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What on earth is Pelagianism?

7DTW AuthorIcon75 What on earth is Pelagianism?

Pelagius What on earth is Pelagianism?What is Pelagianism

Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam’s sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement. It simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will. With regards to salvation, it teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation. Pelagianism is overwhelmingly incompatible with the Bible and was historically opposed by Augustine(354-430), Bishop of Hippo, leading to its condemnation as a heresy at Council of Carthage in 418 A.D. These condemnations were summarily ratified at the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431).

Discussion

Pelagius was a monk from Britain, whose reputation and theology came into prominence after he went to Rome sometime in the 380’s A.D. The historic Pelagian theological controversy involved the nature of man and the doctrine of original sin.

Pelagius believed that the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin (the Fall) were restricted to themselves only; and thereby denied the belief that original sin was passed on (or transferred) to the children of Adam and thus to the human race. Adam’s sin merely “set a bad example” for his progeny and Jesus “set a good example” for mankind (thus counteracting Adam’s bad example). Pelagianism teaches that human beings are born in a state of innocence with a nature that is as pure as that which Adam was given at his creation.

As a result of his basic assumption, Pelagius taught that man has an unimpaired moral ability to choose that which is spiritually good and possesses the free will, ability, and capacity to do that which is spiritually good. This resulted in a gospel of salvation based on human works. Man could choose to follow the precepts of God and then follow those precepts because he had the power within himself to do so.

The controversy came to a head when Pelagian teaching came into contact with Augustine. Augustine did not deny that man had a will and that he could make choices. But, Augustine recognized that man did not have a free will in moral issues related to God, asserting that the effects original sin were passed to the children of Adam and Eve and that mankind’s nature was thereby corrupted. Man could choose what he desired, but those desires were influenced by his sinful nature and he was unable to refrain from sinning.

Pelagius cleared himself of charges, primarily by hiding his real beliefs; however, at the Council of Carthage in 418 A.D., his teachings were branded as heresy. The Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., again condemned Pelagian doctrine and it was banished in the Greek portion of the church. However, in the West, the teachings held on, primarily in Britain and Gaul.

Pelagian teaching was replaced with Semi-Pelagianism which sought a middle ground between Pelagianism and Augustinianism, but it too was condemned at the Second Synod of Orange in 529 A.D. However, elements of Semi-Pelagianism continued in the Western (Roman) church. It emerged again after the Reformation in modified form in Arminianism which was rejected by the Reformed churches at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619 A.D.  –

[DTW note:  I do not agree with Augustine (he was a Calvinist/Roman Catholic) -  I just used the above to illustrate the theology and history of Pelagianism]

—————-

Calvinists (who willingly take their name after the murderer John Calvin) seem to think that everyone who is not a Calvinist must also take their name from someone (bizarre, I know), so they classify non-Calvinists as Arminians after Jacob Arminius, (note, I am not an Arminian).  Now the new buzz word in the Calvinist camp is ‘Pelagian’.  Soon you will find all non-Calvinists labelled Pelanians a cross between an Arminian and a Pelagian, lol – what a joke.

Now I have been labelled a Pelagian, by a certain individual who has not bothered to study my blog properly.  In fact he is Calvinist cross Charismatic and doesn’t even understand his own false doctrine, so we will have to forgive him for his error.

Never the less I will clarify why I am not a Pelagian

My notes in blue.

  • Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall.     DTW note: I do not, I view humanity as depraved and morally affected by the Fall.
  • Pelagius believed that the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin (the Fall) were restricted to themselves only; and thereby denied the belief that original sin was passed on (or transferred) to the children of Adam and thus to the human race.    DTW note: No not true, Adam and Eves sin was passed onto the rest of mankind.
  • Pelagianism simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will.    DTW note:  I view man as fundamentally evil and in possession of free will, which God sovereignty gave to mankind.
  • Pelagianism teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation.    DTW note:  No, everyone is called by God through the work of the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, however mankind can turn his back on God’s calling, because we have free will.
  • Adam’s sin merely “set a bad example” for his progeny and Jesus “set a good example” for mankind (thus counteracting Adam’s bad example).    DTW note:  Absolutely false, Adam’s sinned and was passed onto mankind.  Jesus does not set a good example for mankind to follow, thereby counteracting anything of Adams.  Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
  • Pelagianism teaches that human beings are born in a state of innocence with a nature that is as pure as that which Adam was given at his creation.    DTW note:  True, until such an age that you know good from evil. This age is dependent upon the child, some children learn the difference between good and evil earlier than others. Calvinists believe that a new born baby is evil.
  • Pelagius taught that man has an unimpaired moral ability to choose that which is spiritually good and possesses the free will, ability, and capacity to do that which is spiritually good.    DTW note:  False, man will choose do that which is evil because of his sinful nature, but he does have the capacity to do good (God gave man a conscience), this ‘good that man does’ however is still filthy in the eyes of the Lord.
  • This resulted in a gospel of salvation based on human works. Man could choose to follow the precepts of God and then follow those precepts because he had the power within himself to do so.    DTW note:  False, good works are as filthy rags to the Lord. Good works do not save.  
  • Pelagianism says that human beings are not born with a natural inclination towards sin.     DTW note:  False, the Bible teaches that all human beings die as a result of sin – Adam’s sin is the reason sin infects the rest of humanity.
  • Semi-Pelagianism teaches that humanity is only tainted by sin, but not to the extent that we cannot cooperate with God’s grace on our own.   DTW note:  This is again false, the bible clearly teaches that everyone is called by God through the work of the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) – There is none other than the Father who can draw sinners to Jesus Christ because there is no other way than through His cross that He can do it.            
Problem solved.
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17 comments to What on earth is Pelagianism?

  • Martin Horan

    Thank you very much for the above, Deborah.
    I didn’t know till having read the article what Palagianism actually is.
    Now I understand the name for the present teachings of Robert Schuller and Billy Graham. That’s good for me because from now on, when these men crop up in any discussion, I can now sum up their teachings in a word rather than try to explain where they differ from Scripture.
    I enjoyed reading your notes too. They are straight to the point and self-explanatory.
    It is annoying when people accuse us of something we’re not.
    A few days ago I was accused by a Calvinist of being a Roman Catholic, though he knows my views on Catholicism. Ironically, he is an Amillenialist, and I think a preterist (as he contradicts himself so much, I’m not too sure) which makes him more of a Catholic than I ever was!
    He also accused me of being “a follower of the Jesuit Dave Hunt”! This is the same Dave Hunt who believes in the Rapture and that the Woman riding the Beast of Revelation is the Vatican. This is the same Dave Hunt and is accused by Catholics of being a Catholic Basher. He must be the world’s strangest Jesuit.
    It’s sometimes hard to believe that Calvinists themselvesreally believe what they are saying.
    You are dead right about Calvinists thinking we take our names from someone–or something in my case–as equally bizarre as in their own beliefs.
    Yes, it really is a joke; but it’s one we can only hope they’ll soon realize is just a joke.
    God bless.

  • Andy

    I am neither calivinist nor arminian. I’m a John 3:16 guy, a Bible guy and I’m guaranteed going to heaven based on Jesus Christ alone :)

    Calvinism is false, so they have to come up with labels for everyone else, since they forced a label on themselves.

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    Martin

    >> I didn’t know till having read the article what Palagianism actually is.

    Funny I didn’t know either until I was accused of being one. It made me go and find out what it was all about and I was quite flabbergasted.

    >> Now I understand the name for the present teachings of Robert Schuller and Billy Graham. That’s good for me because from now on, when these men crop up in any discussion, I can now sum up their teachings in a word rather than try to explain where they differ from Scripture.

    Really? I think there are manyyyy more of them genuineeeee Pelagians around.

