The question of whether or not Pelagius, (360-430?) a forth century Monk from
England was a heretic is still determined on Doctrinal bias, specifically, where
a professed Christian stands on the issue of Original Sin. (or sin nature,
inbred sin, sin inherited from Adam) Augustine of Hippo was the designer and
initiator of the doctrine and blended it into Catholic dogma in the forth
century. Since both Catholics and Protestants still believe in varying degrees
of Original Sin (born a sinner, sin nature, inbred corruption) this controversy
remains and you will still be called a heretic by most churches for denying it.
So who’s the real heretic, that’s the question, Augustine or Pelagius?
The premise of this study is focusing on the Truth, anything that detracts form that Truth I consider heresy. Doctrines of men fit that description, as Christ said; ‘You make the Commandments of God of no effect by your doctrines and traditions of men’, the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires active participation and obedience, Striving, counting the cost, putting your hand to the plow and going on to sin no more. There is no mention in Christ teachings about anything called ‘original sin’, or a dual nature that limits man’s ability to do as God commanded. Just hear and do or walk away, it’s your choice, theorizing about ‘sin natures that excuse you from your responsibility are definitely NOT of God. Therefore that’s the bases of this Study, doctrines, behavior and tactics that do not reflect Christian purity and self-control are on the side of heresy with those who teach them. If Doctrines are more important to you than purity and truth, deciding who the real heretics in ancient Rome are will be the same as going to church today. Which ever Church garners your loyalty, its ISM will be your belief; regardless of truth, facts or behavior.
I deny Original Sin, transferred sin, Sin nature, corruption of nature, Adamic nature and ANY Doctrine that implies human nature is hindered by some ‘inbred substance called sin. That makes me a ‘heretic to most of professed Christendom today. Will I be excommunicated by the Catholic Church and hunted down like a dog, as Pelagius and then considered a false teacher forever more by both Catholics and Protestants? Many call me a Pelagian today, should I respond by calling them Catholics, Lutheran, Calvinists, Wesleyans, if I’m teaching Pelagianism, what ISM are you teaching? Certainly not Christ-ISM, since He taught the Way, Truth and life, not philosophies or isms. If this humble monk / friar from Brittan came to Rome teaching another way to the Cross other than Obedience to Christ, then he was indeed a heretic, but he didn’t. Augustine on the other hand majored in the Rhetoric and philosophies of men and was blending Gnostic concepts into Christian teaching. I would call him the heretic and wouldn’t think twice about labeling the emerging Catholic Church as the devil’s own Cathedral. And the passage of time hasn’t changed anything; only in that entire Church System is corrupted to the core, Protestant and Catholic alike, blinded by the doctrines of men. The Reformation may have taken some of the radical element out of professed Christendom, but it certainly didn’t remove any of the fallacies inherited from Rome. The Original sin, sin nature lie is still deeply engrained into almost every church and Christian institution on the planet. To be excluded by them is an honor, they would EXCLUDE Christ! (which they have already done long ago) Pelagius is still their whipping boy and Augustinianism is still their doctrine.
Fact Number One:
Constantine was never a Christian and Rome was never the ekklesia of Jesus Christ! They worshiped the Sun god, NOT the Son of God! And Augustine was Gnostic philosopher devoted to Manichaeism who switched to Christianity when it became the official State religion in 383AD and was blended into the Pagan temples of Rome under the hierarchy of state appointed Bishops and finally a reigning Pope. (who still answered to the Emperor)
I ask you in all honesty is this ANYTHING that even slightly resembles what Christ intended for His Church? There is no such thing as a Pope in the Bible! His ekklesia, called out ones, to be a special people, holy nation who went forth to proclaim the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light! Rome, an unholy institution run by flesh Kings that went forth to inflict a reign of religious terror on mankind that continues to this day. Is that what you wish to defend by calling Pelagius a heretic for teaching that man has free will and the inborn ability to Obey God without some bishop or Pope ruling over him? God help those of you who still cast your allegiance in favor of Augustine, who's heretical doctrines infect EVERY form of dogma in professed Christianity. If you cannot reckon him as the real antagonist in this critical period of history, a chief imposter posing as a great theologian, then you are still part of corrupt institutionalized Christianity under strong delusion defending the same lies that have kept the world in darkness until now. Therefore the historical facts surrounding the kangaroo court (Synod) under Augustine, that found Pelagius guilty of heresy will be of no matter whatsoever, because your bias is 'doctrinal not based on whether or not the truth was told.
FACT Number Two:
The Catholic Church (institution, formed under Constantine) in Rome was NOT Christian. There may have been 'Christians in Rome, remnants of Paul's ministry, but the emerging hierarchical System in Rome cannot be numbered
among the true 'ekklesia of called out ones, lead by Christ. Therefore any rulings, Synods, Councils, Popes, Bishops cannot Stand as valid against the weight of Scripture that defies their very existence. True followers of Jesus Christ do not murder or kill their enemies, nor do they lie, cheat, make false accusations, back bite or harbor any malice toward their detractors. Sinners and known heretics can be excluded, but only as an incentive toward their repentance, never to alienate them from general society or the freedom to go elsewhere as they please.
Fact Number Three:
Even under the false System in Rome, Pelagius was vindicated of all charges against him by two Councils (Synods) two Popes and a number of Bishops who had not entirely bought into the fallacies of Original sin and bondage of the will. The false charge that he denied the need for Grace was repeated over and over again (by Augustine) but in every face to face encounter with others, he emphasized the need for Grace in all things.
From its inception in 313 AD, the Catholic (Universal) Church installed a hierarchal structure antithetical to the Bible.
