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(pəlā`jənĭzəm), Christian heretical sect that rose in the 5th cent. challenging St. Augustine's conceptions of gracegrace,
in Christian theology, the free favor of God toward humans, which is necessary for their salvation. A distinction is made between natural grace (e.g., the gift of life) and supernatural grace, by which God makes a person (born sinful because of original sin) capable of
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 and predestinationpredestination,
in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation.
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. The doctrine was advanced by the celebrated monk and theologian Pelagius (c.355–c.425). He was probably born in Britain. After studying Roman law and rhetoric and later theology in England and Rome, he preached in Africa and Palestine, attracting able followers, such as Celestius and Julian of Eclannum. Pelagius thought that St. AugustineAugustine, Saint
, Lat. Aurelius Augustinus, 354–430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and a Doctor of the Church, bishop of Hippo (near present-day Annaba, Algeria), b. Tagaste (c.40 mi/60 km S of Hippo). Life

Augustine's mother, St.
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 was excessively pessimistic in his view that humanity is sinful by nature and must rely totally upon grace for salvation. Instead Pelagius taught that human beings have a natural capacity to reject evil and seek God, that Christ's admonition, "Be ye perfect," presupposes this capacity, and that grace is the natural ability given by God to seek and to serve God. Pelagius rejected the doctrine of original sin; he taught that children are born innocent of the sin of Adam. Baptism, accordingly, ceased to be interpreted as a regenerative sacrament. Pelagius challenged the very function of the church, claiming that the law as well as the gospel can lead one to heaven and that pagans had been able to enter heaven by virtue of their moral actions before the coming of Christ. The church fought Pelagianism from the time that Celestius was denied ordination in 411. In 415, Augustine warned St. Jerome in Palestine that Pelagius was propagating a dangerous heresy there, and Jerome acted to prevent its spread in the East. Pelagianism was condemned by East and West at the Council of Ephesus (431). A compromise doctrine, Semi-Pelagianism, became popular in the 5th and 6th cent. in France, Britain, and Ireland. Semi-Pelagians taught that although grace was necessary for salvation, men could, apart from grace, desire the gift of salvation, and that they could, of themselves, freely accept and persevere in grace. Semi-Pelagians also rejected the Augustinian doctrine of predestination and held that God willed the salvation of all men equally. At the instance of St. Caesarius of Arles, Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange (529). By the end of the 6th cent., Pelagianism disappeared as an organized heresy, but the questions of free will, predestination, and grace raised by Pelagianism have been the subject of theological controversy ever since (see Molina, LuisMolina, Luis
, 1535–1600, Spanish Jesuit theologian. He taught at Coimbra and Évora. In 1589 he published Concordia, a work in which he expounded the doctrine known as Molinism.
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; Arminius, JacobusArminius, Jacobus
, 1560–1609, Dutch Reformed theologian, whose original name was Jacob Harmensen. He studied at Leiden, Marburg, Geneva, and Basel and in 1588 became a pastor at Amsterdam.
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). Pelagius' Expositions of Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul was edited in English by Alexander Souter (3 vol., 1922–31).


See J. E. Chisholm, The Pseudo-Augustinian Hypomnesticon against the Pelagians and Celestinans (Vol. I, 1967); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971).



the teaching of the Christian monk Pelagius, who was born circa A.D. 360 and died after 418. It spread throughout the countries of the Mediterranean in the early fifth century.

In contrast to Augustine’s conception of grace and predestination, Pelagius stressed man’s free will and his native powers for the attainment of moral perfection and “salvation,” while denying original sin. Pelagianism was condemned as a heresy at the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in 431.

References in periodicals archive ?
113) The critical issue for the godly parish minister in the early seventeenth century was how to turn theology into living faith that could withstand the lures of old pelagianism and new anti-Calvinism.
Bucer charged Marpeck with the heresy of dividing the church, but never with Pelagianism.
Her interest in another heresy of that early Christian world, a quasi-Protestant Pelagianism, was to resurface more than twenty years later in The Court and the Castle, an astonishing book of literary criticism, encompassing Shakespeare, Trollope, Proust, Kafka, and, notably, Henry Fielding, who provided her with an interesting contrast to the present-day view of the criminal as a species of victim.
I would like to suggest that this Adam ideology became for Twain a shorthand metonymy for the dominant religious position of the Gilded Age with regard to the nature of man--a romantic position in its mildest form called Arminianism and in its most extreme form known as Pelagianism.
The Brethren of the Light gradually over centuries, and Brother Edward in a single night of torment, pay off their historical debts by their own efforts; though the context of their monasticism is Christian, their actual world view is a Pelagianism bound to linear time and moral proportionality.
views the rise of what he terms "Adam ideology" as a reflection of the profound shift within the Christian belief of the period: the break with the views of Calvinistic depravity of man in favor of an emergent more liberal vision of man that is rooted in Pelagianism.
72) But this element of Pelagianism is precisely what Augustine would reject as inadequate.
His was a non-doctrinal position akin to Pelagianism, and, while he detested Presbyterians, the sects, and the Roman church, his main enemy, according to Letwin, was a pantheistic belief that human nature was imprinted on the material world, Opposing religious absolutes, he subordinated belief to the absolutism of the secular sovereign.
We were, of course, oblivious to the sheer Pelagianism of the motto.
Other heresies, like Donatism, Manichaeanism or Pelagianism, were combated by post-Nicaean patristics -- but they never achieved the extent of Arianism.
Augustine's answer to Pelagianism (412-418) was deeply rooted in his own experience of grace.
For it is technology - with its intrinsic relation to the market and its media (television, computers) - which most homogenizes the meaning dominant in the culture, by carrying that meaning across national-legal borders and into local communities and homes (by meaning I refer especially to the ontological pelagianism and nominalism undergirding the Western consumerist style of life).