    >> I enjoyed reading your notes too. They are straight to the point and self-explanatory.

    Thank you, that was the intention, short and to the point :)

    >> It is annoying when people accuse us of something we’re not.

    VERY ANNOYING!! Especially when you tell the person you are not and they still publish lies saying you are. Pfff… oh well, what can you do except publish an article explaining the truth.

    >> A few days ago I was accused by a Calvinist of being a Roman Catholic, though he knows my views on Catholicism. Ironically, he is an Amillenialist, and I think a preterist (as he contradicts himself so much, I’m not too sure) which makes him more of a Catholic than I ever was!

    They do contradict themselves so much don’t they. It’s like you can see bits of this doctrine and bits of that doctrine all combined into their thinking…

    >> He also accused me of being “a follower of the Jesuit Dave Hunt”! This is the same Dave Hunt who believes in the Rapture and that the Woman riding the Beast of Revelation is the Vatican. This is the same Dave Hunt and is accused by Catholics of being a Catholic Basher. He must be the world’s strangest Jesuit.

    Dave Hunt a Jesuit? LOL, Oh my, then I am the toothfairy.

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    Right on Andy!!

  • Carm

    Calvin was a Jew, Jean Cohen. Calvin often referred to [his] God as the “Great Architect of the Universe”.
    Here’s a nice quote (from http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com) “The Masonic letter G reminds us that our every act is done in the sight of the Great Architect of the Universe.” The unlucky (or ambitious) who advance high enough up the pyramid get to learn that Lucifer is freemasonry’s Great Architect of the Universe.
    Official explanation is that the mason’s stole Calvin’s label… for his puppetmaster-god…

    Anyways, whatever became of the instruction of not naming yourself after your leader?

    For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? (1 Cor 3:4)

    Sola Scriptura much?

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    Carm

    >> Anyways, whatever became of the instruction of not naming yourself after your leader?
    >>For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? (1 Cor 3:4)
    >>Sola Scriptura much?

    Not at all!

  • Ben

    We do take our name from someone! That is why we proudly call ourselves Christians.

  • Redeemed

    Ben, there are multitudes who claim to be Christians but in name only. Funny, but a Calvinist is a Calvinist (although they claim a difference in how many points, but any of the points are wrong) and some don’t like to be called “Calvinist” I guess because people got wise and it was stigmatized,so some prefer to be referred to as “Reformed”.

  • Carm

    Ben, surely there’s a difference between saying you are a follower of, and believer in, Christ, the Messiah, WHO IS GOD, than saying that you’re colouring your christianity with the teachings of Jenny from the block… and would therefore prefer the more comprehensive label of a Jennite Christian.

  • Ben

    Well, then I am a Bible reading and believing Christian. I understand all to well that many call themselves Christian but are not living it out. Sadly, I think that is shows a bit of laziness when some base their spiritual lives mainly on the doctrines of man and defend them so vigorously. We must always go back to the Bible and search it for our ultimate truth and defend it vigorously.

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    Ben

    >> Sadly, I think that is shows a bit of laziness when some base their spiritual lives mainly on the doctrines of man and defend them so vigorously

    Actually not laziness, but sin. People want to continue in their sin, this is why they carry on defending doctrines of demons so vigorously. For instance, you see the doctrine of Calvinism believe it or not allows you to be ‘who you are’ that is the Elect and if you are Elect, chosen before birth, you technically do not have to repent of your sin (even though they do preach about repentance). Calvinism has two ideas that they use to combat the area of ‘sin’ in their prideful lives and it’s called Lordship Salvation or they just call you a legalist for ever mentioning sin in the first place lol.

  • rey

    You should read Pelagius’ commentary on Romans and Pelagius’ Life and Letters. If you can only buy one I’d go with the commentary on Romans. In the Life and Letters, only one of the letters “To Demetrius” is for sure by Pelagius, the rest being by Pelagians or those who were assumed to be Pelagians (I doubt it on some of the letters).

