Study of Pelagianism

Topics: Augustine of Hippo, Original sin, Pelagianism Pages: 8 (2642 words) Published: May 5, 2012
Table of Contents


Tracing the history of Christianity, there have been immense intellectual wars engaged for the sake of truth. Clearly, Christianity was a small religion with little importance in second and third centuries. The church had other most burdensome and serious problems to solve. They struggled with persecution from outside the church especially from the Emperors and doctrinal debates from within the church that birthed the Church leaders, now called the “Church Fathers.” Doctrines were investigated, developed and solidified to protect their beliefs. The canon of the New Testament was established to guard the wrong teachings and interpretations. The major point in Christianity came during the early fourth century AD, when Constantine became the emperor. Although that Christianity became legitimate and persecutions ceased, this did not stop controversies to creep in the church. And since the early fifth century to this day, one of the most disputes classified as unresolved by most historians of Christian theology is Pelagian controversy. Pelagian controversy includes most of the relevant and difficult topics which are usually discussed in works on systematic theology. Since the Pelagianism controversy centered upon the two figures: Pelagius and Augustine of Hippo, this paper will be exposing the issues, arguments and influence of Pelagianism, as the most frequently-revisited “heresy” which continues to impact the new generation’s belief and also to acquaint Augustine’s character and role to it. Interestingly, this clash was regarded as one of the difficult and significant theological and political controversies in Christian history which repeats itself again and again. I. ORIGIN OF PELAGIANISM

So how and when did this Pelagianism and its controversy started? To fully understand this, there is a need to briefly study the life and writings of Augustine and Pelagius as sources of the said dispute. Their backgrounds are of great importance to this issue. How each individual arrived at his own theological structure was not only because of the Scriptural exposition and assumptions, but also because of their essential experiences in life. A.BRIEF BACKGROUND OF AUGUSTINE (354-430)

When Augustine was born in the middle of the fourth century, the western Roman Empire was still a force to be reckoned with. His life was quite an adventure. Born and raised in Thagaste, in eastern Algeria, he enters a social world that he now sees as sinful. He sprints in sexual exploration and false philosophies such as Manicheism and Neoplatonism. He struggled with skepticism about what he learned and with his mother’s faith, Monica. Things change when he had the famous conversion experience in his Milan garden and becomes a devoted Catholic. In A.D. 391, he visited the city of Hippo and was ordained as a priest by Bishop Valerius. After Valerius death, Augustine succeeded him in office. In 410, Rome was sacked led by Alaric the Goth. Because of the accusations of the pagans that Rome fell apart as a consequence of desertion of the pagan gods, Augustine wrote "City of God," to defended his religion. He authored many writings. But he was best-known for his works the “Confessions”, an autobiographical meditation on God's grace.


Little is known about the man behind Peliagianism prior to his conflict with Augustine. Pelagius, is thought to have come from Britain and played a vital role in shaping the early character of Christianity. His keen intellect was well trained by learning, his character was gentle and his life blameless; but his calm virtue was that of the self-reliant ascetic. When Christianity had become the...
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