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Author Topic: Defining "Pelagianism" and "Semi-Pelagianism"  (Read 3037 times) Average Rating: 0
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Knee V
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« on: December 23, 2012, 03:44:38 PM »

There are a couple threads going on right now about Semi-Pelagianism. In at least one of those threads I see the term "Semi-Pelagianism" being used incorrectly, especially when one of the Reformers is being quoted. What I would like to do is to come to an agreement on the definition of "Pelagianism" and "Semi-Pelagianism" so that further discussions can be a little more fruitful. I offer these two definitions:

Pelagianism: mankind is able to repent and exercise faith and virtue apart from God's grace or any help from God. In other words, all that is required for our salvation is able to be done by man by himself.

Semi-Pelagianism: mankind is able to initially repent and believe in Christ by his own power apart from God's grace, but requires God's grace and assistance for everything else pertaining to his salvation from there on out.

Are these two definitions acceptable? Is there anything that you would add to or take away from these definitions?
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Knee V
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 03:57:43 PM »

One of the reasons I started this thread is also to demonstrate that neither "Pelagianism" nor "Semi-Pelagianism" is synonymous with "Synergy" nor "Synergism". A discussion of the definition of "Synergy" or "Synergism" would also be on topic.

I would offer as an example of true synergy what St Paul wrote to the Philippians: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (NKJV)
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 04:24:18 PM »

Those are two pretty good posts.  I agree with both, and add that (IIRC) Pelagianism denies original sin.

It's important to point out that true Biblical synergism (as exemplifed by Paul in Philippians 2:12-13) is neither Pelagian nor semi-Pelagian. God's grace must precede ANYTHING we do in regards to our salvation, but we still must 'cooperate' by repenting and believing--by trusting and obeying.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 05:17:33 PM »

I hope this thread gets more attention (though posts by Doubting Thomas are always welcome Smiley )...
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 05:31:18 PM »

Was just reading around this in Pascal recently.

Why is it the older I get, the more I like the French?
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 02:15:59 PM »

I always have a hard time defining Pelagianism.  I stumbled across today this interview with Nello Cipriani that may be of interest. 

I think your second definition on Semi-Pelagianism is accurate.  Semi-Pelagianism has to do with the initial act of faith.  I wish that a reliable Orthodox theologian would specifically engage with and respond to the canons of the 529 Council of Orange
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Knee V
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 02:34:36 PM »

I always have a hard time defining Pelagianism.  I stumbled across today this interview with Nello Cipriani that may be of interest. 

I think your second definition on Semi-Pelagianism is accurate.  Semi-Pelagianism has to do with the initial act of faith.  I wish that a reliable Orthodox theologian would specifically engage with and respond to the canons of the 529 Council of Orange

These canons seem to be addressing a common theme, that mankind has the power, in and of himself and apart from God's help, to do what God commands and to essentially justify himself. But where I take issue with these canons is how they seem to imply that man, before he sinned, had some kind of "natural" ability to believe and trust in God, but only needed grace after he sinned. I know that I am no reliable Orthodox theologian, but I do know that that is not Orthodox.
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 06:29:19 PM »


These canons seem to be addressing a common theme, that mankind has the power, in and of himself and apart from God's help, to do what God commands and to essentially justify himself. But where I take issue with these canons is how they seem to imply that man, before he sinned, had some kind of "natural" ability to believe and trust in God, but only needed grace after he sinned. I know that I am no reliable Orthodox theologian, but I do know that that is not Orthodox.

I'm not sure if I understand your comment.  Could you perhaps reword or elaborate what you think the Synod of Orange is saying. 
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 07:20:35 PM »

There are a couple threads going on right now about Semi-Pelagianism. In at least one of those threads I see the term "Semi-Pelagianism" being used incorrectly, especially when one of the Reformers is being quoted. What I would like to do is to come to an agreement on the definition of "Pelagianism" and "Semi-Pelagianism" so that further discussions can be a little more fruitful. I offer these two definitions:

Pelagianism: mankind is able to repent and exercise faith and virtue apart from God's grace or any help from God. In other words, all that is required for our salvation is able to be done by man by himself.

Semi-Pelagianism: mankind is able to initially repent and believe in Christ by his own power apart from God's grace, but requires God's grace and assistance for everything else pertaining to his salvation from there on out.

Are these two definitions acceptable? Is there anything that you would add to or take away from these definitions?


I explained the differences here
http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/2011/03/differences-semi-pelagianism-rome.html (The Differences: Semi-Pelagianism, Rome, Orthodoxy, Arminianism, and Calvinism)

In regards to semi-pelagianism you made the same mistake that alot of people make when talking about this topic.

Classical semi-pelagianism was mostly about """"some""" people having the ability to make the first move/step. It advocated a form of prevenient grace (God moving first or taking the first move) for most people.
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 07:23:06 PM »

Was just reading around this in Pascal recently.

