Tag Archive | pelagius

Pelagius var ingen irrlärare, men däremot Augustinus som förnekade människans fria vilja

free will 2.jpgPelagius hade samma teologiska syn som kyrkofäderna före honom

Pelagius levde ca 354-418 e.Kr. och var en brittisk präst och en respekterad teolog med goda kunskaper i latin och grekiska (till skillnad från Augustinus). Pelagius var samtida med St. Patrick på Irland, och Pelagius främsta elev var Caelestius. 

Tyvärr har Peagius namn blivit som ett slags skällsord, speciellt från reformert håll, som grundar sig på att man tillskrivit honom lömska åsikter på mycket osäkra grunder. Pelagius har inte bara fiender idag, utan även under hans egen tid fanns teologer som inte höll med honom – och Augustinus verkar vara den man som startat schismen. Därför bör vi vara väldigt aktsamma så att vi inte hämtar vår information om Pelagius från Augustinus håll, för vem vill bli bedömd baserad på människor som ser sig själva som motståndare? Dessutom är det fullt möjligt att den före detta gnostikern Augustinus är den kyrkopersonlighet som introducerade de flesta irrlärorna till kyrkan. Än idag är vi drabbade av kalvinismen som använder Augustinus som den stora inspirationskällan.

Augustinus populariserade framför allt den falska gnostiska läran om arvsynden (med idén att allt kött är korrupt), och tanken att människan har en syndig natur redan från födseln. Det är av denna anledning som barndop blev populärt i många kyrkor, och ibland den enda formen av dop som tillåts. Pelagius tog avstånd från Augustinus läror om arvsynden, som inte heller någon av de tidigare kyrkofäderna höll med om (se denna artikel).

Eftersom Pelagius hade samma syn på frälsning, fri vilja, arvsynd, människans natur, etc, som kyrofäderna före honom, så finns det heller ingen anledning att mynta ett begrepp efter Pelagius (men det är förstås redan gjort). Det hade i så fall varit mer logiskt att beskriva folk som irenaeusianer, ignatianer, klementianer, el. dyl. De hade ju samma åsikter och levde före Pelagius. Augustinianer, hade också varit ett logiskt begrepp för att beskriva anhängare av Augustinus nygamla gnostiska läror.

Pelagius läror fördömdes på katolska möten, och därmed är saken klar?

Reformerta kristna, som vanligtvis kritiserar den katolska kyrkan, använder sig konstigt nog gärna av beslut från katolska kyrkomöten (koncilier, eller synoder) för att motivera varför Pelagius är en irrlärare. Men det finns flera faktorer som gör att deras fokus på katolska kyrkomöten (i stället för sola scripta) faller:

  • Alla kyrkomöten kom inte till slutsatsen om en fällande dom. 
  • Medan Pelagius läror deklarerades vara i sin ordning under möten där han var närvarande, så blev han fördömd under tre kyrkomöten där han inte vara närvarande och kunde försvara sig. Det kanske finns ett samband?
  • Det finns stöd för att åtminstone några av Pelagius fällande domar senare vändes till hans fördel under senare möten.
  • En människa (Augustinus) var drivande för att eliminera motstånd till sin egen lära och för att få pelagianism på fall. Vad hade hänt om Augustinus inte valt den vägen?
  • Kyrkomötet i Orange, som fördömde pelagianism, fördömde senare också kalvinismen som grundar sig i Augustinanism. 
  • Om dessa katolska kyrkomöten anses ha auktoritet, borde inte fler (alla?) katolska kyrkomöten vara ledande för oss? 

Många kyrkosamfund kallar ofta sitt högsta beslutande organ för synod, och ett möte inom en sådan ledning kallas alltså för synod eller kyrkomöte. Ibland även koncilium. Ett koncilium brukar vara en bredare sammankomst inom den kristna kyrkan för att avgöra lärofrågor och regler. Det finns sju koncilier som kallas ekumeniska och är erkända av både den östliga (ortodoxa kyrkan) och västliga kristenheten (Katolska Kyrkan och många protestantiska kyrkor).

Pelagius besökte Israel år 412, och 415 stod han framför synoden i Jerusalem, anklagad för att sprida irrläror. Han kunde dock försvara sig och klarade sig. För att slippa ytterligare attacker från Augustinus och prästen/teologen/historikenr/bibelöversättaren Hieronymus (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, eller Jerome) så författade Pelagius De libero arbitrio (”Om den fria viljan”) år 416, men den blev sedan grunden till att han några år senare anklagades igen av två afrikanska kyrkomöten där han ej var närvarande och förlorade. Hans motståndare hade alltså chansen att förvränga hans åsikter.

