Poll

Do you think Pelagius was a heretic?

Yes
18 (64.3%)
No
6 (21.4%)
Not sure
4 (14.3%)

Total Members Voted: 28

Author Topic: Pelagius and Pelagianism  (Read 16095 times)

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Offline ignatius

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Pelagius and Pelagianism
« on: November 05, 2007, 12:51:36 PM »
Salve!

What exactly was wrong about Pelagianism? What did Pelagius teach that was in error?
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 12:56:14 PM »
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Offline ignatius

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 01:13:04 PM »
St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 02:41:28 PM »
As far as I recall, his main motto was "possere non peccare," meaning, "it is possible not to sin." He meant it in the sense that a human being is perfectly able to be born, grow up, age, and die without committing any sin. Further, he taught that even if God does not shed His saving grace on a person, that person can by his/her effort appreciate what Christ did for the humankind, repent, be forgiven, and be saved. --G.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 03:12:37 PM »
If this is the same Religion that allows multiple wives? Than I would definitely joint if I weren't Orthodox. ;D
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« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 03:12:58 PM by Demetrios G. »
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2007, 03:38:50 PM »
Here's an interesting site you'd probably enjoy:

http://www.monachos.net/library/Study_Area_on_the_Pelagian_Controversy

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Offline ignatius

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2007, 04:11:37 PM »
Here's an interesting site you'd probably enjoy:

http://www.monachos.net/library/Study_Area_on_the_Pelagian_Controversy

God bless.


Yes, so my question is what is wrong with Pelagianism? Is Pelagius a Saint in Orthodoxy?
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2007, 04:47:01 PM »
Yes, so my question is what is wrong with Pelagianism? Is Pelagius a Saint in Orthodoxy?

AFAIK, his teaching was declared a heresy way before the Great Schism of 1054, so no, he cannot be a saint. As for what's wrong, the Church teaches that man cannot live and not sin - everyone sins. Also, without cooperation with God's grace, mere human effort to achieve salvation is futile. We do not believe in "autosoterism" (self-salvation).
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 04:49:19 PM by Heorhij »
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2007, 04:48:58 PM »
AFAIK, his teaching was declared a heresy way before the Great Schism of 1054, so no, he cannot be a saint.

the thing with pelagianism is that pelagius himself was cleared of all charges of heresy (afaik), but teachings ascribed to him were declared heretical.  the monachos site linked above does a good job of pointing that out.

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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2007, 06:09:08 PM »
Pretty much, if you look at it from a monachos.net point of view, there is no official Eastern position or understanding on Pelagius himself.  What is he accused of?  He's accused of believing salvation and prevention of sinning only matters on freedom of human will, not necessarily God's grace.  I think St. Augustine himself seems to stress God's grace in this regard, although many people today accuse St. Augustine of completely ignoring human free will, leading to Calvinistic ideas.  St. John Climacus offers us a nice balance, telling us it requires both free will and God's grace.

Nevertheless, I think Pelagius was condemned on the Council of Ephesus 431 without actually investigating what Pelagianism is exactly.  It was only done I suppose out of revered respect for St. Augustine who never got a chance to appear in the council against Nestorianism (St. Augustine has had a spiritual son who repented from Nestorianism by his fatherly help).

God bless.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 06:09:20 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline Didymus

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2007, 11:30:15 AM »
ignatius, I believe Pelagius taught that man could be saved without the grace of God contrary to Ephesians 2 although I may be wrong on this.
Little about Pelagius is known and all that is comes from the Blessed Augustine's refutation of him as best I recall.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2007, 01:05:51 PM »
Technically he is wrong. The theotokos counted herself as saved by Christ. Even though she never sinned. What was she saved from? other than bodily death.
Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2007, 01:11:17 PM »
Quick side question: what does afaik stand for?
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 01:15:04 PM »
afaik = as far as i know
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Offline Fr. David

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2007, 02:59:26 PM »
Technically he is wrong. The theotokos counted herself as saved by Christ. Even though she never sinned. What was she saved from? other than bodily death.

