John Crowder’s Neo-Pelagian Heresy

I’m currently reading Mystical Union by John Crowder and I couldn’t even make it through the introduction before I had to go and grab my trusted Sharpie Pen.  And we all know how much I hate writing in books…but yeah, it was that bad.

Anyways, early on, Crowder states,

There is a two-thousand-year-old heresy that has afflicted the church.

The heresy is this: it is the idea that, as a believer, still have a sinful nature. (23-24)

Umm…what?  Crowder’s comment is in fact the heresy.  Whether he like it or not, the church has decided that Pelagianism is a heresy and what Crowder is saying, is nothing short of neo-Pelagianism.  Just because Crowder says original sin is a heresy doesn’t make it so.

Psalm 51:5 (CEB) states, “Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

We can also turn to several councils and see where Pelagianism has been condemned, the chief of these is the Council of Ephesus or the Third Ecumenical Council.

Since I’m Lutheran, I also turn to the Augsburg Confession:

Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam [Romans 5:12], all who are naturally born are born with sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without fear of Go, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence.  Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin.  It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit [John 3:5].

Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits.  Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own strength and reason. (AC II)

This is nothing short of neo-Pelagiaism and should be dealt with as the heresy that it is.


48 thoughts on “John Crowder’s Neo-Pelagian Heresy

    • I usually don’t go on the offensive and throw around charges of heresy lightly, but John Crowder is DANGEROUS. Scary stuff. Pray for me as I have made a commitment to read not one, but two of his books.

      • I pray that the Lord of Hosts will whack you with an everlasting Love and true drunkenness in the Spirit so that there will be no room for a critical spirit in you. I pray that a true revelation of the Spirit of Christ will engulf you and envelope you and keep you in the creamy center of His Love twinky. I pray that you will be smitten by the knowledge and realization that the Creator of our universe wants to live in you and make you His son. But most of all, I pray that you experience the complete, unmistakeable, unwavering, and unconditional Love of our Father in heaven so that you might be filled with love, peace, joy and happiness in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  1. I don’t know from Crowder but I do know a bit of Pelagianism. I think Pelagius name being associated with the heresy mentioned here is a bit unfair. Pelagius commentary on Romans seems fairly orthodox to me.

    Most of the heresy is based on Augustine’s interpretation of Pelagius and doesn’t include primary sources from Pelagius’ own work.

    Just sayin…..

  2. You know what, I kinda like this approach. If I don’t like something, I can just label it heresy, even if I am myself espousing a well documented heretical viewpoint, and that makes it all ok.
    Sounds a little like politics to me.

    • YES! Great point.
      “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away (as if it never happened, removed as far as the east is from the west etc…) the sin of the world!”
      Just because something doesn’t ‘sit right’ according to my upbringing doesn’t mean it’s heresy or blasphemy. Head knowledge does not make spirit knowledge.

    • Well, now, Tom of Finland, whatever do you mean? Considering I’m more ‘biblical than thou’, I guess you are the liberal heretic, Tom.

  3. This blog takes idiocy to a whole new level. You are LITERALLY judging a book by it’s cover, just because Crowder wrote it. You read the first sentence and jumped to a ridiculous conclusion. The guy doesn’t endorse Pelagianism AT ALL … He FIRMLY believes that all have sinned and all have fallen in Adam. What he’s saying is that the death of Christ has eradicated that sinful nature. Go read your Bible dude (Rom. 6, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2, 1 Cor. 5:17).

    Read an entire book before you write a commentary on it … or at least an entire page of it.

    • Yes! That is exactly right!
      I’ve spoken with John in person and what Craig is saying of him is like nailing him to the cross. (WAIT! Someone already was there… Who was it? … Jesus?)
      Let’s get off the platform of the scribes and pharisees and move on to God!
      I’ll be surprised if any of my comments are ‘approved’ by the ‘moderator’. That’s what happens when man tries to ‘moderate’ God. “Ooooh, too extreme”, “oh no, this guy disagrees with me”, “Let’s criticize and insult him, maybe he’ll go away…”
      The only people Christ criticized were the scribes and pharisees and the hypocrites -because they were so caught up in the selfish pursuit of religion that they missed God.

      • I approve all comments unless they are direct threats against me or my family. You can agree with me/disagree with me/call me an asshole…I don’t care.

      • And it sounds like John has a small Messiah complex as well. Really, my comments equates nailing him to the cross? And for future reference, I don’t like being triangulated, which is what this did.

  4. Oh, and I forgot to subscribe to the email thing. I would hate, absolutely hate, if ole Tom of Finland said something and I wasn’t able to respond. I mean, I wouldn’t want him looking like a coward for saying stuff about me behind my back and not giving me a chance to respond.

      • Well, Tom, I wasn’t the one talking about you on blogs behind your back.

        Why don’t you try making positive contributions and stop taking digs and dives. Bar, raise it, a little.

        You have more than just a few little political disagreements with Jim, I suspect.

        😉 <- that's a wink, indicating I know something that I'm not saying.

  5. “Digs and dives”? Your the master mate! I was somewhat kidding to Rod btw. And the open blog is never behind one’s back! But, I have noted that you have grown-up some, on the blogs, and in some of your theology. So welcome! But, I still don’t like you! And that’s a personal preference, and mine btw. No one has to tell me that!

