Friday, February 16, 2007


Pelagius was a British monk who moved to Rome sometime around 400AD. Not much is known about him before this time, but he started a controversy in the church that was very hotly debated in the 5th century, and indeed is still debated today, although in a slightly different form.
When Pelagius came to Rome, he was appalled by the moral laxity of the professing christians. He blamed this moral laxity on the teachings of church leaders such as St. Augustine. I will write more about Augustine later, but his writings have heavily influenced what most consider orthodox christianity. There are a lot of buzz words that are associated with his writings, such as original sin, and I don't want to get bogged down chasing those rabbits yet.
Pelagius became really worked up when he heard someone quote a prayer from Augustine's work Confessions.

Give me what you command and command what you will.
Pelagius agreed with the last part of this statement, but the first part was of concern to him. It implies that God has to give us the ability to keep God's commands. To use more modern terms, Pelagius thought that it made man a robot or a puppet.
Pelagius taught that man was created in the image of God, and therefore has within himself the moral ability to keep God's commandments. He taught that there were in fact people besides Christ who lived sinless lives. The grace of God helps, but it is not necessary in order to live a holy life.
The debate between Pelagius and Augustine widened to many other areas, such as free will, the extent of the fall of man after the sin of Adam (original sin), the necessity of grace, and infant baptism. Augustine was eventually able to use his persuasion to have Pelagius declared a heretic.
Not much is known about Pelagius after this point. Some say he died in Palestine, others say he became frustrated and headed to Africa or the Middle East. Much of his original teachings have been lost, and therefore carried down by his followers. His teachings became known as Pelagianism.
I will write more about Pelagianism later, but in my opinion, Pelagianism in it's raw form can be compared to modern day humanism (which will also be discussed later).


  1. John said...
    Questions about Pelagius and Augustine are of no real relevance.
    What has that really got to do you with you right now in Feb 2007?
    Perhaps you should begin to ask some Real questions?
    For instance:
    Brett said...
    I am hoping to give some knowledge to those Christians who think church history started with Billy Graham.
    I browsed the links, but didn't read in detail. However, I don't have to look at every piece of garbage in detail to smell it.
    Dad & Mom said...
    In the early 5th century Pelagius and Augustine were part of the major differences between the Celtic Church and Rome. They even had differences to which had the proper hair cut. Strange that Pelagius was tried and aquited by the Bishop of Jerusalem who was then more than equal to the Bishop of Rome.

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