Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pelagius and Augustine

Pelagius and Augustine


Pelagius has been called "one of the most maligned figures in the history of Christianity."1   Yet, the nature of Pelagius's differences with Augustine, Jerome and the 5th century Catholic Church, which ultimately earned him the title heresiarch, have often been misunderstood or mischaracterized.2  It is not unusual for "Pelagianism" to be reductively described as a teaching that salvation can be achieved by works rather than by grace3 and for Pelagius to be characterized as little more than a repackager of Stoicism into the Christian milieu.4  In actuality, Pelagius was, for his time, a very orthodox Christian theologian.5   “Augustine was not troubled by Pelagius’ Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy,” states William E. Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College, “Pelagius’ statement of faith (Libellus Fidei) defends the Nicene dogma.”6   Celtic Orthodox priest Geoffrey O’Riada points out that “on most of his points of disagreement with Augustine, Pelagius upholds the Patristic Tradition of the Church, and since in his practical spiritual advice he is entirely harmonious with Church teaching, this much-maligned British monk would appear to be no more heretical than many venerable Fathers.”7    
Pelagius was, first and foremost, a reformer.8   O’Riada and other scholars of Celtic Christianity have identified interesting connections between Pelagius’ Romanized Celtic background “with its emphasis on faith and good works, on the holiness of all life and the oneness of all”9 and his preaching against the “moral laxity that surrounded him” upon his arrival at Rome, where “the Christianization of the Empire was not making true Christians of people…”10   Harold O.J. Brown, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, points out that “one reaction on the part of serious Christians to the lowering of standards as persecution ended and new converts flocked to the church”11 was to join the monastic movement, and Pelagius is often referred to as a monk due to his ascetic lifestyle. Yet according to Everett Ferguson, of Abilene Christian University, “Although an ascetic in reaction against the looseness of Christian life in Rome, [Pelagius] did not advocate a withdrawal from society.”12   Instead he sought to “reform the church from within.”13 

My thesis, then, is that Pelagius was a practical reformer14 and orthodox Christian who was wrestling with the same questions as Augustine pertaining to the relationship between divine sovereignty, grace and human free will.15  The key difference, according to B.R. Rees, Professor of Greek at the University of Manchester, was that “[T]hey started from opposite extremes: Augustine began with God, Pelagius with man.”16  Yet, O’Riada asserts, “Pelagius’ reflections on the human person are not unlike those of the Eastern Fathers.  They share the same starting point of moral reflection, that is, the innate goodness of man because God has created him in His image and likeness.”17 O’Riada cites Pelagius’ Letter to Demetrias (2:2) in which he advised, “You ought to measure the good of human nature by reference to its Creator.”  “For Pelagius as well as the Fathers,” O’Riada explains, “creation in the image of God means creation with free will, as free, self-determining persons.”

 Augustine, based in part on his own struggles as described in his Confessions, emphasized the inability of humans to avoid sin by their own free will and, therefore, the absolute necessity of divine grace for living a holy life.  He believed that "both the act of willing and the power to do what is willed"18 came from God, and so insisted “on the sole power of grace to act upon man.”19   Pelagius, based in part on his personal ascetic discipline and passion for moral reform in the church, emphasized the human ability to choose to do the right thing, albeit "always assisted by divine help."20

The different positions that Pelagius and Augustine arrived at regarding the relation between free will and grace can best be seen in their interpretations of three areas of theology: Original Sin, Predestination and Baptism.

