• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,395,575 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,271 other followers

  • February 2013
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

The Pelagian Heresy

PelagiusPelagianism teaches that man’s free will is unimpaired. There is no influence that shackles or dominates man’s choice between good and evil. Man has all the power he ever had, or needs to have, to will and to do what is spiritually good. This teaching is contrary to the concept of Adam’s fall being the cause of man’s being born a sinner. Pelagianism argues that the consequences of Adam’s sins were restricted to him and were not transmitted to his posterity. Pelagianism argues that man enters the world with as pure a nature as Adam had possessed in innocence. This belief requires turning the Gospels into a remedial scheme rather than a plan to recover man from original sin by grace. This is in direct contrast to Paul and Augustine’s teaching that humanity was completely helpless in Adam’s sin and in desperate need of grace. Augustine did not deny that man had a will and that he could make choices. He simply recognized that man did not have a free will in moral issues related to God. Augustine recognized that the Scriptures taught that the effects of original sin were passed to the children of Adam and Eve and therefore, mankind’s nature was corrupted. Man could choose what he desired, but those desires are influenced by his sinful nature and thus, he sins.


Pelagius, a British monk, is considered to be the father of this heresy. It was condemned by more church councils than any other heresy in history. Pelagianism may have been condemned, but it was certainly the most popular and widespread tendency among the masses. This is no surprise, since thinking highly of ourselves and the possibilities for personal self-improvement are part of our sinful condition. We are all Pelagians by nature. Pelagianism is a gospel of works.

The Bible teaches:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. . .” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV)

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6 ESV)

Samuel at Gilgal

10 Responses

  1. Imagine! We would all be damned if eternal life was based on our own direction. That is not the word of God, and negates King Jesus’s sinless life and sacrificial death for the atonement of our sins. Nobody gets to the Father but through the Son. It’s a hard concept to grasp, because human nature is disobedient and rebels against submission. Great piece. Thank you.


  2. pelagius never taught that someone could ‘actually’ live a completely sinless life or that he could ‘merit’ heaven. only that ‘our own’ sin-consequences are what we carry, not anyone elses (even Adam’s). you may want to read pelagius’s words directly rather than what filters down thru so called Reformed Theology and the current crop of popular Calvinistic teachers. might help.


    • All of Pelagius’ ideas were chiefly rooted in the old, pagan philosophy, especially in the popular system of the Stoics, rather than in Christianity, he regarded the moral strength of man’s will, when steeled by asceticism, sufficient in itself to attain the loftiest ideal of virtue. The value of Christ’s redemption was, in his opinion, limited mainly to instruction and example, which the Savior threw into the balance as a counterweight against Adam’s wicked example, so that nature retains the ability to conquer sin and to gain eternal life even without the aid of grace.


      • i’m sorry samuel. but you are misinformed about pelagius if you think his theology comes from a root of paganism. it’s just simply not the case. have a great night, brother


        • “I am therefore free not to have either a good volition or action; but I am by no means able not to have the capacity of good. This capacity is inherent in me, whether I will or no; nor does nature at any time receive in this point freedom for itself. Now the meaning of all this will be rendered clearer by an example or two. That we are able to see with our eyes is not of us; but it is our own that we make a good or a
          bad use of our eyes. So again (that I may, by applying a general case in illustration, embrace all), that we are able to do, say, think, any good thing, comes from Him who has endowed us with this ‘ability,’ and who also assists this ‘ability;’ but that we really do a good thing, or speak a good word, or think a good thought, proceeds from our own selves, because we are also able to turn all these into evil. Accordingly,–and this is a point which needs frequent repetition, because of your calumniation of us,–whenever we say that a man can live without sin, we also give praise to God by our acknowledgment of the capacity which we have received from Him, who has bestowed such ‘ability’ upon us; and there is here no occasion for praising the human agent, since it is God’s matter alone that is for the moment treated of; for the question is not about ‘willing,’ or ‘effecting,’ but simply and solely about that which may possibly be.” (Quoting Pelagius, Defense of the Freedom of the Will)

          In the quotation above, Pelagius is clearly saying that the natural man has already been given the “ability” by God to choose to do good or evil. All men “can live without sin”, according to Pelagius, because God “has bestowed such ‘ability’ upon us.” He is not talking about grace in the since of what Christ has done for us; he is saying this is a God-given ability belonging to all natural men. He discards original sin and much of the Scriptures in his conclusions. The Bible teaches us that the natural man is spiritually dead. Pelagius teaches us another gospel which we should not allow to deceive us.

          For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV)

          And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1 ESV)

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

          But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

          The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

          And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— … (Ephesians 2:1-22 ESV)


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: