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Much as I appreciated Mark Jenkins’ review of Philip Freeman’s St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography (“A Little Pat,” 4/2), I think he is completely clueless about Pelagianism. Of course Christians have responsibility for their actions. However, even Christians who aren’t “sticklers for dogma” reject the notion that they could achieve salvation through good works. Were this possible, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross would have been pointless.
The essence of Christianity is that, while created in the image of God, humankind, through its own fault, lacks the means of being just in God’s sight. Because the initiative could not come from humankind, God, through his infinite love of humankind, chose to bridge the gap through the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Of course, good works on the part of Christians are the appropriate response to this divine initiative. However, no amount of good works done on the part of Christians can merit salvation in the eyes of God, who has already paid the price necessary to reconcile human imperfection with the divine nature.