corruption. Some fall because they don't want to have to play by God's rules. Ultimatly all fall for the same reason, they don't want to be dependent on God because they are afraid to trust in a God who is unseen by them.

  19. Shockingly it is Pelagianism.

  20. Pelagianism, I would guess, or semi-pelagianism. It is a heresy for denying the necessity of the grace of God for our salvation, implying that we can somehow act virtuously for salvation without God' assistance (demonstrated by the irony of a robot plugging itself into the socket from which it derives the power to plug itself in). Probably our fallen tendencies move us to pride in our own worth and actions, such that we believe we can even be saved without God.

  21. What is ... Semipelagianism?

    a. This heresy states that man, completely unaided by grace (ie, an 'unlit bulb'), can initiate the first move towards God, and therefore ultimately his own salvation.

    b. It's a heresy because it teaches that man can effectively make himself the prime mover and source of his own salvation, even if it is ultimately completed by God (power source = outlet). It denies that we are 'made in the image and likeness of God' (Gn 1:26) -- His divine knowledge placed a 'light' in us before we were 'formed in the womb' (Jer 1:5). We weren't born as cold/burnt out bulbs, but bulbs with a nascent light obscured by original sin ...

    c. We fall into this heresy because our control freak society extols as the highest 'virtue' supreme self-sufficiency, as manifest in the idea of absolute individualism rampant today -- the ultimate Self-Made Man, who is responsible for making his very existence and salvation...

  22. Anonymous5:32 PM


  23. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Ok, I'm not well versed enough in Church history to know if it has a name but...

    The first thing that comes to mind is the modern heresy that we "earn" our way into heaven and that we can really take hold of salvation apart from the grace of God and the cross of Christ. Basically, an "I can be good enough on my own for God to owe me salvation" idea. (If viewed that the little lightbulb dude is actually in the process of plugging himself in)

    I suspect that isn't right though... too straightforward...

    I guess it could also be the heresy that Christ is just a man who was "plugged in" to divine grace, which I think google reveals to be Socinianism or Arianism, depending on the exact degree to which the heretic feels Jesus needed to be "plugged in"... My campus minister at UR was fond of teaching that one (le sigh). (Basically Jesus would run out of Divine power and have to charge up again, like my cell phone)

    but that's a really big stretch...

    and my last guess... perhaps the Calvinist "doctrine" of "monergism", where we essentially are totally depraved, lifeless and basically can do no good. We're God's puppet and (to quote my old roommate) "dead on the floor, unable to even open the door to Christ should he knock". God basically does all the work for us, and totally wipes out our will and freedom in the process. Kinda like Islam, but friendlier to Jesus. (This would be from the POV that the little lightbulb dude is stuck for all eternity in that position, unable to move and plug himself in.)

    Anyway, those are my guesses!

  24. I would say Pelagianism: the little guy is trying to connect himself to a power source by his own stength, without that source's help.

  25. Anonymous1:22 AM

    Haha, no Bishop here! I used to raise goats. Although me as a bishop might make good comic relief.

  26. Anonymous6:42 AM

    I have some more studying to do. And I soo needed those prayers :0)
    I will be ready for the next round of..Name that Heresy

  27. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Wikipedia (e.g) says: Pelagianism is the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit. According to semi-Pelagianism, man doesn’t have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then completes the salvation process.

    So, to match pelagianism the bulb would need a completely internal energy source, requiring only that the bulb flip an internal switch in order to light up, and thus requiring no energy from an external source (God). For semi-pelagianism, the bulb needs a built-in energy source that is sufficient to allow the bulb to move towards the socket, which then gives it enough power to light up. But in orthodox reality, the bulb requires batteries to be installed before it has enough power to move towards the socket -- and the batteries are only supplied by God.

  28. Thank you, Paul! I too was thinking that if this clever picture were to truly illustrate Pelagianism, the bulb would light up without having to be plugged into the outlet at all (assuming that the electricity is symbolic of Grace).

    I think it more accurately illustrates semi-Pelagianism since the bulb has to make the first move on its own and then the electricity (Grace) would then light up the bulb.

    There are many more functional semi-Pelagians in the Church these days than true Pelagians. At least a great number of contemporary hymns which seem so popular (ugh!) sound semi-Pelagian to my perhaps too-sensitive ears.

    Oremus pro invicem!

  29. RE: Paul & Baron...

    There's one in every bunch...and TWO in this case...

  30. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Re: Pelagianism, After reading your post and the comments I was struck by the letter to Diognetus in today's Office of Readings www.universalis.com/readings.htm
    "When we had made it clear that we could not enter God's kingdom by our own power, we were to be enabled to do so by the power of God"