Original Sin

John Ferguson concluded his authoritative 1952 Cambridge study of Pelagius with the statement, “the real issue was original sin.”21   The doctrine of Original Sin developed gradually over the course of four centuries, as ambiguous Pauline statements were refined by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrosiaster, Jerome, Augustine and others.  It is worth noting that Original Sin is not mentioned in the creed produced by the first ecumenical council at Nicea.  The seeds of the Augustinian formulation appear, according to University of Padua professor Pier Franco Beatrice22 and to Anglican theologian N.P. Williams23, to have been sown in Egypt in the late second century by Encratite Christians24.  Augustine took these ideas that had been circulating in North Africa and formed them into a cohesive theological blueprint of Original Sin.25   Craig St. Clair, in his graduate thesis for the College of St. Benedict and Saint John’s University, asserts that “It is … a misnomer to speak of original sin prior to the Pelagian controversy.  It was Augustine who coined the phrase in his letter to Simplicius and before this we can only speak of the fragmentary elements of which the doctrine would be comprised.”26   Martha Ellen Stortz, Professor of Historical Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, concurs: “Adam’s Fall was new with Augustine.  Neither his contemporaries nor his predecessors had used such language to describe the effects of the Fall.”27   Throughout his life, Augustine revised and clarified this doctrine, particularly in response to critics such as Pelagius.
            The roots of the doctrine of Original Sin lie in theological debates, which date back to Origen, regarding the origination of the soul.  St. Clair explains: “The traducian view in this controversy asserted that the soul was passed on to the child from the parents, while the creationist view taught that in one way or another, whether immediately or from the beginning of time, God created each individual soul.”28   The traducian view, in which the soul is inherited, gradually led to the tradux peccati doctrine, in which sin is inherited.  This formed the basis of Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin and his resulting views on baptism and predestination.  St. Clair points out that Pelagius rejected the traducian view and embraced the creationist idea that each soul is created afresh by God (rather than passed down through inheritance).29

Augustine's view was that the guilt for the sin of Adam, as well as the concupiscence that resulted from the Fall, passed seminally from generation to generation.30   Pelagius, on the other hand, considered humans to be born as morally neutral beings who, due to influence and ignorance, quickly picked up the "habit" of sin.31   For Augustine sin was an intrinsic internal flaw which could not be fully removed but only ameliorated by grace.  For Pelagius sin was an external corruption—like rust—which could potentially be eradicated through grace-empowered free will choices.32
A key text, for both Augustine and Pelagius, in relation to the doctrine of Original Sin was Romans 5:12: 

 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned…”

            It has been well established that Augustine argued from a pre-Vulgate Latin translation of this text, which mistakenly rendered the Greek eph ho pantes hemarton (“because all have sinned”) into Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt (“in whom all have sinned”).33   It is unclear if Pelagius used the same Latin translation or read from the Greek.  The interpretation Pelagius arrived at, however, was consistent with the Greek rendering of the text and with how the text was understood in the Eastern church.34

Pelagius, like Augustine, believed in the historicity of Adam and Eve.  He believed that Adam's sin introduced physical death into the world—upon Adam, Eve and their progeny—and that it introduced a pernicious habit of sin in all humankind.  Pelagius did not believe that sin or the guilt of Original Sin was an inheritance passed seminally from Adam.  In On Nature Pelagius cites John Chrysostom: “[Remember] … that sin is not a substance, but a wicked act.  And because it is not natural, therefore the law was given against it, and because it proceeds from the liberty of our will.”35   
             B.R. Rees, towards the end of his treatise on Pelagius, ponders, “What is left of the Augustinian synthesis?  The plain truth is that modern evolutionary theory, warts and all, has just about completed the work of demolishing it…”36   Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin, being inextricably based upon a belief in the historicity of the Genesis account of Adam, Eve and “the Fall” is endangered by alternative explanations of the origins of humankind, such as the widely accepted scientific theory of evolution.  Rees concludes, “When … he proceeded to base his doctrine of original sin upon it [the historicity of Genesis 1-3], he was building on sand, and his elegant structure now lies shattered.”  Although Pelagius also believed in the historicity of the Genesis account, his doctrine of sin can survive apart from it.


Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin naturally leads to the question, “Who then can be saved, and how?”  His answer was that only those who have been given by God—as an act of charity—the will to repent, believe and be baptized can be saved.  The effects of Original Sin upon humankind lead to a tragic situation where no person is able to respond to God unless God has prepared (elected) them to be able to do so.  Thus, as Rees describes it, "The elect have adiutorium quo, 'the aid by which they are enabled to be saved', in addition to adiutorium sine quo non, 'the aid without which it would be theoretically impossible to be saved'.”37   Augustine's view that "the act of willing" comes from God, naturally led into predestination:  Only those who have been selected to be given by God the will to repent, believe and be baptized can be saved.  Yet this election must be based entirely on God’s grace and not on any merit that a person possesses.  The implication is that God’s criterion for election is inscrutable, perhaps even random.  Thus Augustine fell into what Toynbee called "The ancient conundrum of a God who is both all-powerful and all-loving."38 Paula Frederickson, Professor of Scripture at Boston University, explains Augustine’s position on election thusly:  “God does not call all men the same way.  Those whom he elects he calls congruenter (effectively or appropriately), so that they will follow.  Those whom he rejects he does not so call, so that they do not follow.  The proof is tautological: if God had chosen these people, he would have called them effectively, so that they would have followed; since they did not follow, although they must have been called, God must have called them, but not congruenter.”39