Why is it the older I get, the more I like the French?

Wasn't he a Jansenist?
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
jnorm888
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 07:25:20 PM »

I always have a hard time defining Pelagianism.  I stumbled across today this interview with Nello Cipriani that may be of interest.  

I think your second definition on Semi-Pelagianism is accurate.  Semi-Pelagianism has to do with the initial act of faith.  I wish that a reliable Orthodox theologian would specifically engage with and respond to the canons of the 529 Council of Orange.  

These canons seem to be addressing a common theme, that mankind has the power, in and of himself and apart from God's help, to do what God commands and to essentially justify himself. But where I take issue with these canons is how they seem to imply that man, before he sinned, had some kind of "natural" ability to believe and trust in God, but only needed grace after he sinned. I know that I am no reliable Orthodox theologian, but I do know that that is not Orthodox.

I think you should carefully read the canons again. 2nd Orange was a moderate Augustinian western local synod. And so it's going to be pessimistic in the areas in where you said it wasn't.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 07:27:00 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
Knee V
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2013, 01:30:43 PM »

There are a couple threads going on right now about Semi-Pelagianism. In at least one of those threads I see the term "Semi-Pelagianism" being used incorrectly, especially when one of the Reformers is being quoted. What I would like to do is to come to an agreement on the definition of "Pelagianism" and "Semi-Pelagianism" so that further discussions can be a little more fruitful. I offer these two definitions:

Pelagianism: mankind is able to repent and exercise faith and virtue apart from God's grace or any help from God. In other words, all that is required for our salvation is able to be done by man by himself.

Semi-Pelagianism: mankind is able to initially repent and believe in Christ by his own power apart from God's grace, but requires God's grace and assistance for everything else pertaining to his salvation from there on out.

Are these two definitions acceptable? Is there anything that you would add to or take away from these definitions?


I explained the differences here
http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/2011/03/differences-semi-pelagianism-rome.html (The Differences: Semi-Pelagianism, Rome, Orthodoxy, Arminianism, and Calvinism)

In regards to semi-pelagianism you made the same mistake that alot of people make when talking about this topic.

Classical semi-pelagianism was mostly about """"some""" people having the ability to make the first move/step. It advocated a form of prevenient grace (God moving first or taking the first move) for most people.

You definitely seem to have a better grasp of it than I do.

Isn't saying that "some" people have the ability to make the first move/step making the same basic mistake though, that there are times when (some) men are able to live in some kind of state where Grace isn't necessary?
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orthonorm
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2013, 02:18:15 PM »

Was just reading around this in Pascal recently.

Why is it the older I get, the more I like the French?

Wasn't he a Jansenist?

It's complicated. He wrote in defense of a friend who was a Jansenist in a series of infamous letters upbraiding and mocking the Jesuits of the time for their method of reasoning and conclusions drawn therefrom.

In light of the polemical and satirical tone of Pascal's writing, it is unclear what he believed and frankly I think such questions about any author are as irrelevant as they are undecidable.

Certainly he found some clear inspiration from the Jansenists in his social circle and family.

His Pensees (IIRC) has no clear Jansenist slant.

In any case, I enjoyed revisiting his letters recently.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 02:18:46 PM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2013, 03:24:44 AM »

There are a couple threads going on right now about Semi-Pelagianism. In at least one of those threads I see the term "Semi-Pelagianism" being used incorrectly, especially when one of the Reformers is being quoted. What I would like to do is to come to an agreement on the definition of "Pelagianism" and "Semi-Pelagianism" so that further discussions can be a little more fruitful. I offer these two definitions:

Pelagianism: mankind is able to repent and exercise faith and virtue apart from God's grace or any help from God. In other words, all that is required for our salvation is able to be done by man by himself.

Semi-Pelagianism: mankind is able to initially repent and believe in Christ by his own power apart from God's grace, but requires God's grace and assistance for everything else pertaining to his salvation from there on out.

Are these two definitions acceptable? Is there anything that you would add to or take away from these definitions?


I explained the differences here
http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/2011/03/differences-semi-pelagianism-rome.html (The Differences: Semi-Pelagianism, Rome, Orthodoxy, Arminianism, and Calvinism)

In regards to semi-pelagianism you made the same mistake that alot of people make when talking about this topic.

Classical semi-pelagianism was mostly about """"some""" people having the ability to make the first move/step. It advocated a form of prevenient grace (God moving first or taking the first move) for most people.

You definitely seem to have a better grasp of it than I do.

Isn't saying that "some" people have the ability to make the first move/step making the same basic mistake though, that there are times when (some) men are able to live in some kind of state where Grace isn't necessary?

Yes, I believe it makes the same basic mistake.
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
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