Dating back to Ignatius of Antioch as early as 100AD, the idea of administrators over the Church had already reared its ugly head, in a letter he wrote to the Smyrnans he said: 'Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.' (see my study on 'Who Benefits')
This System would 'Lord over the laity for centuries to come: 'Consisting of;
first the Priests, under them the Bishops, then Elders, Presbyters, deacons and
finally at the lowest of the low the laity, begging for the crumbs from the
master's table; who dare not question anything the Church decreed. Again,
adverse to the teachings of Christ who told His disciples at the outset:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you, and whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your servant. Matt20:225-26
It Shall NOT be So: 'But he who is greatest among you shall be your servan! Matt23:11 This theme is seen throughout Scripture, no administrative Structure or 'Offices', in fact the word 'office', in 1Tim3:1, was added to the text, it is simply the Greek word, episkopos, overseer, elder, No English version of the Bible, back to the KJV I know of has dropped 'office or position' from the text. The body of the ekklesia was designed for Edification not destruction, each separate member doing its part for the benefit of the whole. Shepherds and elders were appointed to oversee the flock, not 'rule over them. The word Pastor is not in the Bible, rather Shepherds, plural, poiem, serving as overseers not rulers. It was under the false administrative Structure in Rome that the blood letting in the name of God began in earnest and continued for centuries. Deny their dogmas, subjected you to brutal torture and even death, attempt to translate the scriptures into the common language of the people, you're burned at the stake. Pray, recite psalms, passages in any other language but Latin, you and your entire family are burned. Although the Official Roman Church had only existed since 313 up to the time of Augustine and Pelagius, it had established its dominance in the Eastern Empire under the Church / State structure and could exercise its authority far and wide.
Whether or not Pelagius fully realized what he was up against or that he was dealing with men who were false teachers, I can't say for sure. We can look back and see clearly that all roads lead to Rome and every fallacy afoot today in professed Christendom originated from their teachings. (mostly from Augustine) When looking back at this key controversy between Pelagius and Augustine we must keep in mind the circumstances under which is occurred. He did not have the same freedoms we enjoy today in lands where religious freedom is still protected by law. The freedom of expression was closely monitored and could ignite political / religious ire at any moment. Almost any dissension could be considered sedition against the realm and with the Pagans moving in from the North, tensions were high against any upheaval in the Kingdom. The last thing they needed was division in the Church, since it represented consolidation in the minds of the people. Augustine had a lot of clout in high places and he could be a formable enemy to have in any circumstance, Pelagius was a humble and devote man who played by the rules, he was probably taken unawares by the false brethren in high places in Rome. He treated everyone with respect and always argued his case from the Scriptures, but his adversaries used any means necessary against him to achieve their goals. Just like any Church or religious institution will do today to protect their interests
Further Background information relevant to the Study:
Pelagius was a scholar in his own rite, although little is known of his past as a Monk/Friar in Brittan. He was fluent in Greek and Latin, could read and understand the ancient manuscripts and was an excellent speaker and debater. Whereas his main adversary Augustine could neither read or write Koine Greek, his education was in Latin, the language of scholars / philosophers. His background was in rhetoric, the ancient philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, he was a follower of the Persia cult called the Manichaean, a Gnostic sect founded by a medium named 'Mani in third century Persia; who supposedly received his teaching from a spirit called his 'Twin, who spoke of Prophets like Buddha and Zoroaster, and as its influence spread into Rome, Jesus was added to their list of prophets. The world view of Manichaeism was dualistic: one side was a world of light, inherently good and on the other the material world, inherently evil. Each world was presided over by a god. As everything material, the incarnate part of the human was evil by nature from the day of his conception and was drawn towards sin. Only the immaterial soul, belonging to the world of light, was pure and could not be defiled, not even by the grossest sins of the body. The worst sins in Manichean thinking were the sexual sins, because they resulted in more souls of light becoming imprisoned in evil bodies. According to Manichaeism, mankind was divided into three separate groups of people: the Sinners, the Hearers and the Elect. The Elect were obliged to refrain from all things that bound them to the material world: certain foods, sexual intercourse and manual labor. They were certain to obtain salvation once they died. The Hearers had to observe the same restrictions only on Sundays. They would have to go through more cycles of incarnations before they, too, would reach salvation. Augustine himself was a Hearer. Manichaeism offered a world view that eliminated the fear of judgment by offering hope for salvation while still living in sin. Thus you can see its appeal, blended into Christian teaching as a 'Sinful Nature' handed down from Adam, of which the Substance of sin dwelled in the flesh (material) creating the Rom7 'carnal dilemma, constant struggle with sin from which there was no real escape only an 'imputed covering that absolved the person from responsibility for their actions. Augustine was the FIRST person to use Rom 7 as the present tense 'Christian life, among the many things he was challenged to prove, was to produce any evidence that the early Christians taught such a thing as this 'imaginary 'Dual Nature. He couldn't of course, but that didn't deter him in the least from zealously promoting his teachings.
A Word about the framework of a Ecclesiastical System:
Within such a System, Doctrinal allegiance will always take precedence over the
truth. Those well positioned in the System have far too much at stake to bite
the hand that feeds them. They will work hard to silence the opposition and
eliminate the competition. Maligning reputations, demonizing character, outright
lying is nothing to these people, they believe in LIES, so how can they be past
using lies to get rid of you?