 Pelagius viewed Augustine's belief that God must provide "both the act of willing and the power to do what is willed" as an undermining of God’s gift of free will to humans.  To Pelagius, it smacked of Manichaean fatalism.  It is interesting to note that it was Pelagius’ concern that Augustine was preaching Manichaean-tainted heresy that initially led him into the theological fray that ultimately resulted in his own condemnation as a heretic.   Contra predestination, Pelagius believed that "God has endowed man with the power of being what he will, so that he might be naturally capable both of good and evil, and turn his will to either of them.  He has imparted to us the capacity of doing evil, merely that we may perform his will by our own will.  The very ability to do evil, is therefore a good.  It makes good be performed, not by constraint, but voluntarily."40  Ever the practical reformer rather than the abstract theologian, Pelagius believed that the denial of free will inherent in the doctrine of predestination would cause the possibility of living a moral life to be perceived as an exercise in futility and thus perpetuate in Christians the moral laxity that he so vigorously preached against.  


Augustine believed that baptism was necessary in order to become a member of the Body of Christ and that the purpose of baptism was to counteract the penalty and effect of Original Sin.  Since he considered baptism a necessity for salvation, he believed that infants ought to be baptized as soon as possible after birth.41   “God does not remit sins but to the baptized.”42   The practice of baptizing infants, however, pre-dates the doctrine of Original Sin.  According to Harold Brown, “In Augustine’s day, baptism was increasingly being administered to infants.  In order for it to be able to do for infants what it was supposed to do for adults, i.e. forgive their sins, it was necessary to postulate that infants have sin.”43   Everett Ferguson concurs, “Augustine used the practice of infant baptism to argue for original sin.  Baptism was ‘for the forgiveness of sins’; since the infant had not committed any sin, though, the forgiveness must be for the sin associated with the fallen human nature.  Thus Augustine found his doctrine implicit in the practice of the church, even if he could find few predecessors who taught his view of original sin and lack of free will in regard to salvation.”44   Ferguson continues that “The relationship of infant baptism and original sin illustrates a frequent occurrence in religious history, namely that a practice precedes the doctrinal justification for it.”

            Whereas, according to Ferguson, “Augustine argued that baptism imparts an indelible character: there is no more possibility of being held guilty of Adam’s sin,”45 “Pelagius felt no necessity for infant baptism, but was willing to conform to the custom of the church.”46   St. Clair clarifies: “This issue [of infant baptism] is of little concern to Pelagius as his focus is largely upon educating and forming adult Christians.”47   Thus, although Pelagius accepted that baptism of infants and children could provide a measure of sanctification, he did not believe it brought about the remission of Original Sin (a doctrine he rejected).  Instead, Pelagius believed that baptism ought to be sought by those who consciously and intentionally possessed faith in God.  Pelagius believed that baptism cancelled the sins one had committed in one’s own life.  He viewed it as an act of sanctification by which a believer became a new creation.48
The topic of infant baptism was perhaps the most dangerous for Pelagius, which may explain his circumspection in discussing the question (as opposed to his outspoken disciple Caelestius who stridently argued against the practice and was summarily excommunicated).  Predestination and Original Sin were abstract theological concepts, but baptism was an established practice of the church and, at the time of Pelagius, infant baptism was the norm.  To openly dispute infant baptism was to state that the church was "doing it wrong."  According to Rees, “[H]e was fully aware that to deny the efficacy of baptism for infants would be to forfeit any residual claim to orthodoxy on his part.  The picture that others had built up of one whose orthodoxy was already undermined by his heretical views on grace would be completed if he could also be shown by his own confession to be casting doubt on a practice which was essential to the Christian Church.”49    This is the likely reason why Pelagius did not denounce infant baptism, despite the clear implications of his theology in regards to it.