    Jim W.., well he is at least more of a true paradox, and somewhat eclectic, like even myself. Though he won’t moderate me now, which is fine. A man has to speak his truth and mind, especially a pastor/teacher. But as I have said, deception is always real and human.

    • Are you really comparing yourself to Jim?

      And you still consider yourself a pastor and a teacher?

      You do digs and dives well, and I’ve learned them from you!

      • No, since I am the oldest, he has to measure my bar and standard, as you do also! 😉

        And yes, I know God has called me as a Anglican priest-presbyter, though I am now somewhat semi-retired. It has been my best blessing overall!

        And if you have learned anything from me? I will take that as a complement. As you met JND Kelly through me I believe?

        Keep punch’in though!

      • Do you children see what you’re doing?

        Joel, you say “Well, Tom, I wasn’t the one talking about you on blogs behind your back.
        Why don’t you try making positive contributions and stop taking digs and dives. Bar, raise it, a little.
        You have more than just a few little political disagreements with Jim, I suspect.
        😉 <- that's a wink, indicating I know something that I'm not saying."

        Dude that is exactly what you are doing!
        Christ said:"Do you perceive the speck in your brothers eye? Stop and remove the plank out of your own eye before you judge your brother."
        C'mon guys… How do you expect to get along in heaven if you can't love each other here?

  6. Hey “I’m a former American Baptist turned Agnostic turned Lutheran. I have a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary” Craig, it sounds like you’re still searching for the Way, the Truth and the Life. LOL
    Seriously though, you will not find God in man-made and man-controlled religion. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lutheran, Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, 7th Day Adventist, Baptist, Agnostic, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Free Methodist, No Methodist, Free Church, Vineyard, Full Gospel, Not So Full Gospel, Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Canadian Baptist, Iraqian Baptist, John The Baptist, or even a graduate of Oral Roberts university. Like Larry Norman (R.I.P.) sang “without Love you are nothing”. Without Love we are nothing but a clanging cymbal. We are just white noise, an annoyance, a nagging spouse, something we close our ears to.
    When Christ gave Himself for us on the cross He really gave Himself for us! All we have left to do is accept the finished works of Christ on the cross. He did it all. There is nothing left for us to do to attain salvation but believe that God incarnate paid an eternal price for our souls so that we would never again have to try to establish favor with God by our works and sacrifices.
    I grew up in a stifling, religious, legalistic church where they would punish you for farting in church. GOD CREATED FARTS! Perhaps just to squeeze a smirk out of the staunchiest grump you know of in your congregation….
    Seriously, does man really know more than God? Is man the controller of God? Why do movements of God get stifled as soon as man starts thinking they had something to do with it? Revival is God’s domain. Religion is man’s domain. I’d rather err on the side of Grace than on the side of religion.
    Hey check this out and see if it stirs up any religious spirits: “Shaka boom bah!”
    ROTFLITS (Rolling On The Floor Laughing In The Spirit)
    Love ya bro.

    • Except you failed to take into account the length of time between those. I’ve been a happy Lutheran for over 10 years now, so no, I am not “searching for the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

  7. Hi Guys,

    I don’t think it’s accurate to compare John with Pelagius. Pelagius believed humans are able to to live a sinless life without divine aid. His belief system was also heavily steeped in aestheticism and works, which is pretty much the opposite of what John teaches.

    John teaches that we are utterly hopeless to try and and fulfill the law, and the we must rest in the knowledge that Christ had to do it for us. This is pretty biblical. John offends a lot of people because he will state that many Christians have replaced The Law with a “Christian Moral Code” and, in doing so, are still relying on our works to bring us closer to God, a shame, since we are in union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.

    He teaches, essentially, that all our our striving, beating ourselves up, and unnecessary aestheticism is over because Christ accomplished at the cross what we could not do for ourselves. If we’re still doing all this stuff to get “more holy” or closer to God, then we are attempting to add onto what Christ already finished.

    Did a little deeper. Blessings.

    • Crowder can’t quote Martin Luther and then turn around and dismiss the sinful nature. Luther stated that we are at the same time saint and sinner. It’s the name of my blog….just sayin.

  8. this guys is weird……..not talking about original sin because you want to share about the original innocent we have in Christ… sorry thats like judging a rapist on the good kid He was in school, the fact is- the rapist did something He shouldn’t.
    man disobeyed God- we live in sin- God forgives man, and makes a way for us to be free from sin….

  9. in reference to the video……Im sorry but this guys is a joke- amongst other things He is a wacko. you cant dismiss original sin because you want to share on the original innocence we have in Christ- maybe i heard that wrong but thats like judging a rapist on the good kid He was in school. the fact is the rapist did something he shouldnt, now man disobeyed God- we live in sin because of the decision man made- God forgives man and Has a way out of Sin for us (Jesus)

  10. John Crowder does not say that there is no original sin its best to clarify the truth of what he is saying im sure you will agree. What John is saying is that what Jesus did on the cross was a completed work. Jesus’s death on the cross included us and as He died we died (our sinful nature) with Him so we were raised with Him to a newness of life in Him. It is totally biblical, if you were to ask God for a revelation He would take you past the preconditioned teaching and lead you into the freeing reality of the awsome power of His death and ressurrection which is His precious gift to you 🙂

    • I never said Crowder said there was no original sin. Read the post again. As a Lutheran, I believe in this little thing call simul iustus et peccator which means we are, at the same time saint and sinner. Sorry, Crowder is just on the wrong side of the tradition here!

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