Luther did against the Jews and the Anna Baptists and saw to it they were brutally persecuted, even tortured to death for their beliefs. Calvin lied and even murdered to maintain his power base in Geneva. The 'Church pursued, hired assassins and Judas goats to hunt down Tyndall and finally burn him at the stake for translating the scriptures into English. One only need read Foxes Book of Martyrs and follow this trail of blood shed throughout history at the hands of the establishment Church System; and your 'local church on the corner street is part of their legacy regardless how benevolent they 'appear today. Go into their institutions and oppose their precious doctrines and see what happens! The Professors, theologians and so-called Bible scholars today, Catholic and Protestant alike are no different then in Pelagius' time, only restrained by law from doing away with you. And even that only applies to nations where religious freedom is still protected by law, much of the world is sliding into a dark tyranny where any mention of Christ will be stamped out. So think carefully about the 'System you support and the doctrines you hold so precious, are they on the side of purity and righteousness or the 'no one is perfect, sin daily, if I say I have no sin … let's pretend God doesn't see us sinning and imputes us Righteous … side. Ancient Rome represents the first concentrated attack on Fundamental truths once delivered to the Saints and Augustine was one of the CHIEF players behind this attack as a principle representative of the pseudo Christian Empire in Rome. They held sway over the dissemination of doctrines and the determination as to who would be deemed guilty of heresy. Should mere men be allowed to have this much power over the lives of others, in the Kingdom of God on earth …. Jesus said NO, it shall not be so among you! But the Catholic Church said YES, we make the rules and you obey them or else! Is that of Christ, a System in which the person had no alternative but to yield, without even the freedom of independent thought, to walk out and go their own way. Today if you fundamentally disagree with your Church, religious institution, you leave it and they're glad to see you go, but you can still function in general society and even promote your own views else where. But under Rome this wasn't possible for centuries on end because of the Fat Cat phonies ruled who the roust!
Therefore I choose to part ways with their Systems and all they represent and take my Stand on the Truth. Augustine and men like him, have invented fallacies through the centuries for ONE reason and one only, to Cloak their lust and remove the fear of Judgment. Jesus said: 'I have come to give you Peace, NOT as the world gives, but as I give' Jh14:27, there is a false Peace in having what the world can provide, position, authority, commonality with the majority, there is strength in numbers and satisfaction in being admired. But Jesus never promised any of these things to His followers, their Peace would be in knowing they are walking in the Truth, come what may, and Standing firm against the institutions and fallacies of men. Never complying with any teaching that would excuse sinful behavior or the wolves in sheep's clothing who call for holiness in one breath and defend sin in the next. That would Cost them in the fact that the religious people who run things love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
In recent years there has been a lot written about the early Church, specifically up to the 3-4 Centuries in which radical changes took place that sorely affected the rest of history. Some writers even question the Augustinian influence and ask 'WHO are the real heretics, but they fail to make any solid determinations, leaving it up to their readers to decide; which of course sells more books, but doesn't draw any lines in the sand for those truly seeking answers. Also there are others out of the System, on the fringe, denying original sin, moral depravity, sin passed down from Adam, but still mixing truth with error, with one foot in the System and the other out! They add more confusion to the issue by failing to define the principle fundamentals involved and identify the heretics. So what’s the point of denying these things if you’re not going to also expose the false preachers teaching them today? None in my opinion, many of these fallacies are closely concealed, disguised as holiness teaching, taught by double-tongued pundits who know how to flatter their hearers with promises of liberty in Christ. They will preach about repentance and forsaking sin, but always leave room for human failure due to something lacking within that limits their ability to obey. So the moral to the story always ends up that Jesus did it for you, trust in that and rest assured. Consequently many are stopping short of preaching true Redemption and leaving people in a kind of 'limbo halfway between heaven and hell who are still in need of repentance unto life, but searing their conscience by continuing in sin.
Modern technology has
given us an explosion of information previously unavailable to the general
public, but lies and ignorance still have the upper hand. Knowledge can be good
if used properly, as Solomon said,
A simple man believes in every word, but an astute man comes to
Repentance. A wise man turns away from evil, but a man without discernment
persuades himself to mingle with a lawless man. Prov14:15-16
this is to the present day Church institutions and most professed Christians in
or out of the Systems. They think lenience toward evil is expressing the heart
of God, so instead of the Gospel restraining it, (as intended) it encourages
LIES always strengthen the hand of the wicked:
Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Ezk13:22
That's why the Lies must be Pulled Down, as you would pull down a fortified bulwark to defeat a powerful enemy. It’s a lie that man's ability to obey God has been limited or hindered by something inbred at birth, and all who promote it, suggest it or imply it are liars and must be exposed. Pelagius was contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints, trying to preserve the teaching of godliness and self-control. The corrupt Catholic Church excommunicated him as it would John the Baptist, the Apostles and even Jesus Himself! To them Truth is the enemy and logic a menace. Pelagius' experience standing against the Beast serves as an example to anyone who will do the same and expose the lies keeping people in bondage to their sin, regardless of cost.
The following is a brief summary of what was at stake in Pelagius' time:
The ongoing Arian debate between Traducianism and Creationism, the argument that all souls came from Adam against the biblical truth that each soul individually comes from God created in His image.
The emerging concept of determinism dived from the Manichaean, teaching that sin was passed down from parent to child, having originated with Adam, placing man's soul into a material body with the principle (substance) of sin dwelling in it, resulting in a dualistic nature given over to the inevitability of sin.
The Necessity of infant baptism in order to wash away the stain of original sin from their soul and if they die in infancy without this baptism they will perish in perdition.
Pelagius taught the goodness of creation and freedom of the will. Sin is exclusively an act of the Will, it cannot be passed from person to person, it is not a substance but a Choice and man is able to live without sinning.