She was saved from ancestral mortality.  She cooperated with God's ever-present, urm, presence (Grace) and avoided personal sin (most Orthodox would say).  W/out God's grace, she wouldn't have had a snowball's chance of doing this.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2007, 03:14:33 PM »
Same difference. No?
Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2007, 08:04:41 PM »
afaik = as far as i know
Thank you sir.
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2010, 07:24:40 AM »
Note the distinction here between Pelagius himself and Pelagianism, because many of the teachings commonly attributed to Pelagianism were denied by him. This seems to be a nuanced issue among certain Orthodox circles today, as some are re-evaluating his teachings in a different light.  Please discuss your choice.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2010, 07:42:11 AM »
Before I can vote... which ideas attributed to him did he possibly not hold to?

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2010, 08:14:03 AM »
Sorry, on second thought, I think this topic may not be best suited for a poll. Can a mod please close this thread?   :-\

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2010, 10:17:51 AM »
Please see Message 88 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21719.msg331087.html#msg331087

The Beginnings of a Western and Eastern Reassessment of Pelagius

"Pelagius: To Demetrias"
by Deacon Geoffrey Ó Riada
[now Russian Orthodox priest in France]

http://web.archive.org/web/20040102171014/www.nireland.com/orthodox/pelagius.htm

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2010, 10:29:42 AM »
If Pelagius was condemned as a heretic, then he will always be one. I don't believe in rehabilitation. If we rehabilitate him, then we have to dig up all the others and it becomes one big mess.
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2010, 10:54:20 AM »
If Pelagius was condemned as a heretic, then he will always be one. I don't believe in rehabilitation. If we rehabilitate him, then we have to dig up all the others and it becomes one big mess.

From the link in message 3 by a ROCA priest:

"Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk's theology has come from what his opponents said about him — and when one's opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius's doorstep. Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius's works directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for "Pelagian" heresy was actually taught by him."


Offline Alpo

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2010, 11:03:27 AM »
Quote from: Fr. Dcn. Geoffrey
Yet no Eastern Fathers were acquainted with him, and condemnations of Pelagianism were included in the Oecumenical Synod of Ephesos only under Western influence.


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Offline Jetavan

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2010, 03:35:23 PM »
According to this reputable source, Pelagius was a mentor to King Arthur.
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2010, 03:45:53 PM »
According to this reputable source, Pelagius was a mentor to King Arthur.

The worst King Arthur movie ever made is a reputable source?  Methinks a scantily clad Kiera Knightly has addled your brain.  :D

But, I have it on good authority that he was involved in encouraging a young St Patrick.   ;)
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2010, 04:34:23 PM »
According to this reputable source, Pelagius was a mentor to King Arthur.

The worst King Arthur movie ever made is a reputable source?  Methinks a scantily clad Kiera Knightly has addled your brain.  :D

But, I have it on good authority that he was involved in encouraging a young St Patrick.   ;)
I agree that it was a bad one, but The Last Legion was even worse.
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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2010, 12:00:48 AM »
According to this reputable source, Pelagius was a mentor to King Arthur.

The worst King Arthur movie ever made is a reputable source?  Methinks a scantily clad Kiera Knightly has addled your brain.  :D

But, I have it on good authority that he was involved in encouraging a young St Patrick.   ;)
I agree that it was a bad one, but The Last Legion was even worse.

No kidding. I showed that to my Latin IV class when we were doing Medieval Latin and reading some of the documents related to Arthur. What was I thinking?
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2010, 12:06:10 AM »

From the link in message 3 by a ROCA priest:

"Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk's theology has come from what his opponents said about him — and when one's opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius's doorstep. Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius's works directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for "Pelagian" heresy was actually taught by him."

