Dec 03

I have never been accused of holding the doctrine of Pelagianism, but here is what it is.

“Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius (ad. 354 – ad. 420/440). It is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid.

Thus, Adam’s sin was ‘to set a bad example’ for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as ’setting a good example’ for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam’s bad example).

In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism).

According to Pelagian doctrine, because humanity does not require God’s grace for salvation (beyond the creation of will),[1] Jesus’ execution is devoid of the redemptive quality ascribed to it by orthodox Christian theology.”
wikipedia: Pelagianism

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11 Responses to “Pelagianism”

  1. 1. Primitive Christianity Says:

    Greetings!
    This is an interesting subject to me, because just a few weeks ago I was reading up on it.
    The bottom line is that Pelagius was closer to the truth, in my opinion, than his opponent Augustine. Pelagius argued that humans were counted sinners because they chose to do wrong when a circumstance confronted them (like looking at pornography).
    Augustine and company argued that Bob Mutch and Mike Atnip are guilty of Adam’s sin of eating the fruit in the garden, because the guilt of that “original sin” is transferred to us.
    The opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article is not a balanced view of Pelagianism. It focuses on the doctrine of original sin. Basically Pelagius-and me also-did not believe that Adam’s descendants were guilty of Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit. Adam was guilty of his own sin, but we are not born guilty for his sin (which is why some folks say we need infant baptism).
    We are “made sinners” by inheriting Adam’s nature bent towards selfishness. And when we begin following the nature that Adam gave to mankind, we make ourselves sinners.
    Pelagius argued that mankind could choose to live a sinless life, aided by the grace of God. His opponents said this was impossible, and attacked him for supposedly denying grace. He never said grace was unnecessary, but said that sin is a result of men choosing to sin, and that we could therefore choose not to sin and grace would help us to live it out. His opponents accused him of denying grace altogether.
    I read a lot of Augustine’s accusations against him, and also what little is available directly from Pelagius’ own writings. I feel that Augustine took Pelagius out of context in many cases, because he did not like Pelagius’ “free-will” teaching that made man responsible for his own sin. Augustine taught, of course, predestination and the accompanying “Calvinistic” doctrines that say man has little or nothing to do with his own salvation.
    Here is a quote from Wikipedia, by a follower of Pelagius:
    An unknown Pelagian, “Under the plea that it is impossible not to sin, they are given a false sense of security in sinning…Anyone who hears that it is not possible for him to be without sin will not even try to be what he judges to be impossible, and the man who does not try to be without sin must perforce sin all the time, and all the more boldly because he enjoys the false security of believing that it is impossible for him not to sin…But if he were to hear that he is able not to sin, then he would have exerted himself to fulfil what he now knows to be possible when he is striving to fulfil it, to achieve his purpose for the most part, even if not entirely.”
    Anyways, it is an interesting study, as I found it is essentially the same arguments used today to deny sin-free living. I am not saying Pelagius was totally on track or balanced, but I see him as definitely closer to the Word of God than Augustine was.
    Mike

  2. 2. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Mike;
    >>>The bottom line is that Pelagius was closer to the truth, in my opinion, than his opponent Augustine.

    That is not saying much for him. The fact remains that if God did not awaken people to their need of salvation they would never come to him. While I reject the Total Depravity that the Calvinist teach in that they hold man is so depraved God has to saved him first before he can make any steps toward God, I do embrace the Wesleyan-Arminian view that we are depraved to the point that if God would not awake us and draw is we would never come to him.

    >>>We are “made sinners” by inheriting Adam’s nature bent towards selfishness. And when we begin following the nature that Adam gave to mankind, we make ourselves sinners.

    I would hold that the Bible teaches we are born into this word with a fallen nature or the Adam nature. In this we are different that Adam as Adam never had to sin. Because of the Adamic nature we will sin.

    If man didn’t have an Adamic nature then it would be possible that he wouldn’t sin and hence would not need Christ or salvation.

  3. 3. Sir JoN Says:

    BoB Mutch: “The fact remains that if God did not awaken people to their need of salvation they would never come to him.”

    - So the logical conclusion from your doctrine is, that those ppl who are going to Hell, are going to Hell because God chose NOT the awaken those people to their need of salvation. Therefore it has to be, that ppl have to respond to the call of God and after then, God will truly awaken them … otherwise the burden of responsibility lies on God’s own hands.

  4. 4. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Sir JoN,

    The logical conclusion of my doctrine is not that the people who are going to hell are going to hell because God chose not to awaken then. How ever that is the logical conclusion of the Calvinist doctrine which I consider a doctrine of devils and blasphemy.

    I agree that God is morally and ethically responsibility to awaken sinners to there state and give them a very clear understanding of what they must do to be saved from the damnation to come.