Chronology of events leading up to Pelagius final excommunication:
Although Pelagius arrived in Rome some time around 380 (before the barbarian attack from the north) there is no
record of him having any personal contact with Augustine until around 405, when notice was taken of his remarks concerning Augustine's Confessions, wherein he discounted moral responsibility commanded by God, saying that
'if He commanded it, He must also grant it' (meaning give man the ability to do so) The Bishop who took notice of this reported back to Augustine, falsely accusing Pelagius of harsh speech and a quarrelsome tone, but this is obviously an exaggerated claim as he was never of that sort even when brought up before Synods and Popes. However it did set the temperament of the upcoming controversy between them. From his first arrive in Rome, Pelagius was deeply disturbed by the easygoing moral tone of affluent professed Christians in Roman society and the obvious infiltration of Manichaean pessimism into the Church, diminishing obedience to Christ through the notion of a 'dual nature' dwelling in the flesh making the 'Christian life 'one long' temptation never to be overcome while in this body of flesh. To Pelagius this 'cheapen grace in that it is Grace that teaches man godliness and self-control, but the idea of
'In Adam, all sinned' thereby transmitting his sin to all mankind, was already being formulated in Rome and Augustine would soon become its chief proponent.
Pelagius considered it a disastrous concession to pagan philosophy to blend the notion of a corrupted nature in man into Church Doctrine, making him powerless to Obey God's Commands. Sin is a Choice not a Substance, so it was ludicrous to claim there is some element of evil dwelling within a newborn child, transmitted from Adam.
Of course because the
Roman Church collected 'offerings' for Infant Baptisms, and the
tenet of 'sin dwelling in them' was already established, this became another
point of contention between Pelagius and Augustine, claiming it was a denial of
grace, because all un-baptized infants will not be admitted into the Kingdom! So
the stage of set form this point forward for a 'Witch hunt', against
Pelagius and a major Turning Point was about to take place in Western
Christianity, whether or not the ancient teachings of the Apostles once
delivered to the Saints would survive against the emerging fallacies of men that
would undermine them. Its interesting to note also that Pelagius and his
followers attempt to preserve the traditions of genuine Christianity are
probably the last known challenge of any significance against the Roman Beast
until the 1700's.
affirmed again and again that forgiveness of sin is an unmerited gift of grace,
Augustine was not satisfied, because he also affirmed that growing in grace and
knowledge, adding to one's faith, is dependent on the free choice of man being
personally responsible to do what is Right. In 412 Augustine gathered his
African Bishops, held his own Synod in Carthage and formally censured
(not excommunicated!) Pelagius and his friend Celestius. Neither man was
permitted to face his accusers at the time, although they did travel to Sicily
(Syracuse) with the intention of going to Africa to talk with Augustine face to
face, but it never came to pass. In the interim, Celestius went to Ephesus
and Pelagius traveled further to the East, finally ending up in Palestine, near Jerusalem, where he would remain until his official expulsion in 415. To Augustine's horror Pelagius' teaching on free will and human responsibility gained popularity in Syracuse and others published tracts expounding on obedience and self-control and man's ability to choose between right and wrong. This lead to the next phase in the battle.
although Pelagius was in the East, his teaching were gaining momentum in Rome
even among the elite who were corresponding with him for advice. This became of
great concern to Augustine in challenging his power base in Africa. So he began
publishing tracts criticizing his critics and even sending some courteous
letters to Pelagius to discuss the issues. (of which many fragment remain) But
the temperament of the controversy would soon turn sour. In 414, at
Carthage, the young daughter of one of the richest families in Rome took on the
veil of a consecrated virgin. Her family of course wanted recognition of this
great event published far and wide so the grandmother elicited praise from those
she considered 'distinguished men of God, of which Pelagius was one. In a letter
he wrote back to the family Pelagius praised the young daughter and lauded her
choice of a righteous and pure life in Christ, the tone of which was toward the
volition of free will and ability to make such a choice. Naturally this raised
the ire of Augustine, since this was a very well placed, powerful, family in the
realm, he couldn't have them esteeming Pelagius as a great teacher of Truth.
Jerome (who was a Bishop in Palestine, in favor with Augustine) also found
the letter repugnant and was enraged with Pelagius for criticizing his
commentary on Ephesians, calling him a 'corpulent dog', he received
correspondence from Augustine about this matter in 415 and soon a young
friend of Augustine's, named Origenist from Spain, arrived in Palestine and at
Jerome's prodding stirred up a storm of controversy at Jerusalem, by declaring
that Pelagius and Celestius had been formally condemned in Africa for denying
original sin and man's need for grace.
So the Witch-hunt was on again. But Pelagius found another ally in John of Jerusalem, who was favorable toward his teachings and sent the matter to an official Synod at Lydda in December 415, who found him innocent of all charges past and present, exonerating him of the charges made in 412 at Augustine's council. Naturally Augustine went ballistic, discarding the minutes of the Councils findings, claiming Pelagius had not explained his position in enough detail and was devious in his denial of 'statements that were not his. He immediately held his own Council in Numidia with his Bishops and hysterically denounced Pelagianism (again) and sent the matter to Pope Innocent urging him to overturn the findings at Lydda and condemn Pelagius as a dangerous heretic. Although he was reluctant to do so, having seen the piety and reverent behavior of Pelagians compared to general society, under pressure did so, but died three months later before a detailed letter of appeal and a book from Pelagius reached Rome with Celestius and was presented to the New Pope Zosimus (a Greek by birth) that much impressed him and to Augustine's great dismay he rebuked the Africans, finding Pelagius Orthodox, and accusing them of prejudiced accusations. But for political/ecclesiastical reasons, he withheld a final ruling.
total Pelagius was exonerated by two Synods, two Popes at least 32 Bishops and
several notable Christians of his time. All in spite of Augustine using such
tactics as misquoting him, taking something he had written out of its context to
support his arguments and outright lying about what he said! Which reveals there
was a glimmer of hope in the realm that some would come to their senses and
reject Augustan's fallacies in favor of the truth. But Augustine wasn't finished
yet, and used his influence in the halls of power keep the issue alive.
