Pelagianism, Original Sin and the Druid influence on Celtic Christianity

Pelagius was a Celtic Christian who defied the Continental Church's doctrine of inherited original sin.

Original sin states that humans are descended from Adam and Eve who sinned, and this sin somehow became integrated into the human genome, so even babies are born as sinners. Consequently, infants who die unbaptized burn in hell for all eternity!

There's evidence that Pelagius was influenced in his liberal theology by the Druids, or may actually have been a Christianised Druid, see:


Incurably Pelagian
The doctrine of original sin and damnation of unbaptised babies was forcefully re-asserted by the Continental church, with Pelagius being denounced as a heretic, and Pelagianism, along with the rebellious Celtic Church, being finally suppressed at the Council of Whitby in 664 AD. 

Well, that's what they thought.

For despite the persecution, the Old Druid refused to lie down. He's continued to pop up in British Spirituality in different disguises ever since, causing the authoritarian but exasperated Continental Theologian Karl Barth to denounce British Christianity as being incurably Pelagian.

Rational evaluation of Pelagianism
In the end, science has shown Pelagius to be correct. The Genesis account of creation and the story of Adam and Eve have been disproved by evidence from geology, comparitive genetics, cosmology, continental drift, isotope dating etc.

The idea that Adam and Eve inserted sin genes into the human chromosomes causing their transmission down the generations is a form of Lysenkoism, which has been shown to be unlikely by our modern understanding of the mechanisms of gene expression resulting from 20th century work on DNA, RNA, protein synthesis and so on.

The doctrine of original sin is an example of theological  essentialism, a pretty nasty set of dogmas which have fortunately all been disproved by modern science.

Essentialism was once orthodox in many forms of Christianity, but is nowadays restricted to a few Creationists, Lysenkoists, dogmatic Continental theologians and Biblical literalists. After all, what sort of creepy weirdo or sick, sadistic child-abuser gets a buzz from the thought of 'sinful' unbaptized children roasting in agony for all eternity?

No wonder that Richard Dawkins said that the idea of Original Sin was "barking mad"!

Comparative religion
Buddhists believe that all sentient creatures, no matter how afflicted by temporary delusions, have a still, calm core of their being called Buddha-seed - pure love and compassion for all other suffering sentient beings. This ultimate inner awareness is NOT corrupt or sinful, but is totally reliable and will one day emerge from its delusions as the mind of an enlightened being. (Hence the symbolism of the Jewel in the Lotus growing out of the mud at the bottom of the lake).

The Friends have a similar concept of an inner manifestation of Christ, which is accessible to everyone without the need for any authoritarian ecclesiastical bureaucracy. Again, this inner light is completely reliable. 

Unlike Augustine, the Buddhists and Friends don't instruct their adherents to contemplate the sinfulness of everyone they meet, but to seek out the Christ/Buddha potential in all mankind/sentient beings.

Druid's karma splatters dogma
So no matter what Karl Barth's or Saint Augustine's Continental doctrines may require, we're sorry guys but we are Celts, we assume innocence until guilt is proved.
The babies aren't for burning!

Celtic spirituality  | Druid philosophy 

Do not go for refuge to Samsaric Gods

Buddhists and Druids  |  Process philosophy


Pelagian links: