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Encyclopedia > Pelagius

Pelagius (ca. 354 - ca. 420/440) was an ascetic monk and reformer who denied the doctrine of Original Sin from Adam and was declared a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was not, however, a cleric. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as St Augustine of Hippo, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending himself against other theologians and the Catholic Church. The name Pelagius can refer to: Alvarus Pelagius, a Franciscan canonist Pelagius (c. ... Events Gallus deposed, executed at Antioch. ... For other uses, see 420 (disambiguation). ... Events September 29 - Leo succeeds Sixtus as Pope. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Monasticism (from Greek: monachos — a solitary person) is the religious practice in which one renounces worldly pursuits in order to fully devote ones life to spiritual work. ... Original Sin redirects here. ... For other uses, see Adam (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Heresy (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Church. ... Free-Will is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986. ... Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A cleric is a member of the clergy of a religion, especially one that has trained or ordained priests, preachers, or other religious professionals. ... For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). ... Augustinus redirects here. ...

Contents

Beginnings

Pelagius was born about 354. It is commonly agreed that he was born in the British Isles, but beyond that, his birthplace is not known. He was referred to as a "monk" by his contemporaries, though there is no evidence that he was associated with any monastic order (the idea of monastic communities was still quite new during his lifetime; solitary asceticism was more typical) or that he was ordained to the priesthood. He became better known c. 380 when he moved to Rome to write and teach about his ascetic practices.[1] There, he wrote a number of his major works — "De fide Trinitatis libri III," "Eclogarum ex divinis Scripturis liber primus," and "Commentarii in epistolas S. Pauli," a commentary of Paul's epistles. Unfortunately, most of his work only survives in the quotations of his opponents. This article describes the archipelago in north-western Europe. ... The Order of Friars Minor is a major mendicant movement founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. ...


In Rome, Pelagius became concerned about the moral laxity of society. He blamed this laxity on the theology of divine grace preached by Augustine, among others. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      In Christianity...


Around 405, it is said that Pelagius heard a quotation from Augustine's work Confessions, 'Give me what you command and command what you will.' This verse concerned Pelagius because it seemed from this verse that Augustine was teaching doctrine contrary to traditional Christian understandings of grace and free will, turning man into a mere automaton. Confessions is the name of a series of thirteen autobiographical books by St. ...


When Alaric sacked Rome in 410, Pelagius and his close follower Caelestius fled to Carthage where he continued his work and briefly encountered St. Augustine in person. He is subsequently in Palestine as late as 418.[1] An 1894 photogravure of Alaric I taken from a painting by Ludwig Thiersch. ... Caelestius (or Celestius) was the major follower of Pelagius and Pelagianism. ...


Persecutions

An objective view of Pelagius and his effect is difficult. His name has been maligned and used as an epithet for centuries by both Protestants and Catholics, and he has had few defenders. The Roman Catholic church denounced his ideas and yet the Reformation accused Catholics of adhering to his beliefs and condemned both Pelagius and the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, the Eastern Orthodox Church is silent. Regardless, Pelagius stands, both in reality and in icon, as a radical dissenter from the traditional view of original sin and the means of salvation. Analysis of his work is limited by the fact that Pelagius' life and teachings can only be understood through the works of his opposition as only their writings survive. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      The...


Augustine of Hippo

Pelagianism quickly spread, especially around Carthage, which is one reason the opponents acted so promptly and firmly. Augustine wrote four letters specifically on Pelagianism, "De peccatorum meritis et remissione libri III" (On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins Book III) in 412, "De spiritu et litera" (On the Spirit and the Letter) and "Definitiones Caelestii" (Caelestius's Definitions) in 414, and "De natura et gratia" (On Nature and Grace) in 415. In these he strongly affirmed the existence of original sin, the need for infant baptism, the impossibility of a sinless life without Christ, and the necessity of Christ's grace. Augustine's works are intended in part for the common people and thus do not address Pelagius or his disciple Caelestius (except for the Definitiones Caelestii) by name. One can find little of Pelagius' works in print save his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, which is similar to Antiochian writtings of the same age. Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. ... For other uses, see Carthage (disambiguation). ...


Jerome

Pelagius soon left for Palestine, befriending the bishop there. Jerome, who lived there, became involved as well. Jerome wrote against Pelagius in his "Letter to Ctesiphon" and "Dialogus contra Pelagianos." With Jerome at the time was Orosius, a visiting pupil of Augustine, with similar views on the dangers of Pelagianism. Together they publicly condemned Pelagius. Bishop John of Jerusalem, a personal friend of Pelagius, called a council in July 415. Church sources claim Orosius' lack of fluency in Greek rendered him unconvincing and John's Eastern background made him more willing to accept that humans did not have inherent sinfulness. Yet the council rendered no verdict and passed the controversy to the Latin Church because Pelagius, Jerome, and Orosius were all Latin. For other uses, see Jerome (disambiguation). ... Paulus Orosius (c. ...


Diospolis

A few months later in December of 415, another synod in Diospolis (Lydda) under a Cesarean bishop was called by two deposed bishops who came to Palestine. However, neither bishop attended for unrelated reasons and Orosius had left after consultation with Bishop John. Pelagius explained to the synod that he did believe God was necessary for salvation because every human is created by God. He also claimed that many works of Celestius did not represent his own views. He also showed letters of recommendation by other authoritative figures including Augustine himself who, for all their disagreements, thought highly of Pelagius' character. Downtown area of Lod Lod (Hebrew לוֹד; Arabic اَلْلُدّْ al-Ludd, Greco-Latin Lydda, Tiberian Hebrew לֹד Lōḏ) is a city in the Center District of Israel. ...


The Synod of Diospolis therefore concluded: "Now since we have received satisfaction in respect of the charges brought against the monk Pelagius in his presence and since he gives his assent to sound doctrines but condemns and anathematises those contrary to the faith of the Church, we adjudge him to belong to the communion of the Catholic Church." Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius. ...


Pope Innocent I

When Orosius returned to Africa, two local synods condemned Pelagius and Celestius without their presence. Because the synods did not have complete authority without papal approval, Augustine and four other bishops wrote a letter urging Pope Innocent I to condemn Pelagianism. He agreed without much persuading. Saint Innocent I, pope (402 - 417), was, according to his biographer in the Liber Pontificalis, the son of a man called Innocent of Albano; but according to his contemporary Jerome, his father was Pope Anastasius I, whom he was called by the unanimous voice of the clergy and laity to...


Pope Zosimus

Pelagius' guilt in the eyes of the Church, however, was undecided. Pelagius wrote a letter and statement of belief showing himself to be orthodox and sent them to Innocent I. In these he articulated his beliefs so as not to contradict what the synods condemned. Zosimus had become Pope by the time the letter reached Rome in 417. Zosimus was duly impressed and declared him innocent. This article is on the pope. ...


St. Augustine, shocked that Pelagius and Celestius were not denounced as heretics, called the Council of Carthage in 418 and stated nine beliefs of the Church that Pelagianism denied: Synods of Carthage During the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries the town of Carthage in Africa served as the meeting-place of a large number of church synods, of which, however, only the most important can be treated here. ...

  1. Death came from sin, not man's physical nature.
  2. Infants must be baptized to be cleansed from original sin.
  3. Justifying grace covers past sins and helps avoid future sins.
  4. The grace of Christ imparts strength and will to act out God's commandments.
  5. No good works can come without God's grace.
  6. We confess we are sinners because it is true, not from humility.
  7. The saints ask for forgiveness for their own sins.
  8. The saints also confess to be sinners because they are.
  9. Children dying without baptism are excluded from both the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life.

Every one of these was accepted as a universal belief of the Church and all Pelagians were banished from Italy.


The last canon is no longer widely accepted, for example current Roman Catholic Church doctrine states that children who die without baptism are entrusted to the mercy of God (CCC 1261); thus leaving the salvation of unbaptized infants' still in question.


Pelagius and the Doctrine of Free Will

After his acquittal in Diospolis, Pelagius wrote two major treatises which are no longer extant, "On Nature" and "Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will." In these, he defends his position on sin and sinlessness, and accuses Augustine of being under the influence of Manicheanism by elevating evil to the same status as God and teaching pagan fatalism as if it were a Christian doctrine. Manichaeism was one of the major ancient religions. ...


Augustine had been converted to Christianity from the religion of Manicheanism, which stressed that the spirit was God-created, while the flesh was corrupt and evil, since it had not been created directly by God. Pelagius argued that Augustine's doctrine that humans went to hell for doing what they could not avoid (sin) was tantamount to the Manichean belief in fatalism and predestination, and took away all of mankind's free will.


Pelagius and his followers saw remnants of this fatalistic belief in Augustine's teachings on the Fall of Adam, which was not a settled doctrine at the time the Augustinian/Pelagian dispute began. Their view that mankind can avoid sinning, and that we can freely choose to obey God's commandments, stand at the core of Pelagian teaching, and comes through even in the writings of Pelagius' opponents.


An illustration of Pelagius' views on man's "moral ability" not to sin can be found in his Letter to Demetrias. He was in Palestine when, in 413, he received a letter from the renowned Anician family in Rome. One of the aristocratic ladies who had been among his followers was writing to a number of eminent Western theologians, including Jerome and possibly Augustine, for moral advice for her 14-year-old daughter, Demetrias. Pelagius used the letter to argue his case for morality, stressing his views of natural sanctity and man's moral capacity to choose to live a holy life. It is perhaps the only extant writing in Pelagius' own hand, and it was, ironically, thought to be a letter by Jerome for centuries, though Augustine himself references it in his work, "On the Grace of Christ."


Death and Later

Pelagius probably died in Palestine around 420, as reported by some. Others mention him living as many as twenty years later. The cause of his death is unknown, but the prevailing rumours suggest either that he was killed by his enemies in the Catholic Church, or that he left Rome in frustration and headed into Africa or the Middle East. For other uses, see 420 (disambiguation). ...


