This is from a review of a new book called after lives…
Augustine won out in his battle against two early Christian thinkers, Origen and Pelagius, who were declared heretics for suggesting that moral self-help could co-exist with divine grace as a means of gaining salvation. Mr. Casey notes an irony: The Vatican has never formally repudiated predestination, but the church “now in practice allows the faithful to be as cheerfully and unconsciously Pelagian as everyone else.” And “everyone else” is just about right when it comes to the U.S. A recent Gallup survey reported that 71% of Americans believe in heaven and that 93% of them think they have an excellent, good or fair chance of getting there.
I’m not sure if there is a better definition of what is wrong with religion and specifically Christianity in America. Last week we read Jesus in the Gospel of mark telling the disciples “how hard it is to enter the reign of God” (Mark 10:24) and that it is only possible with God (Mark 10:27). 93% of America has accepted the cheery notion of an easy heaven. They have accepted the Gospel without feeling the weight of the law. Matt 7:21 might be instructive to those thinking of a warm-fuzzy Jesus.
And you get the quip that we are all Pelagians now, which goes hand in hand with the above. If you think you can save yourself thorugh moral improvement, the natural consquence is a watering down of the the level of moral improvement needed until the general notion of I’m a good person, after all I’m not Charles Manson, is the required bar. What I’d really like to know is why those 7% didn’t think they had a good chance at heaven. Probably the 3.5% hard core atheists who object to the question and the 3.5% that have read the gospels.