Zosimus hand was soon forced (remember the Pope was still beholden to the Emperor) and he finally issued an official ruling on Apr 30, 418, banishing Pelagius and his followers from the Empire. Speculative reasons behind it are likely: Pressures from above, influence of the rich, the fear of splitting the Church and the next election. Pelagius appealed to Alexandria and last to Constantinople itself, 428, where Nestorius (Archbishop of Constantinople)
agreed to hear them, but they never recovered any significant position in the
Empire and Pelagius was last heard from in Egypt 429-30, and never
returned to Brittan. (the Hollywood movie lore is not accurate) He was condemned
again in absentia, 431 at Ephesus to seal his doom and the road to ruin
was set in place for the Roman Empire to become Satan's master piece as the Holy
(unholy) Roman Empire when Charlemagne became its protector in 800 as King of
Italy. (his military victories in Europe were instrumental in uniting much of it
So, now you decide, was what happened to this man fair and just, regardless of your present doctrinal stance, can it honestly be said he was treated impartially apart from emotionally charge bias and unfounded prejudice? I suppose those of you in the establishment System who still hold to the heresies of Inbred Sin and lack of human ability, are happy to see the likes of Pelagius (and others like him) go. Anyone who has stood against their pet doctrines in the Churches, seminaries, bible schools, Sunday school classes, study groups, KNOWS what it means to suffer the consequences of their hatred. As the Lord said 'if they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much MORE those of His household' Matt10:25. There is no quicker way in the Church System to be accused of denying Grace that to teach that man has unhindered free will and ability to obey God and live a Righteous life.
One ardent advocate of Free Will, human ability remained after Pelagius' demise, a man named Julian (386-455) in Eclanum, Italy who continued to oppose Augustine, calling him an outright Manichee, and defending the Apostolic tenets of purity and right living. He waged a well-matched war against Augustine, of books, pamphlets, letters, and sermons from which we gain a clear idea of their contrasting views. (look up Julian of Eclanum) From this debate and other Augustinian writings, we have a well detailed frame work of the heretical Doctrines Augustine blended into the Catholic Church. His Doctrine of Original Sin in which Adam's sin is transmitted to mankind at birth, Adam being the 'Lump' of Perdition whereby all souls are born polluted. The notion of Concupiscence, as the natural human desires (inclination) being 'sinful, even in marriage. Unconditional Election, predestination, God chooses who is saved and who is damned, personal conduct has no bearing on whether or not a person is 'Saved, (elect) Grace being irresistible since God is immutable and the establishment of a Church/State institution to wage Just war and put down heresy. Canceling out the real Purpose of Grace toward mankind to: 'Purifying within through the washing, regeneration and renewing that is in Christ.
Its also interesting to note that Augustine, after more than 13 years of fornicating with prostitutes and concubines, considered all non-procreative sex sinful (and said that the feelings of arousal that accompanied procreative sex were evil and were the cause of the transmission of original sin), and human sexuality itself a debilitating curse. Could such a man have been Cleansed of his Sins by the Blood of Christ, having the ongoing conscienceless of Lust enslaving his mind… its no wonder he had to invent the Sin-nature fallacy, he was 'Carnal Sold under sin', Not set free in Christ.
important to remember as well that these type of inquiries were not in-house
debates on congenial terms, where the participants just agree to disagree in
the end. Pelagius life is at stake from the start, he had no real choice but to
submit and answer their questions regardless of the unbiblical nature of such a
proceeding held under a 'Church that had no Sound foundation in the doctrine of
Christ. Today we would just state our case and leave the Church, Bible School,
seminary and they'd be happy to see us go, but back then 'any dissension was
seen as a threat to the power base and could not be allowed to exist anywhere in
the Empire. Consequently you couldn't just go to another Church or different
assembly and coexist; you either complied with the 'Church or risk death as a
Now let's look at some Key statement made by Pelagius at the Synod of Lydda, in 415AD, in his own words:
(these are only fragments that remain, not the full proceeding)
[Pelagius writes in a certain book of his that] ‘No man can be without sin
unless he has acquired a knowledge of the law. Did you, Pelagius, express
Pelagius: I certainly used the words, but not in the sense in which they understand them. I did not say that a man is unable to sin who has acquired a knowledge of the law; but that he is by the knowledge of the law assisted towards not sinning, even as it is written, ‘He hath given them a law for help’.
Let another section be read. [It was then read from his book that] ‘all men are
ruled by their own will.’
Pelagius: This I stated in the interest of free will. God is its helper whenever it chooses good; man, however, when sinning is himself in fault, as under the direction of a free will.
Synod: [Pelagius has written in his book that] ‘In the day of judgment no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and the sinners, but they will be consumed in eternal fires.’ [To this Synod this statement seems to be worded in such a way as to imply that all sinners whatever were to be punished with an eternal punishment, without excepting even those who hold Christ as their foundation, although ‘they build thereupon wood, hay, stubble,’ concerning whom the apostle writes: ‘If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he shall himself be saved, yet so as by fire.’] My Note: the Synod of course being under the false assumption that all Christians are sinners by nature and therefore will be saved in spite of their sin.
Pelagius: I made this assertion in accordance with the Gospel, in which it is written concerning sinners, ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.’
My Note: this probably got by them because the 'righteous in their minds were those accredited righteous by faith in Christ despite their ongoing sinfulness.