Then let's apply this standard equally.  What we know about Arius and to a lesser extent Nestorius, also come from their opponents.  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria gave a fair hearing to them?  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril carefully weighed the pros and cons and made a decision?  No, they vigorously defended the truth, had their opponents excommunicated and defended the Orthodox faith.  So if Athanasius and Cyril were vindicated in the treatment of their opponents, why hold Jerome and Augustine to a radically different standard unless, of course, their only fault is that they are from the "evil" West?
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Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #29 on: November 04, 2010, 01:05:59 AM »

From the link in message 3 by a ROCA priest:

"Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk's theology has come from what his opponents said about him — and when one's opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius's doorstep. Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius's works directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for "Pelagian" heresy was actually taught by him."


Then let's apply this standard equally.  What we know about Arius and to a lesser extent Nestorius, also come from their opponents.  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria gave a fair hearing to them?  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril carefully weighed the pros and cons and made a decision?  No, they vigorously defended the truth, had their opponents excommunicated and defended the Orthodox faith.  So if Athanasius and Cyril were vindicated in the treatment of their opponents, why hold Jerome and Augustine to a radically different standard unless, of course, their only fault is that they are from the "evil" West?

I am not sure how to answer you.  This appears to be stretching it to an argumentum ad absurdum.  Maybe someone else can comment?

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2010, 12:34:54 PM »

From the link in message 3 by a ROCA priest:

"Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk's theology has come from what his opponents said about him — and when one's opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius's doorstep. Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius's works directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for "Pelagian" heresy was actually taught by him."

Then let's apply this standard equally.  What we know about Arius and to a lesser extent Nestorius, also come from their opponents.  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria gave a fair hearing to them?  Do you think that Athanasius and Cyril carefully weighed the pros and cons and made a decision?  No, they vigorously defended the truth, had their opponents excommunicated and defended the Orthodox faith.  So if Athanasius and Cyril were vindicated in the treatment of their opponents, why hold Jerome and Augustine to a radically different standard unless, of course, their only fault is that they are from the "evil" West?
Well, if we agree that Augustine held some rather "un-Orthodox" ideas, then we might conclude that it's possible that Augustine's "un-0rthodox" ideas are what led him to condemn Pelagius.
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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2010, 12:52:54 PM »
Let's remember again that we're distinguishing Pelagius the man from the teachings commonly known as Pelagianism. Pelagianism is condemned heresy, there is no argument. But, did Pelagius really teach all of these things? If Pelagius didn't teach Pelagianism, then was he Orthodox?

We aren't tinkering at all with the dogma of the Church, simply how we should understand this single British monk from long ago, separate from what history has labelled as his "teachings."
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2010, 12:17:52 AM »

I am not sure how to answer you.  This appears to be stretching it to an argumentum ad absurdum.  Maybe someone else can comment?

You're saying that it is absurd to hold Augustine and Jerome to one standard and Cyril and Athanasius to another when it comes to defending the faith?  Seriously, the priest you quoted said that Jerome and Augustine were the sort of people who wouldn't allow for "fair hearings" when it came to Pelagius and his teachings.  Since when did heresy ever deserve or merit a "fair hearing."  We may question Augustine's and Jerome's own teachings but why should the fact that they were the leaders of condemnation (and the condemnation of Pelagius did follow in the east) against Arius in terms of the theological debate automatically make Pelagius not a heretic or just misunderstood?  What is the standard?
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Offline Rufus

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2010, 06:14:08 PM »

I am not sure how to answer you.  This appears to be stretching it to an argumentum ad absurdum.  Maybe someone else can comment?

You're saying that it is absurd to hold Augustine and Jerome to one standard and Cyril and Athanasius to another when it comes to defending the faith?  Seriously, the priest you quoted said that Jerome and Augustine were the sort of people who wouldn't allow for "fair hearings" when it came to Pelagius and his teachings.  Since when did heresy ever deserve or merit a "fair hearing."  We may question Augustine's and Jerome's own teachings but why should the fact that they were the leaders of condemnation (and the condemnation of Pelagius did follow in the east) against Arius in terms of the theological debate automatically make Pelagius not a heretic or just misunderstood?  What is the standard?

Don't we have authenticated writings of Arius? Moreover, the Arian heresy was more of a clear-cut matter than the grace-vs-works dichotomy in the West, which is a very subtle matter and subject to interpretation. It is hard enough to tell what exactly Augustine believed, so how are we ever to know what Pelagius was teaching?

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2010, 12:05:46 AM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2010, 12:37:45 AM »
Why not also rehabilitate Origen? We all know his condemnation was done just to crack down on neo-Origenists. (I'm not for this, just being snarky.)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2010, 02:52:09 AM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

Why not? There are degrees of divine revelation, after all...

Offline Rufus

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2010, 02:38:29 PM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

If heresy is just heresy, period, then we'd better anathematize St. Gregory of Nyssa, since he believed in apokatastasis.

Offline Jetavan

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2010, 02:50:53 PM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

If heresy is just heresy, period, then we'd better anathematize St. Gregory of Nyssa, since he believed in apokatastasis.
Apokatastasis means a restoration to a previous condition.

I don't think St. Gregory ever taught a restoration to a previous condition.
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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Offline Rufus

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2010, 09:56:43 PM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

If heresy is just heresy, period, then we'd better anathematize St. Gregory of Nyssa, since he believed in apokatastasis.
Apokatastasis means a restoration to a previous condition.

I don't think St. Gregory ever taught a restoration to a previous condition.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Apocatastasis#Gregory_of_Nyssa

Offline Jetavan

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #40 on: November 07, 2010, 03:57:56 AM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

If heresy is just heresy, period, then we'd better anathematize St. Gregory of Nyssa, since he believed in apokatastasis.
Apokatastasis means a restoration to a previous condition.

I don't think St. Gregory ever taught a restoration to a previous condition.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Apocatastasis#Gregory_of_Nyssa
That's not apokatastasis. That's the eventual discontinuation of the sufferings of Gehenna.
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.

Offline Rufus

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #41 on: November 07, 2010, 08:16:45 PM »
^Isn't heresy still heresy?  Or are there now grades of heresy?

If heresy is just heresy, period, then we'd better anathematize St. Gregory of Nyssa, since he believed in apokatastasis.
Apokatastasis means a restoration to a previous condition.

I don't think St. Gregory ever taught a restoration to a previous condition.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Apocatastasis#Gregory_of_Nyssa
That's not apokatastasis. That's the eventual discontinuation of the sufferings of Gehenna.

So if it's not apokatastasis, then why is it called apokatastasis?

And what difference does it make if I have still shown that St. Gregory believed in something that the Chruch in general has rejected?

Offline Aindriú

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2011, 08:04:44 PM »
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/highdesert/sin_and_grace_east_and_west

I was listening to this Podcast, and Fr. Gabriel says around 14:20 that Pelagius didn't teach what he was condemned of and basically was probably more correct than we give credit for. It bothered me. For both seeming to claim Pelagius was right and also that the Church was wrong (1500 years after the fact).

I'm going to need this.

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2011, 08:19:48 PM »
I think you might be overestimating the place of the person of Pelagius in the Tradition of the Church. On the highest and most significant levels that this matter was addressed, teachings attributed to Pelagius were condemned, but through the persons of some of his disciples, such as Rufinus and Celestius. I don't think that there is a really strong condemnation of the person of Pelagius himself, sort of like Origen.
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Offline Melodist

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Re: Pelagius and Pelagianism
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2011, 09:28:42 PM »
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/highdesert/sin_and_grace_east_and_west

I was listening to this Podcast, and Fr. Gabriel says around 14:20 that Pelagius didn't teach what he was condemned of and basically was probably more correct than we give credit for. It bothered me. For both seeming to claim Pelagius was right and also that the Church was wrong (1500 years after the fact).

He did say "As far as I'm concerned".

Pelagius letter to Demtrias

There are a handful of questionable statements like

"The advantage of being a Christian is that through the teaching of Jesus Christ we learn more fully the nature of goodness; and through his example, we are inspired to choose good."

"Thus the story of their banishment from Eden is in truth the story of how the human race gained its freedom:"

"Through him we are reborn as new men and women, because we can see clearly how we should live."

And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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