Some notes on Pelagianism

This is coming from class today…

Pelagius, flanked by two ministers of his chur...
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  • The human will is unspoiled
  • Adam’s sin affected only himself
  • There is no inherited sin from Adam
  • Each person is born, like Adam, with free-will
  • Each person is responsible for his/her standing for God
  • God’s grace is offered to all people
  • These views were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431

Wow. Awesome, you know, that except it takes the onus off of God who gives the gift and places it squarely on the person who really has no need for God, if they can keep from sinning…. at least in my opinion.

Pelagius saw the horrors of Rome and, like others after him, started to make him question doctrines.

Then, Augustine comes along and started a reaction against Pelagius. He stresses original sin and it is an active power that lives in all people. It is not merely the act of separation brought on by Adam, but it is the guilt, the lingering sin, the thing that pushes us into evil. Then, with this, comes baptizing children (which was actually done earlier) and a whole host of issues. But, it also stresses that only God is able to save us – without works, without anything by God’s gift.

There are both points that I like, but what it really comes down to is the two people. Pelagius was a holy man, a monk, a believer who all his life lived to God. Augustine was a demonic man who gave into every lust that he could possible feel. Surely, these experiences fed into their theology, which caused them to be subjective when they shaped their doctrine and theology.

Grace…Grace…. God’s Grace…

I don’t believe that neither man was completely right. Personally, the idea that we can make the right choices, do what is good, and then somehow break into or earn salvation bothers me. Yes, I believe that we do the works which keep it, but God calls us before, sets us apart, and then enables us to choose. I believe in the Grace that goes before, and pulls us in, calling us and cleansing us. We cannot choose God until He calls us, but I do believe we can just hang up if we want.

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3 Replies to “Some notes on Pelagianism”

  1. I’m not endorsing the man’s entire system by any means, but God’s grace isn’t cheapened or rendered superfluous by the theoretical lack of necessary sin. In fact, it deals with infant and young child death a lot better, and we all know that no human past the age of three (at best) has ever remained sinless, so the “pulling up of oneself by one’s bootstraps” is not possible within that system as a practical matter.

  2. I agree that the idea of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is in fact not possible. However I agree with you assessment of the subjective differences to which Augustine and Pelagius approached their theology. I am no great fan of Augustine, and I fear that some of his early Manichean influences coupled with his early depravity is what led to his “Total Depravity” and “Original Sin” theories. I call them theories because I am still not completely convinced that either are 100% biblically based. Without Christ and the Holy Spirit, we are definitely depraved and in need of divine assistance to live holy lives, but I fear that Augustine may have taken these ideas a bit too far.

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