[Pelagius has written in his book that] ‘evil does not enter our thoughts [if we
Pelagius: We made no such statement. What we did say was, that ‘the Christian ought to be careful not to have evil thoughts.’ My Note: again he is in compliance with Scripture as to Set your mind on things above, be renewed in spirit, etc, so his detractors could not refute him.
Synod: [Pelagius has written in his book that] ‘A man is able, if he likes, to be without sin’
Pelagius: We asserted that a man could be without sin, and could keep God's commandments if he wished; for this capacity has been given to him by God. But we never said that any man could be found who at no time whatever, from infancy to old age, had committed sin: but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own labor and God's grace be without sin; and yet not even thus would he be incapable of change ever afterwards. My Note:
how he got this by them, I know not, very few agree with it today and will condemn you for asserting it.
Pelagius went on to say: Concerning a man's being able indeed to be without sin, we have spoken already; concerning the fact, however, that before the Lord's coming there were persons without sin, we say now that, previous to Christ's advent, some men lived holy and righteous lives, according to the teaching of the sacred Scriptures. The rest were not said by me, as even their testimony goes to show, and for them, I do not feel that I am responsible. (Here he is speaking of false accusations made by others concerning what others said he may have said)
[In the fifth chapter of Coelestius’ book it is written that] "every individual
has the ability to possess all powers and graces,” thus taking away that
'diversity of graces’, which the apostle teaches.
Pelagius: We have certainly said so much; but yet they have laid against us a malignant and blundering charge. We do not take away the diversity of graces; but we declare that God gives to the person, who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces, even as He conferred them on the Apostle Paul.
The following is a brief summery (from the fragments) of Synod's
The statements taken in their brevity against the weight of his former testimony
that: 'man could
by his own labor and God's grace be without sin',
The false charge
brought against him then and now is that he denied the necessity of Grace and
claimed that man could 'save himself' by simply doing what is right. (much the
same as today if you deny inbred sin)
All men are governed by their own will, and every one is submitted to his own desire In the day of judgment and no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and the sinners, but they will be consumed in eternal fires. The Christian ought to be careful not to have evil thoughts. The kingdom of heaven was promised even in the Old Testament. A man is able, if he likes, to be without sin. Even women ought to have a knowledge of the law, Women also should sing unto God. The servant of God should utter from his lips no bitterness, but ever that which is sweet and pleasant. A priest or doctor ought to watch the actions of all, and confidently rebuke sinners, lest he be responsible for them and their blood be required at his hands. A priest or doctor should flatter no one, but boldly rebuke all, lest he destroy both himself and those who hear him. All are governed by their own free choice. Except a man have learned, he cannot be acquainted with wisdom and understand the Scriptures. He that has not been taught, ought not to assume that he knows the law. A Christian ought to be so patient that if any one wished to take his property he would let it go with joy. The bravery of dress and ornament is an enemy of God. We must love our enemies as we do our neighbors. We must never believe an enemy. A man can be without sin, and easily keep the commandments of God if he chooses, We ought not to commit even light offences. We must not even think an evil thought.
In response to
one of Augustine's letters he wrote:
The first way to form a judgment of the goodness of human nature is from God, its creator. He made the whole world and all the extremely good things in it. How much more excellent, then did he make the human beings, for whose sake he established everything else. The goodness of humanity was indicated even before it was created when God prepared it in his image and likeness. I think, that before all other things we have to inquire what sin is; 'some substance, or wholly a name without substance, whereby is expressed not a thing, not an existence, not some sort of a body, but the doing of a wrongful deed. Secondly, they say: ‘If baptism washes away that ancient sin, those who have been born of two baptized parents should not have this sin, for they could not have passed on to their children what they themselves in no wise possessed. Besides, if the soul does not exist by transmission but the flesh alone, then only the flesh carries the transmission of and it alone deserves punishment. [Thus,] declaring it to be unjust that a soul which is born today, not from the lump of Adam, bears so ancient a sin belonging to another, they say that on no account should it be granted that God, who forgives [a person] his own sins, imputes to him another’s
Here Pelagius is wholly in line with the early Fathers, such as: Clement, Justin, Tertullian, Polycarp, Barnabas, on free will, human ability, the non-existence of a 'sinful nature, transmission of sin, the goodness of the human nature.
The Manichean / Gnostic concept of determinism in which sin is a Substance of the created world was indeed an attractive influence in Roman society to 'excuse their worldly indulgences. But nothing has changed in present day society, it is still the perfect excuse to sin among professed Christians who live after the flesh not the Spirit. Their mantra remains: 'if I say I have no sin I am a liar with no truth in me', based on the same flawed concept that God allowed you to be born with the substance of sin in your DNA. You would think by now that intelligent individuals would reject this pagan notion as utter foolishness, Since you Cannot see SIN under a microscope! BUT they embrace it whole-heartedly proving they are the fools who are professing to be wise, promoting vain contradictions that are falsely called knowledge. (Rom1:22, 1Tim6:20)
When Pelagius first arrived in Rome these 'vain contradictions' were taking the upper-hand in a tight-nit ruling elite who despised competition and immediately saw him as a threat to their comfort. To Augustine's' advantage he was a prolific writer and speaker, having been a professor of Rhetoric at the university of Milan at the tender age of 30, he was an expert in Gnostic philosophy and a devote Manichean for fourteen years. He was well positioned in the Empire to rise quickly in the ranks of professed Christianity when it became necessary for him to convert in 386, due to Emperor Theodosius' decree in 382 outlawing it from the Empire on pain of death. Having been mentored by Ambrose, another notable orator, he began formulating his doctrines, blending his pagan notions into Scripture and devising a teaching that assured him of eternal bliss while removing the fear of Judgment for his ongoing sins. Plus he had already published his treatise called the 'City of God', based on Plato's Republic, justifying the Christian's participating in wars, affairs of State, use of force. So he was already a significance player, highly regarded in aristocrat society. Pelagius suffered the same fate as any of God's holy remnant will, then or now, until His return.