Both Pelagius and Augustine were attempting to define the parameters of God's grace and sovereignty over against humankind's free will.  Each was motivated by earnest religious devotion and by practical considerations: in the case of Augustine the many salvation-endangering heresies he sought to counter and in the case of Pelagius the lax Christian lifestyles he observed and sought to correct.  Each was concerned that the other was propagating unorthodox views which could damage the Church.  Though both were well known and respected, Augustine had the edge, not only in terms of possessing a more complete theological system that furthered—rather than challenged—the existing ecclesial power structure, but also in terms of his bishopric, his connections with powerful associates such as Jerome, his political savvy, his prodigious writing output and his familiarity with taking the rhetorical offensive.  “For them it was a fight to a finish, and at the end of the day it was Augustine’s high standing as an acknowledged leader of the Church and his proven skill as a controversialist that won that battle,” states Rees.50   Pelagius was, despite his influence and popularity, a layman who could be cast as a provocateur and an outsider.51   Pelagius sought to bring a renewal of holiness to the post-Constantine church52 but soon found himself on the defensive against powerful foes.  “Pelagius was not condemned simply on theological grounds.  Rather, Pelagius’s teaching was seen as a threat…  His central message that there is only one authentic Christian life, the path to perfection, left no room for nominal Christians.  If he had gone off into the Syrian or Egyptian desert, he would probably have been a revered ‘abba.’ Instead, he clashed with the comfortable Christianity which had become the basis of unity in the Imperial Church…”53   Peter Brown, Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University, considers the defeat of Pelagius to have been “yet one more stage in the end of the ancient world and the beginning of the Middle Ages.”  By this he means “the ‘Ancient World’ of the early Christian Church—of a group that had spread across the Mediterranean precisely because it had been small, separate, ferociously self-sufficient:  Sancti estote, quoniam ego sanctus sum, Dominus Deus vester.  Be ye holy, for I, the Lord your God am Holy.’”54  

Augustine prevailed and Pelagius was utterly marginalized.  No one knows what ultimately became of him and perhaps he did retire to the desert or return to Britain.  Many of his writings were destroyed, only to survive and be reconstructed—ironically—from quotations within the writings of his opponents.  Despite his crushing victory over Pelagius, Augustine’s doctrinal fortress has not survived intact.  Within a short period of time “Augustine was reinterpreted, so that theologians came to call themselves ‘Augustinian’ while rejecting his views on irresistible grace and predestination.”55   According to William Placher, Professor of Humanities at Wabash College, “Almost no one wanted to be identified as a ‘Pelagian,’ but many have sought to avoid the full force of Augustine’s radical conclusions.”56   Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian views continued to arise, most notably in the formulations of John Cassian (c. 360–435).  The theological questions, and their attendant challenges, which the two men wrestled over have continued to circle throughout Christian history.  They remain relevant to this day.  The result, according to Harold Brown, is that “Much of Western Christendom is Augustinian-predestinarian in theory, but Semi-Pelagian, free-will in practice.”57


1. Evans, Robert F., Pelagius: Inquiries and Reappraisals, pg. 66.  Evans continues, “It has been the common sport of the theologian and the historian of theology to set him up as a symbolic bad man and heap upon him accusations which often tell us more about the theological perspective of the accuser than Pelagius."

2. O’Riada, Geoffrey, Pelagius: To Demetrias. “Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West.  For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk’s theology has come from what his opponents said about him—and when one’s opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great.  Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius’s doorstep.  Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius’s works directly.  What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for ‘Pelagian’ heresy was actually taught by him. … Most of what Pelagius argues against Augustine and Jerome can be found in the teaching of the Eastern Fathers.  Certainly, the assertion that it is possible to live a holy life after the Fall, as evidenced by the saints of the Old Testament, is a familiar Patristic theme.  Moreover, the Eastern Fathers nowhere teach the necessity of sin, emphasizing, as Pelagius does, the role of human free will.  Nor do any of the Fathers proposed a doctrine of the original sin like that of Augustine which disturbed Pelagius so much.  Nevertheless, in his polemics against those who denied human moral freedom, Pelagius develops perhaps too high a view of human free will. …  Still, contrary to caricatures drawn of him, Pelagius does not have a na├»ve and overly optimistic vision of human perfection.”

3. Rees, Bryn R., Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, Introduction, xi.  Rees gives the example of a reviewer of a book entitled The Benn Heresy, who commented that “Benn himself refers approvingly to Pelagius, that ancient Briton who thought that good works were sufficient for entry to heaven without necessarily believing in God.”