    Because people are born into this world with a severe moral disability (programmed to sin due to their fallen spiritual nature and as spiritual being living in a body that is inclined to cause them to sin), for God to be ethically just he must give each person a very clear opportunity to be redeemed.

    I reject the concept that God can be ethically just and bring a race of people into being that are severely morally disabled, command them to do repent and accept Jesus as their master and follow him but refuse to give them the ability do this and then damn them in hell for not doing what he commanded them to do when he knew they couldn’t do it.

    I could see the devil doing this but not a ethically just God.

  5. 5. Chris Says:

    Hi, My friend put together some information that shows that Pelagius actually taught what Christ and His Apostles taught, and that many misunderstand what it was that he taught. Here is the link:

    http://thesinmuststop.org/pages/Pelagius.html

  6. 6. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Do you believe that we can come to God through Christ with out the drawing of God and preceding grace that he give to enable us to come to God? I would expect you to say no.

    Then the question is did Pelagius teach that you could come to God with out preceding grace?

    From what I can tell Pelagius taught this?

    Thanks!

    Bob.

  7. 7. Chris Says:

    Bob,

    I personally believe that yes, God’s love draws all people to Him with His grace and love and it is our responsibility to respond to this. Pelagius also teaches the same thing. He mentions that it is God’s love that draws us and that it is up to us to yield to this calling, or refuse it. I wish I had a citing here and now, which I don’t, but I have read alot of the commentary on Romans and know this is his position. He doesn’t deny God’s grace like many say, he just balances it off with our free will and ability to accept or reject God’s grace.

    John 12:32
    “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL peoples to Myself.”

    Titus 2:11-12
    For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men, TEACHING us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.

    1 John 4:19
    We love Him because He first loved us…

  8. 8. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Then would you hold that part 2 of the following statement on Wikipedia is incorrect? While part 1 (no-original sin) is a minority teaching and I disagree with it, I think the teaching that the “mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid” is a very serious error.

    “It is the belief that [1] original sin did not taint human nature and that [2] mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.”
    wikipedia: Pelagianism.

    I think that if children are born with pure with out a tainted human nature (moral depravity of the spirit) and they can chose good without any divine aid, then it is possible for them to live pure like Adam and Eve did before the fall and they would have no need of salvation from sin. If there is no sin there is no need to be saved from sin. If there is no need to be saved from sin then there they have no need of a Savior.

    Hence I reject the main point of Pelagianism for that reason. There are others like Finney who held no original sin but reject the distinguishing Pelagian which is people are able to choose good without divine aid.

    Thanks!

    Bob.

  9. 9. Chris Says:

    The Bible does not teach Prevenient grace or the Effectual Calling.

    You say: “I think that if children are born with pure with out a tainted human nature and they can chose good without any divine aid, then it is possible for them to live pure like Adam and Eve did before the fall and they would have no need of salvation from sin.”

    A child does live pure before they fall. Just like Adam and Eve.

    Once someone chooses to disobey, they need a Saviour.

    You see? Adam and Eve were righteous in God’s sight as long as they kept from disobeying Him. As soon as they disobeyed Him, they were morally separated from Him and needed cleansing.

    Did Adam and Eve’s “purity” before the fall keep them from sinning and from needing God’s forgiveness?

  10. 10. andy Says:

    Hello Chris,

    I agree with you Chris. We are not born without a sinful nature. We grow up and choose to sin because of the influence of sin around us, the flesh, the devil and the world. We could grow up and never sin but we can’t. It’s like two professional basketball teams playing against each other. Each team has the possibility of going the whole game without missing a shot. But its never going to happen. Someone is going to miss a shot for whatever reason. So it is with us and sin. We have the possibility of never sinning but its not going to happen. (And if someone did live without sinning their whole life then they would go to heaven anyway because they would be walking in pure love and humility and obedience to the moral law of God). It has been done Jesus did it. Let’s not forget about Rom.2:14,15 where gentiles naturally follow the law from their hearts though they don’t possess the law yet they are freed from guilt

  11. 11. Larry Says:

    Andy,
    Paul was not insinuating that some Gentiles go their whole life without sinning. He was simply showing that because of the conscience inherited from Adam (we received the knowledge of good and evil) that subjection to some things can be witnessed in an uneducated Gentile reflecting a respect for particular truths.

    You make no reference to the new birth and change that Jesus’ death and resurrection made available. A new ‘divine nature’ has been introduced by the NT. You seem to be dealing from a single deck where the basic human nature issue has no alternatives.
    Yes, a group of Gentiles in a certain area of behaviour may by virtue of their own conscience have arrived at submission to the truth in that area of behaviour. But they are not “freed from guilt” overall, due to the sin nature inherited from Adam and Eve, the result of receiving the knowledge of good and evil.

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