Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy

Pelagius

HT: Wikipedia

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie lead a discussion on the heresies of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, and the decline of conciliar orthodoxy.

Pelagianism—A teaching, originating in the late fourth century, which stresses man’s ability to take the initial steps toward salvation by his own efforts, apart from special grace. Belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil with Divine aid (from class handout).

The class discussed Pelagius’ first principle that man is able to obey God’s commands, and that Adam sinned only for himself, not humankind. This was followed by a discussion of the orthodox doctrine of original sin (See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 6).

Next, Semi-Pelagianism was defined, and it was explained that this heresy persists in various forms to the present.

Semi-Pelagianism or Massilianism—Semi-Pelagianism involved doctrines upheld during the period from 427 to 529 that rejected the extreme views both of Pelagius and of Augustine in regards to the priority of divine grace and human will in the initial work of salvation. The beginning of faith springs from the free will of nature, and that the essence of “prevenient grace” consists in the preaching of the Christian doctrine of salvation. On the basis of such faith, man attains justification before God (“prevenient grace” allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer) [from class handout].

With the fragmentation of the Christian Church due to the Great Schism between the Eastern (“Orthodox”) and Western (“Catholic”) Churches and the Protestant Reformation, the Christian Church could no longer speak with one voice to formally condemn heresies. Subsequently, heresy abounds today due to the lack of universally authoritative accountability.

Listen to “Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy” at mcopc.org.

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2 Responses to “Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy”

  1. Reblogged this on The Misadventures of Captain Headknowledge and commented:

    The term Massillianism is derived from the city of Marseilles, France, where in the early to mid-fifth century, John Cassian first wrote attempting a mediating view between the extremes of the Pelagian denial of original sin and assertion of the primacy of the human will in salvation and the Augustinian priorty of grace in irresistibly regenerating and redeeming the elect. Numerous other writers followed in his efforts for a similar synthesis until the errors were condemned by the second Council of Orange. Centuries later, scholastic theologians would term the system Semi-Pelagianism.

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