Here are the Main tenets Augustine was promoting at the time:
Infants must be baptized to be cleansed from original sin. The saints also confess to be sinners because they are. Children dying without baptism are excluded from both the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life. Man is lacking in free will and ability to obey God. Sin is a substance within man, dwelling as a nature of sin, resulting in the continual struggle flesh vs spirit, inevitability of sin.
To Which Pelagius answered thus:
because Adam killed only himself and his own descendents, but Christ freed both those who at that time were in the body and the following generations. But those who oppose the transmission of sin try to assail it as follows: ‘If Adam’s sin’, they say, ‘harmed even those who were not sinners, then Christ’s righteousness helps even those who are not believers. For he says that in like manner, or rather to an even greater degree are people saved through the one than and previously perished through the other.
My Note: 'in other words, if Adam's sin effected those YET to be born, who had not yet sinned, made them into sinners, then Christ's Righteousness must also be applied universally in helping those who have yet come to believe, making them righteous. And as applying the same logic to the necessity of infant baptism:
Secondly, they say: ‘If baptism washes away that ancient sin, those who have been born of two baptized parents should not have this sin, for they could not have passed on to their children what they themselves in no wise possessed. Besides, if the soul does not exist by transmission but the flesh alone, then only the flesh carries the transmission of and it alone deserves punishment.
Augustine was baffled,
the logic of the objection seems to be impeccable: how can someone pass on some-thing
which the sacrament of baptism has apparently cleansed them of? It would
seem that if one believed that baptism forgave all sin (as the Church did
at this point in time) then how could one believe that the child of baptized
parents could be tainted by the transmitted sin from their parents? Either the
baptism didn’t take, or this transmitted sin would seem to be able to overpower
the effects of the baptism. Neither argument seemed tenable, if Adam's sin was
imputed to all mankind by birth and continued to effect them as 'one long'
temptation, even as a Baptized Christian, that makes Sin stronger (more
powerful) than God, because not even the holy sacrament can wash it away. But
the logic of Pelagius argument didn't deter Augustine of using this same charge
against him later. Its interesting that article Six of the centuries later
Westminster Confession, dealt with the paradox in this manner:
This corruption of nature remains in those during this life even after regeneration and although Christ has pardoned and mortified (Provisionally) this corruption it still truly and properly sin. All sin both original and actual is Transgression of God’s law and bares the guilt and wages thereof
The Sin Remains, in Christ or not, you're still stained by both original and actual sin! What a farce!
On the Romans 5 argument Pelagius Commentary on Romans states thus:
Therefore, just as through one person sin came into the world, and through sin death. By example or by pattern. Just as through Adam sin came at a time when it did not yet exist, so in the same way through Christ righteousness was recovered at a time when it survived in almost no one. And just as through the former’s sin death came in, so also through the latter’s righteousness life was regained. And so death passed on to all people, in that all sinned. As long as they sin the same way, they likewise die. My note: Augustine could not read Koine Greek, so he changed the text of Rom5:12, 'in that all sinned or because all sinned', to 'in whom all sinned' making Adam responsible for all mankind being infected by his sin.
Doing good has become difficult for us only because of the long custom of sinning, which begins to infect us even in our childhood. Over the years it gradually corrupts us, building an addiction and then holding us bound with what seems like the force of nature itself. All the years during which we were negligently reared and were trained in the vices, during which we even labored at evil, during which the attractions of wickedness made innocence seem foolish, all these years now rise up against us. They come out against us, and the old practice battles the new decision. After we have labored so long to learn wickedness, are we then surprised that sanctity is not mysteriously bestowed upon
us while we remain idle and at ease without working to build good customs? My note: this is basically what Rom 1 teaches that by Progression of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, rejecting knowledge and exchanging truth for a lie, the nature of man becomes reprobate enslaved to sin. Whereas Rom2:14-15 show us the very opposite of the Gentiles who 'By Nature do the things contained in the law, guided by their conscience accusing or excusing them, proving the nature of man is free to choose between good or evil.
Since Sin is a Choice not a Substance, inherited or imputed, its by example or pattern people fall into sin and through the long habit of sinning as Rom 1 describes, the very Nature becomes corrupt and reprobate, as though some mysterious 'force is compelling it along. But it is merely the poor choices made that make doing Well so difficult.
Augustine's view of Nature being that of concupiscence , a Latin word he created to mean the natural inclinations and desires of human nature are sinful of themselves, has been one of the most destructive heresies of all time, causing the Way of truth to be blasphemed, as Peter said 2Pet2:1-3. The KJV gives credence to this assumption, that 'natural human desires' are sinful by translating Rom7:8 (Col3:5, 1Thes4:5) where the text reads 'evil desires', into concupiscence, giving the impression that the text is saying that because this 'nature of concupiscence' dwells in me, I'm a sinner by nature. Instead of all manner of 'evil desires' being present in a person given over to lust, it becomes a 'Nature you can't avoid. The newer versions go all the way and translate it 'Sinful Nature', as though it’s in the Greek Codex! I would think any reasonable person can see how this corruption of text has infected what people believe to be true. Augustine was consumed by lust all his life (one long temptation, he called it) and he used everything at this disposal to re-translate the Bible to remove the fear of Judgment for such behavior. And like the natural 'Pattern-example' of sin entering the world, many have followed in his footsteps and excuse themselves by design. Some may make the assertion at this point that the Eastern Orthodox Church rejected the Augustinian notion of Original sin and taught free will. True enough, their theologians will openly criticize Augustine's teachings. However on closer examination I found that they essentially teach the same thing, just call it by a different name. They say that mankind is not guilty of Adam's sin (i.e. original sin) BUT because he fell away man is subject to a 'strong propensity to sin, a 'disposition toward it that effects the inclinations. In other words it 'weakened' our nature's susceptibility to sin, distorting the Image we are created in, no longer after God, but after man. So although they believe man's nature is 'inherently good, not 'Totally depraved', it is still easily lead astray by evil intentions and Ecc7:29 'God made man upright', means 'One man' was made upright, that is Christ. All others are begotten in Adam's image. Gen5:3.
