Tag Archives: Free Choice

Pelagianism and Apologetics for Today

Pelagianism is a heresy that began in the 4th century, denying original sin and the necessity of grace. Pelagianism bares the name of moralist and theologian, Pelagius. While little is actually known about Pelagius we can come to understand his teachings from letters and books by his opponents: Augustine, Jerome, and others. It is thought that Pelagius is from Britain or Ireland although he spent much of his adult life in Rome and Palestine. Although he wasn’t a priest he was viewed as a learned and holy man. As a theologian he was concerned with man’s nature, relationship to God, and his moral obligation. Pelagius was well versed in Greek and Latin. He was well read in regard to the works of Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, and Origen. In fact, it was from Augustine’s book Free Choice (written between 388-395) that Pelagius got many of his ideas and thoughts regarding free will and the nature of man. Pelagius was a strong opponent of the Manicheans, arguing with Augustine against their determinism and fatalism, while in Rome from 380-411 AD. After the destruction of Rome in 410 he briefly stopped in Northern Africa. From there he went to Palestine where his views were more accepted, until confrontations arose with Jerome. Jerome saw Pelagius’ beliefs as extensions of those of Origen and Rufinus. Jerome argued vehemently against Pelagius concerning his viewpoints of man’s capacity of sinlessness apart from Christ.