(CEN) US Diocese asked to rehabilitate Pelagius

The Diocese of Atlanta has been asked to rehabilitate Pelagius.

Delegates to the diocesan convention will be asked to reverse the condemnation of the Council of Carthage upon Pelagius, and to explore whether the Fifth century heretic may inform the theology of the Episcopal Church.

Resolution R11-7 before the convention states in part:

“Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition;”

“And whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans, Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition….”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Theology

15 comments on “(CEN) US Diocese asked to rehabilitate Pelagius

  1. Ralph says:

    [blockquote]…with some ridiculing the notion that the Diocese of Atlanta believed itself capable of redefining church doctrine.[/blockquote]
    Perhaps the resolution will fail, amid gales of laughter. Neil+ is too intelligent to let that pass, making him and DioATL the laughing stock of Christendom. On the other hand…

  2. Ralph says:

    Ummm, +Neil.

  3. cseitz says:

    I’ve consistently thought that emphasis on a ‘baptismal covenant’ as a set of things to pledge to do–and a unique TEC gift to the Communion!– threatened to evacuate the sacrament of its meaning in the NT. Perhaps this is where the desire to commend Pelagius consistently links up with the idea of making and living up to ‘baptismal covenants.’ We are created good (born that way) and then we try to be better, creating The Kingdom, etc. We pick up where Christ (who tried harder than anyone) left off, but was killed.

    At least the rehabilitation of Pelagius make sense for this view of Christian life.

  4. Grant LeMarquand says:

    Of course, Chris, while Pelagius was indeed wrong, he did actually TRY to obey (or at least he advocated a rigorous moral ethic…). Do you really think that this is what is actually desired by those advocateing on Pelagius’ behalf?

  5. BlueOntario says:

    Neo-Pelagianism? It sounds like it comes from a novel never to be published. Unfortunately, this is real life.

  6. cseitz says:

    We are all guessing to one degree or another. I do think there is a moralist strain in TEC liberalism, a strain that is unsure about the work of the Cross for sinful women and men. A strain that has a doctrine of creation that is far more than grace and nature cooperating, and is more like ‘God made me who I am in an essential sense and human flourishing is realising my true self’. I think that owes more to Valentinianism than Pelagianism, but doubtless there are overlaps. The Valentinians were not so much attenuating and reconstruing scripture’s ‘hypothesis’ in the manner of Marcion, by process of omission. (A single Gospel and Apostle). Rather, they thought scripture was somehow resourceful in pointing to a religious insight or spiritual priviledge out beyond it.
    Of course there is a lot of talk about spiritual rigorism in gnosticism, though it can be intellectual as much as real worldly.

  7. Ad Orientem says:

    One word… ANATHEMA

  8. Nikolaus says:

    In for a penny…in for a pound.

  9. IchabodKunkleberry says:

    After casting wide the net of inclusiveness, it would be wrong of TEC
    not to include those marginalized by historic Christianity.

  10. Bill C says:

    Rehabilitating Pelagius would be consistent with the stance of the Episcopalian Church.

  11. John Wilkins says:

    Well, in my opinion this is a much more interesting discussion than sexuality. Why not first examine the teachings of John Cassian before going to Pelagius?

  12. FrKimel says:


  13. Alta Californian says:

    How the delegates of one diocesan convention can “reverse” the decision of an ecumenical council is beyond me. But then, this happens all the time in the new world.

  14. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #13
    Alta California
    Some of us would say that it’s been going on for a thousand years.

  15. FrKimel says:

    Before this page disappears into the past, I thought I’d throw out a couple of reflections. As John Wilkins has noted, this really is an interesting question.

    (1) Was Pelagius a Pelagian? This is a purely historical question that only be resolved by historians. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Pelagius was misunderstood by St Augustine and others. But even if we should ultimately decide that Pelagius did not in fact mean what he was understood as saying, this does not mean that Pelagianism is not a heresy.

    (2) What is Pelagianism, as rejected by the Church catholic? This is not as easy to answer as one might think. Most Christians, from whatever tradition, reject Pelagianism; but what this means for a post-Tridentine Catholic or Eastern Orthodox is different than what it probably meant for St Augustine.

    (3) What is the authority of the 419 Synod of Carthage, particularly for the Churches of the Reformation? It was not an ecumenical council nor has it ever been acknowledged as such. Its canons were received into Eastern Christianity (though they are hardly ever referenced); but its doubtful that they are read in the same way as they are read in the West.

    All in all, some very interesting questions.