4. Shelley, Bruce, Church History in Plain Language, pg. 129.  “His idea of the Christian life was practically the Stoic conception of ascetic self-control…”

5. Stortz, Martha Ellen, Pelagius Revisited, pg. 137.  “Throughout the commentaries, Pelagius speaks of Christ, deflecting all the proper heresies.  He rails against the subordinationism of the Arians, the Docetism of the Manichaeans, and Apollinaris’s truncation of Christ’s human nature.  Pelagius stresses the unity of operation (una operatio) both between the Father and the Son and between Christ’s human nature and his divine nature.  What distinguishes Pelagius’s thinking about Christ is not his Christological formulations, but their soteriological implications.”

6. Phipps, William, The Heresiarch: Pelagius or Augustine?, pg. 125

7. O’Riada, Geoffrey, Pelagius: To Demetrias.  “[O]n the couple of occasions during his lifetime that Pelagius was actually tried at local councils in the East [as opposed to the West], the evaluation was positive.”

8. Brown, Peter, Pelagius and his Supporters: Aims and Environment, pg. 101.  “There is only one definition of a Pelagian by Pelagius: he was a Christianus; his followers strove to be integri Christiani—‘authentic Christians’.  The behavior of the integri Christiani was always thought of as being a reaction, an act of self-definition, the establishment of a discontinuity between the ‘authentic’ Christian and the rank-and-file of Christians in name only.  The problem of what was Christian behavior, indeed, had reached a crisis in late fourth-century Rome.  Too many leading families had lapsed into Christianity—by mixed marriages, by political conformity.  Among such people, no discontinuity existed between the pagan past and the Christian present.  The conventional good man of pagan Rome had imperceptibly become the conventional good Christian ‘believer’.”

9. Nicholson, M. Forthomme, Celtic Theology: Pelagius in An Introduction to Celtic Christianity, ed. James P. Mackey, pg. 388.

10. O’Riada, Pelagius: To Demetrius.  “Consequently, once in Rome, he became impatient with the moral laxity that surrounded him.  The Christianization of the Empire was not making true Christians of people, he believed, only ‘conforming pagans.’  He began preaching with the fervent desire to lead everyone to live an authentic Christian life according to the Gospel.”

11. Brown, Harold, Heresies, pg. 201. “Pelagius appears to have been motivated by practical piety, i.e. by the zeal to lead a perfect Christian life and to encourage others to do so. …the fourth century not only brought the Christianization of the Roman Empire but also the secularization of the Christian church.  The monastic movement, which spread rapidly after its beginnings in Egypt early in the fourth century, was one reaction on the part of serious Christians to the lowering of standards as persecution ended and new converts flocked to the church.  Pelagius was concerned to show that it was possible to lead a life of moral responsibility, pleasing to God; at the same time, he denounced the pessimistic, otherworldly dualism of the Manichaean movement to which Augustine was once attached and which he never seems entirely to have outgrown. ”

12. Ferguson, Everett, Church History, Volume 1, pg. 280.

13. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 131. “He [Pelagius] wanted above all else to be a good Christian, working for the reform of the Christian Church from within, he sincerely believed that his teaching was orthodox and consistent with that Church’s tradition, and it was in order to prove this to his critics that he allowed himself to become involved in an arduous and prolonged controversy for which he was by ethos and training quite unsuited.” 

14. Ferguson, Everett, Church History, Volume 1, pg. 280. “Pelagius was not a theologian, much less a mystic; rather, he was a moralist.”

15. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 28. "[T]he problem of reconciling divine sovereignty with human freedom lay at the heart of their controversy, each maintaining that he, and not the other, was correctly interpreting key statements and ideas found in the scriptures and especially the Pauline Epistles, as well as in the writings of the early fathers.  This was to be their bone of contention, at which they were to tug relentlessly from either end."

16. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 35.  "[T]hey started out from opposite extremes: Augustine began with God, Pelagius with man.  His view of man was not of one created perfect only to be corrupted by the sin of Adam passed on from generation to generation, but of one who began to sin from that moment when he became consciously able as a child to imitate the sins of others, not because his own flawed nature forced him to do so but because he was ignorant of its true essence and potential.  His will had been corrupted not by the sin of Adam but by bad example and habit, and it was this 'long habit of doing wrong' which had been incorrectly identified with, and located in, human nature by those who adhered to the doctrine of original sin."