  • rey

    “Pelagius believed that the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin (the Fall) were restricted to themselves only; and thereby denied the belief that original sin was passed on (or transferred) to the children of Adam and thus to the human race. DTW note: No not true, Adam and Eves sin was passed onto the rest of mankind.”

    No not true is right, because if you read Pelagius’ commentary on Romans 5, that’s not what he says.

    From his comments on Romans 5:15 “Besides, if the soul does not exist by transmission, but the flesh alone, then only the flesh carries the transmission of sin and it alone deserves punishment.” (Pelagius’s Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle To The Romans, by Theodore de Bruyn [translator], Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2002, pg. 94)

    Here he is referring to Augustine’s doctrine that a part of the soul of the parents is transmitted to the offspring just as the flesh is, and is saying if that is not true (as obviously it isn’t) then the punishment of Adam’s sin can only be transmitted to our flesh not to our souls: in other words, Adam’s sin cannot damn us to hell but only to morality. So Pelagius does not say that Adam’s sin only affected Adam. He says it affects all of us, but only in that it makes us all mortal not that it damns us to hell.

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    rey

    I understand, thanks!

  • Alameen Templeton

    Come to Islam. None of these “problems” would need to be “solved” by Pelagius or any other kind of deep-water fish. Adam existed, we were born sinless, there is no god but God, he is one, indivisible, pure and perfect, he does not beget, not is he begotten. We are answerable only for our own deeds, and to be reborn one needs to return to that state we were in when in the womb – completely unaware of a separation between ourselves and God, unaware of ourselves, of pride, of conceit or fear, unaware of hunger or greed, aware only of God, of a complete and absolute union with God. Our only purpose in life is to worship God. There is no other reason for existence. Submit.

  • Deborah (Discerning the World)

    Alameen

    >> Come to Islam.

    No thanks :) Come to Jesus Christ. We have found huge issues with Islam and the Koran that we have documented here: Please read: South African Islamic Propagation Centre International says Christian God has Faecal Fetish and Slavery in the Bible? – Accusations made by Atheists and Muslim Scholars

    >> we were born sinless,

    1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

    1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    Why do you go to Mosque and pray so often if you are sinless? If you are sinless that means you are by rights a ‘god’?

    >> there is no god but God, he is one, indivisible, pure and perfect, he does not beget, not is he begotten

    There is only One Living God, He is One, omniscicent, omnipresent, Holy and Just, God manifests Himself to mankind as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sin, that you can believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.

    Since the you are Muslim and believe in Unitarianism, it obviously doesn’t make sense to you for God have the power to split himself up, but He is not splitting Himself up. Understand…God is a Trinity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in 3 distinct, yet inseparable Persons) then it makes perfect sense, and God is fully capable of existing in this state because HE IS GOD.

    John 10:30 Jesus said; “I and my Father are one.”

    John 14:7-10
    Jesus said;
    John 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
    John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
    John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
    John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

    Satan on the other hand is indivisible, acts pure but he is not, acts perfect but he is not, he does not beget nor will he ever be begotten.

  • Sharon

    Amen Andy! I have had Calvinist immediately say to me that since I’m not a Calvinist (thank God) then I must be Arminian or just plain lost. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. He is my Savior, My King and my soon coming Bridegroom. Yes, I am also a Baptist by conviction, but not all Baptist churches are right. My very best friend of 53 years embraced the false teachings of John Calvin in 2004. It truly breaks my heart. She will not read anything I suggest even when I have been gracious enough to read what ever she has given me. The thing that hurt me the most was when she said, “well, I do believe you’re saved.” I guess that makes me the 1st non-elect to be saved. :0)

    Andy wrote:

    I am neither calivinist nor arminian. I’m a John 3:16 guy, a Bible guy and I’m guaranteed going to heaven based on Jesus Christ alone :)

    Calvinism is false, so they have to come up with labels for everyone else, since they forced a label on themselves.

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