His death did not end his teachings, although those who followed him may have modified those teachings. Because little information remains with regard to Pelagius' actual teachings, it is possible that some of his doctrines were subject to revision and suppression by his enemies (followers of Augustine and the Church leadership as a whole at that time).


Belief in Pelagianism and Semipelagianism was common for the next few centuries, especially in Britain, Palestine and North Africa. Semi-Pelagianism is a softer form of Pelagianism, which taught that humanity has the capacity to seek God in and of itself apart from any movement of God’s Word or the Holy Spirit. ...


Possible Influences on Pelagius

It is likely that Pelagius and Pelagianism were influenced by both Pelagius's Celtic ancestry and his Greek styled learning. Greek thought emphasized punishment over guilt, as the Latin church did; thus Pelagius tried to hold humanity up to a greater responsibility for individual actions. Celtic paganism championed a human's ability to triumph even over the supernatural, which Pelagius may have applied to sin, to some extent. The Greek philosophy of Stoicism was said to be an influence leading to his ascetic lifestyle. Celtic polytheism refers to the religious beliefs and practices of ancient Celts until the Christianization of Celtic-speaking lands. ... Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early third century BC. It proved to be a popular and durable philosophy, with a following throughout Greece and the Roman Empire from its founding until all the schools of philosophy were ordered closed...


Pelagius in Literature and Film

In Hilaire Belloc's The Four Men, the Sailor leads his companions in the "Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men's Backs and the very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual". Photograph of Belloc Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953) was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. ...


The Pelagius Book by Paul Morgan is a historical novel that presents Pelagius as a gentle humanist emphasizing individual responsibility in contrast to Augustine's fierce fatalism. A historical novel a novel in which the story is set among historical events, or more generally, in which the time of the action predates the lifetime of the author. ... Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality. ... It has been suggested that Theological fatalism be merged into this article or section. ...


Pelagius is referred to in Stephen Lawhead's book, The Black Rood, and makes an appearance in Patrick where he has a discussion with the Anglo-Irish saint. Stephen R. Lawhead (born July 2, 1950) is an American writer known for novels, both fantasy and science fiction and more recently his works of historical fiction. ...


Pelagius is frequently referred to in Jack Whyte's series of books known as A Dream of Eagles, where a major character's belief in Pelagius' ideas of Free Will and the laxity of the Roman Catholic Church eventually cause him to come into conflict with Church representatives. Jack Whyte (Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland, 1939) is an author and writer born and raised in Scotland, but living in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada since 1967. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...


The Saint Augustine/Pelagius debate is mockingly discussed in Flann O'Brien's novel The Dalkey Archive, wherein Saint Augustine actually makes a ghostly appearance.


The government of the English-Speaking Union (Enspun) in Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed is locked in a perpetual cycle, rotating between the 'Pel-Phase', named after Pelagius, and an Augustinian phase. The former is one of police and social services, the latter is characterized by martial law. Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917 – November 22, 1993) was a British novelist, critic and composer. ...


Pelagius features in the movie King Arthur. Although not a major character, he is portrayed as the mentor of young Lucius Artorius Castus, or Arthur. Upon hearing of Pelagius's murder in Rome, Arthur's affection for the monk leads him to break off loyalty with the Roman Empire and help the Britons fight the Saxon invaders. A movie poster for King Arthur. ... For other uses, see King Arthur (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... The term Briton may have the following meanings: in a historical context: an inhabitant of Great Britain in pre-Roman times a descendant of Britons during a later period (e. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


See also

Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. ... Semi-Pelagianism is a softer form of Pelagianism, which taught that humanity has the capacity to seek God in and of itself apart from any movement of God’s Word or the Holy Spirit. ... Caelestius (or Celestius) was the major follower of Pelagius and Pelagianism. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Manichean priests, writing at their desk, with panel inscription in Sogdian. ...

Writings By Pelagius

Notes

  1. ^ a b Fletcher, Richard (1989). Who's Who in Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England. Shepheard-Walwyn, 11-12. ISBN 0-85683-089-5. 

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Pelagius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1863 words)
Jerome wrote against Pelagius in his letter to Ctesiphon and "Dialogus contra Pelagianos." With Jerome at the time was Orosius, a visiting pupil of Augustine, with a similar apprehension of the dangers of Pelagianism.
Pelagius and his followers saw remnants of this fatalistic belief in Augustine's teachings on the Fall of Adam, which was not a settled doctrine at the time the Augustinian/Pelagian dispute began.
Pelagius is frequently referred to in Jack Whyte's series of books known as A Dream of Eagles, where a major character's belief in Pelagius' ideas of Free Will and the laxity of the Roman Catholic Church eventually cause him to come into conflict with Church representatives.
Pope Pelagius I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (294 words)
Pelagius accompanied Pope Agapitus I to Constantinople, and was appointed by him nuncio of the Roman Church to that city.
Pelagius poured out his own fortune for the benefit of the famine-stricken people, and tried to induce the king to grant a truce.
Totila sent Pelagius to Constantinople in order to arrange a peace with Justinian I, but the Emperor sent him back to say that his general Belisarius was in command in Italy.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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