17. O’Riada, Pelagius: To Demetrias.

18. Augustine, On the Grace of Christ and on Original Sin, 42, 146.

19. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 16. “Here we reach the main battleground on which Augustine and Pelagius were to fight.  The very arguments for man’s responsibility, exercise by use of his free will, which Augustine had deployed against the Manichees, were now being adapted by Pelagius to suit his own case that man had the power to save himself, always provided that he had accepted the saving grace of baptism of his own choice.  Augustine’s reply was to insist upon the sole power of grace to act upon man… So the controversy came to centre around two different interpretations of free will and grace, with each party to it accusing the other of over-emphasising one of these at the expense of the other.  ‘The two men disagreed radically on an issue that is still relevant, and where the basic lines of division have remained the same: on the nature and sources of a fully good, creative action.’ And so a debate which began almost coincidentally between a dedicated defender of Christian orthodoxy and an equally single-minded reformer of Christian morals would lead to a public examination of some of the most profound issues affecting the faith which both sincerely professed.”

20. Pelagius, Letter to Pope Innocent I.

21. Ferguson, John, Pelagius, pg. 184 via Craig St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 1.

22. Beatrice, Pier Franco, The Transmission of Sin, via Rees, pg. 24.

23. Williams, N.P., The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin, via Rees, pg. 24.

24. Rees, B.R., Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 58. “In his book Tradux Peccati the Italian theologian Beatrice traces the source of the doctrine to territories unexplored by Augustine… ‘Encratite circles, which were widespread in Egypt in the second half of the second century, and of which Julius Cassianus was an authoritative exponent’.  He claims that the doctrine then spread to African and Latin Christianity and that Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilarius, Ambrosiaster and Ambrose all tried to reconcile it with the need to safeguard traditional teachings on creation, marriage and free will.  Their successors were left with ‘an unresolved antinomy’, which Augustine and Pelagius set about trying to resolve in the different ways with the result that both sides in the controversy were forced to adopt extreme positions and it was only by dint of extremely refined conceptual acrobatics, with very fine distinctions, did Augustine succeed in proclaiming his allegiance to orthodoxy’. … [I]f he were right, then the seeds of the doctrine of original sin would have been sown in the East as early as the end of the second century and transplanted from there to Africa and the West by the early third.”

25. Rees, B.R., Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 60.

26. St. Clair, Craig, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 2.

27. Stortz, Martha Ellen, Pelagius Revisited, pg.140.

28. St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 6.

29. St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 7.
30. Phipps, William, The Heresiarch: Pelagius or Augustine? Phipps provides two examples from Augustine to illustrate this point:  ‘All men were seminally in the loins of Adam when he was condemned.’  ‘By the evil will of that one man all sinned in him, since all were that one man, from whom, therefore they individually derived original sin.’ (UJ 5, 12 & MC 2, 15)
31. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 35. (See footnote 16 above).
32. St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 13-15.
33. Lawrence, John Michael, Pelagius and Pelagianism, pg. 96
34. St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 21.  St. Clair also quotes Meyendorff on page 23: “there is indeed a consensus in Greek patristic and Byzantine traditions in identifying the inheritance of the Fall as an inheritance of essentially mortality rather than sinfulness, sinfulness being merely a consequence of mortality.”

35. Pelagius, On Nature (Reconstructed by Rev. Daniel R. Jennings).

36. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 74.

37. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 40.

38. Toynbee, J.M.C, Christianity and Roman Britain, pg.79.

39. Fredriksen, Paula, Beyond the Body/Soul Dichotomy: Augustine on Paul against the Manichees and the Pelagians, pg. 95.

40. Pelagius, Letter to Demetrias, Ch. 3.

41. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 13.

42. Augustine, A Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed.

43. Brown, Harold, Heresies, pg. 205.  Brown continues, “Inasmuch as infants cannot make meaningful, deliberate choices and thus cannot commit actual sins, Augustine held that the stain of Adams’s sin produces in them disordered and misdirected appetites.  These are both the penalty for Adam’s sin and sin in themselves.  It is out of this mass of sinful humanity that God freely elects some to receive a totally unmerited salvation.”