stating after the flood that man is STILL made in God's image, the
sinful nature folks will still use Gen5:3 to claim that all are born after the
likeness of fallen Adam) They will also say that Baptism (touching the water)
washes away ALL sin (much the same as Catholics) but give the same
resolution for ongoing sin through their Priests. They pray to Mother Mary,
consider her the Mother of God and Ordain Priests to rule over their Churches.
So Eastern Orthodoxy is not a alternative to Rome, Sin may not be inherited from
Adam, but it still weakens man's nature, by the Image being distorted, in need
of restoration. Again HOW SO does sin weaken our nature BEFORE we
are able to Choose between right and wrong! Is it a Substance, an inbred
disease, something attached to our DNA… there can be no guilt where there
is not action! It cannot be called Sin until the CHOICE is made to sin
and then 'by progression' it becomes an addiction, enslaving the Nature in that
it appears like a mysterious 'force propelling it to reprobation, but even human
nature that far gone still has the consciousness of right and wrong:
who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Rom1:32
The most serious
charge brought against Pelagius was the accusation that he was 'denying the
grace of God, claiming man could live a godly life free from sin, without
God's assistance. Of course this was false and unfounded, all a person need do
is read his own comments and see for themselves he never denied the need for
Grace in the Christians life. But sadly Augustine's LIES seem to stick
through the centuries and people today still say Pelagius denies grace. Or when
they call us Pelagians it means we're claiming man can 'save himself by his own
doings without Christ. This also is ridiculous but where it comes to lining up
with heretics the present day Church System excels. Pelagius himself couldn't
have been more clear about the necessity of Grace in the Christian's life: he
I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to disannul it deserve everlasting punishment.
The same Church, Pastors and Pundits who will accuse him of denying Grace don't even know Titus2:11-14, where Grace is defined as teaching us a denial of ungodliness and worldly lust to live soberly and righteously in this present age, nor have they made it a point of memorization in their Sunday school classes or study groups. I've never seen a Church group yet (in over 30 years!) who knew the passage, let alone could quote it. What we're denying in their minds, is the CHEAP GRACE, saved in sin, sin daily pabulum, they're fed 24/7, that also began in Rome and shocked a godly man like Pelagius, when he seen it first hand applied to general society. He tried to do something about it and return the people to Apostolic purity and what happened to him has set the tone throughout the rest of history for anyone who tries to do the same. The Catholic Church has a long, bloody record of stamping out godliness and truth, if it wasn't for a select FEW who were willing to stand against this monster and even give their lives, we would probably still be in the dark ages, kept in blinded ignorance begging for crumbs.
Pelagius represents the Last Known effort of any significant to eradicate this awful teaching from the face of the earth, but as I said, he was in enemy territory from the start and didn't realize how evil the people were who were coming against him. Augustine was the Top Dog establishing himself as a great theologian of the time and had a well positioned power base to play from, Pelagius was a humble friar teaching godliness and self-control. His very presence was an affront to the power brokers, he made them look foolish on their high horses, spouting their nonsensical theories about human nature and sin. As every tree is Known by its fruit, so this man out the good treasure from a pure heart brought forth good things and spoke the truth. But the forces of evil were aligned against him, both religious and political, he was dirt under their feet. Although he was able to win the hearts and minds of some to the truth, it was never enough to make the impact necessary to overturn the fallacies entirely. It remained a matter of truth vs error in the years ahead and the stain on Pelagius' character deterred many from engaging the power structure of Rome in another attempt to defy Augustinian fallacy. And so it continues to this day, is man a 'Sinner (born that way) or does he become a sinner when he sins, by free choice… its seems a simple matter of logic, how can someone be held accountable for what another did or what they have YET to do… The only logical reason there is why people would side with 'born that way', is they DO NOT want to assume the responsibility of their own actions and DO what is Right! So they have the perfect excuse in 'I'm not able because I was born defective, in essence 'Blaming God for allowing it to happen. Consequently in this they decide who the heretics are, 'anyone who denies it!
So we're back to the beginning of our study, I say 'Christians don't look for reasons to excuse sin, heretics do, and that's how you discern between the righteous and the wicked and between those who serve God and those who do not serve Him. Malachi 3:18, End of Story.
The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, published in Great Britain 1967, Cox & Wyman Ltd, London
English Professor, Oxford grad, Church of England, Wesleyan.
Pelagius Commentary on Romans, published Oxford University 1993, translated by Theodore DeBruyn,
edited by Henry Chadwick, Rowan Williams
Wikipedia, Historical information on Pelagius, Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, Julian, early church
Catholic and Britannica Encyclopedias
Augustinian writings, City of God, letters and minutes of Synods, letters of Pelagius
Note also you will find conflicting dates when particular incidents took place depending on your source of info, I tried to be as accurate as possible in my chronology. And there is still a great deal of obvious bias out there twisting the facts in favor of Augustine and the sin nature fallacy. I stated my premise from the start for that reason.