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“Augustine - On Pelagianism”

From Augustine: De Haeresibus, 88

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Click here to read at in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the Kidd, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church, Vol. 2.

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(tr. J.A. Mourant and W.J. Collinge)

Four Anti-Pelagian Writings (Fathers of the Church)


Gerald Bonner

Church and Faith in the Patristic Tradition: Augustine, Pelagianism, and Early Christian Northumbria (Collected Studies Series, 521)

See particularly chapters

"Pelagianism and Augustine"

"Augustine and Pelagianism"


Peter Brown

Religion and Society in the Age of St. Augustine

See the chapter
"Pelagius and His Supporters: Aims and Environment"


Theodore De Bruyn


J. Patout Burns

The development of Augustine's doctrine of operative grace


Robert Dodaro
Augustine and his Critics

(See chapter See the chapter by James Wetzel: Snares of Truth: Augustine on Free will and Predestination.)


John Ferguson

Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study


B.R. Rees


B.R. Rees

Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic


James Wetzel
Augustine and the Limits of Virtue


Robert Van De Weyer

The Letters of Pelagius (Early Christian Writings)


Ed. R. Williams

(See chapters by R. A. Markus, The Legacy of Pelagius; and L. Wickham, Pelagianism in the East.)

The Pelagian heresy, at this present time the most recent of all, owes its rise to the monk Pelagius. Caelestius followed him so closely as his teacher, that their adherents are also called Caelestians. These men are such opponents of the grace of God . . . that without it, as they believe, man can do all the commandments of God. But, if this were true, God would evidently have said in vain, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” After a time, Pelagius was accused by the brethren of ascribing nothing to the grace of God for the purpose of keeping His commandments. He admitted the charge so far as, not indeed to put grace before free-will, but to supplant it by calculated cunning, and to say that it was given to men in order that whey they are commanded to do by their free-will they may the more easily be able to accomplish with the help of grace. Of course, by saying “the more easily be able” he wished it to be believed that, though with more difficulty, still men are able without grace to do the commandments of God. That grace, however, without which we cannot do anything that is good, they say consists simply in free-will, which, without any preceding merits of ours, our nature received from Him: God merely assisting us by His law and doctrine in order that we may learn what to do and what we ought to hope for, not in order that, by the gift of His Spirit, we may do what we have learned ought to be done. They confess in this way there is given to us divine knowledge whereby ignorance is dispelled, but they deny that love is given to us whereby we may lead a religious life: so that whereas knowledge, which, without love puffeth up, is the gift of God, love itself, which edifieth so that knowledge should not puff up, is not the gift of God. They empty of their meaning the prayers which the Church makes: whether for the unbelieving and those that refused the doctrine of God, that they may return to God; or for the faithful, that faith may be increased in them and that they may persevere therein. These things, they argue, a man does not receive from God, but from himself; and they say that the grace of God, whereby we are delivered from irreligion, is given us according to our merits. This [doctrine], indeed, Pelagius, at his trial before the bishops in Palestine, when he was afraid of being condemned, was forced to condemn; but, in his later writings, he is found to teach it. They even go so far as to say that the life of the righteous in this world has no sin, and thus the Church of Christ in this mortal state is so perfected as to be altogether “without spot or wrinkle. ” As if it were not the Church of Christ throughout the world which cries to God, “Forgive us our trespasses.” They also deny that infants, born according to Adam after the flesh, contract by their first [sc. Natural] birth the infection of the ancient death. So they assert that they are born without any bond of original sin: with the result, of course, that there is in them nothing that has to be released at their Second [or New] Birth. The reason why they are baptized is that by their New Birth they be adopted and admitted into the kingdom of God, carried from good to better—not, by that renewal, delivered from any evil of ancient entail. For even if they are not baptized, they promise them eternal life and bliss of a sort, though not within the kingdom of God. Adam also himself, they say, even if he had not sinned, would have undergone bodily death; though, if he so died, it would have been due not to the deserts of his guilt, but to the conditions of his nature. Several other things are charged against them. But these are especially the points on which it may be understood how all, or nearly all, the rest depend.

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original Latin text
From Augustine: De Haeresibus, 88
On Heresies
Pelagius' views and doctrine
Pelagius and Pelagianism
Description and assessment of Pelagianism
Augustine debate with Pelagius
Migne Latin
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Latina


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