44. Ferguson, Everett, Church History, Volume One, pg. 279.

45. Ferguson, Everett, Church History, Volume One, pg. 276.

46. Ferguson, Everett, Church History, Volume One, pg. 279.
47. St. Clair, A Heretic Reconsidered: Pelagius, Augustine and “Original Sin”, pg. 17.
48. Stortz, Martha Ellen, Pelagius Revisited, pg.138-139.  “One is incorporated into the church through baptism, the ritual by which believers literally become members of the body.  The church is pure and holy, as was the body of Christ.  Entering it through baptism is an act of sanctification.  Pelagius read sanctification as beatification: ‘we are made saints through baptism.’  Baptism makes of the believer a new creation.  It is faith that leads the believer to baptism and into the church. … Building on the indicative that through baptism one was given a new life in Christ, Pelagius proceeded to exhort Christians to live authentically.  His actual rhetoric was less in the form of discrete imperatives than it was in the form of exhortations grounded in a Christological indicate: the saints are visible,; they are those seeking this authentic Christian life in Pelagius’s conventicles at Rome.   Dismissing Pelagius’s thinking as ‘works-righteousness’ diminishes the significance Pelagius placed on baptism.  Baptism in his thinking effects an actual conversion in the believer; baptism makes the believer a new creation.  Pelagius merely exhorted the believer to live up to what had already happened.  Pelagius reinterpreted the spirituality of martyrdom and its notions of holiness for a church in which martyrdom was no longer an option.  He was creating a conventicle form of Christianity in a church fast becoming the imperial religion of the Roman Empire.”

49. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 79.

50. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 130.  Rees continues, “After the Synod of Diospolis had announced its verdict in favour of Pelagius, Augustine’s determination to destroy his opponent and all that he stood for hardened into an obsession.  It was he who revived the subject of Pelagius’ orthodoxy as soon as the records of Diospolis were made available for examination; it was he who masterminded the all-out campaign of the African Church to enlist the support of the Emperor and the Pope of Rome and to overcome the latter’s reluctance to endorse an unambiguous condemnation of Pelagius and Celestius; it was he who, indefatigable as ever, picked off Pelagius’ main supporters one by one and reduced them to silence; and it was he who continued the witch-hunt into the far corners of the Empire by ensuring that there would be no area of the Church in which Pelagius and his friends might be able to find asylum.”

51. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 7.  Rees quotes Jerome’s Commentary on Jeremiah III (PL. 24, 758) (CSEL 59, 151) in which Jerome mocks Pelagius as “a huge, bloated, Alpine dog, weighed down with Scottish oats…able to rage more effectively with his heels than with his teeth.”

52. Rees, Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, pg. 19.  “Pelagius’ central message, though at first addressed to a comparatively limited audience, had profound implications for the Church as a whole: it was ‘firmly based on a distinctive ideal of the Church’ as a perfect religious institution consisting of perfect Christians wholly dedicated to the observance of the strict code of behavior enjoined by its found and followed by his apostles.  In a treatise On the Christian Life, now generally accepted to have been written by Pelagius himself, he insists that ‘God wanted his people to be holy’, an injunction spelt out by one of his followers in terms whose meaning is unmistakable: ‘surely it is not true that the Law of Christian behavior has not been given to everyone who is called a Christian” … There can be no double-standard in one and the same people.’  The members of Pelagius’ Church were to be integri, ‘perfect, authentic, without moral blemish’; there was no place in it for nominal Christians, camp followers who had crept into its shelter under pressure from the need for political or social conformity.”

53. O’Riada, Pelagius: To Demetrias.

54. Brown, Peter, Pelagius and his Supporters: Aims and Environment, pg. 114.

55. Gonzalez, Justo, The Story of Christianity, Volume I, pg. 215.

56. Placher, William, Essentials of Christian Theology, pg. 259.

57. Brown, Harold, Heresies, pg. 207.  “Augustine’s positions were approved at a large synod in Carthage in 418, and frequently have been reaffirmed by the Western church.  He is the most influential Latin theologian prior to Thomas Aquinas, and both the Lutheran and Calvinist reformations are strongly Augustinian in spirit.  Nevertheless, the church and many Christians have found it so hard to live with Augustinianism that over the centuries Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian views continue to reappear.  Much of Western Christendom is Augustinian-predestinarian in theory, but Semi-Pelagian, free-will in practice.  Eastern Christendom, which did not emphasize the fundamental importance of the will, has been spared much of this controversy.”


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