Det var alltså Augustinus som lyckades få Hieronymus att ansluta sig till idén att Pelagius propagerade för en farlig irrlära som måste stoppas så att den inte spreds vidare till öst. I stället blev Augustinus teologi den officiella, och tyvärr finns inte mycket av Pelagius originaltexter kvar. Det är inte helt otroligt om de förstördes i hög grad av Augustinus och Hieronymus eftersom de ansågs vara irrläror. I stället frodades och överlevde Augustinus beskrivning av Pelagius läror, vilket alltså inte alltid är detsamma som källan själv. Hieronymus lära om Jesus moder Maria som evig jungfru orsakade däremot inget larm om irrlära.

Det var till slut tre kyrkomöten som under Pelagius frånvaro fördömde pelagianism; I Kartago (Tunisien, Augustinus hemvist) år 418, Efesus år 431; och Orange år 529. Kyrkomötena i Orange och Kartago var inte fullt ekumeniska möten, och det betyder att det inte var en närvaro av biskopar från alla regioner. Resultaten från dessa möten var heller inte universellt accepterade av både östra och västra kyrkor (möjligen med undantag av beslutet i Efesus.)

Både Pelagius och Caelestius riskerade inledningsvis att fördömas och bannlysas av Påven Innocent I, men Innocents efterträdare Zosimus proklamerade Pelagius oskuld baserat på hans skrift Libellus fidei år 417. Zosimus ändrade sig sedan efter en förnyad undersökning av kyrkomötet i Kartago samt under påtryckningar. Det handlar alltså om vanliga dödliga människor som gör sina bedömningar, och som ändrar sig ibland beroende på åtalspunkter och försvarslinje.

En kompromiss mellan de två ståndpunkterna blev snart opulärt under namnet ”semi-pelagianism, men även där händer det att människor gör sina egna tolkningar vad begreppet betyder och vad som inbegrips i kompromissen.

Doktrinerna inom kalvinismen fördömes också under kyrkomötenchurch

Kyrkomötet i Orange fördömde även kalvinismens doktriner. Om mötet anses vara en auktoritet i ett avseende kanske de borde vara det i samtliga avseenden? Vidare har det förekommit kyrkomöten även på senare tid, och kanske dessa också måste anses vara   auktoritativa trots att det handlar om vanliga människor som röstar?

Om man måste acceptera att en lära är en irrlära för att ett kyrkomöte beslutat om det, så måste kalvinism anses vara det ännu mer än pelagianism med tanke på att fler kyrkomöten kom fram till att kalvinismen är en irrlära. Kalvinismens doktriner om predestination, begränsad försoning, och oemotståndlig (tvingande) nåd har alla blivit fördömda som läror genom historien genom diverse förespråkare (såsom Lucidus och Gotteschalcus). Vidare kan man undra hur kalvinisterna ser på andra beslut under andra möten, såsom kyrkomötet i Konstance år 1414 gällande John Huss, Worms år 1521 gällande Martin Luther, och Trent år 1561 gällande protestanter i sin helhet?

Ett kyrkomöte fördömde även ”arminianism” i Dort år 1618-1619, där arminianer tvingades stå på de anklagades sida. Det betyder att även arminianer borde akta sig för att förlita sig på kyrkomöten (som fördömer Pelagius), med tanke på att de själva är fördömda baserat på andra kyrkomöten.

ireneausPelagius teologi

Det mesta av material om Pelagius finns i händerna på hans fiender. Augustinus anklagade Pelagius för att förneka Guds nåd och för att anse att Guds nåd inte är nödvändigt för frälsning. Det är dock inte en korrekt beskrivning av Pelagius läror.

På liknande sätt är det vanliga spåret att man tillskriver pelagianism idén att människor har kapacitet att lyda Guds bud genom sin fri vilja och ”utan Guds nåd”. Men Pelagius inställning skiljer sig inte från Titus 2:11-12 där budskapet är att Guds nåd hjälper oss att leva gudfruktigt här och nu – vilket enligt verserna är något som erbjuds ALLA människor. Alla kan alltså använda sig av Guds nåd för att lyda Guds bud och sina samveten.

Titus 2:1 Ty Guds nåd har uppenbarats till frälsning för ALLA MÄNNISKOR. 12 Den fostrar oss att säga nej till ogudaktighet och världsliga begär och att leva anständigt, rättfärdigt och gudfruktigt i den tid som nu är

Rom. 2:6 Han skall ge var och en efter hans gärningar: evigt liv åt dem som uthålligt gör det goda och söker härlighet, ära och odödlighet, 8 men vrede och dom åt dem som söker sitt eget och inte lyder sanningen utan orättfärdigheten. — 13 Det är inte lagens hörare som blir rättfärdiga inför Gud, utan lagens görare skall förklaras rättfärdiga14 Ty när hedningar som saknar lagen, av naturen gör vad lagen befaller, då är de sin egen lag, fastän de inte har lagen. 15 De visar att det som lagen kräver är skrivet i deras hjärtan. Om det vittnar också deras samveten och, när de är tillsammans, deras tankar, som anklagar eller försvarar dem.  

Om Guds nåd har uppenbarats till frälsning för ALLA MÄNNISKOR, så innebär det att människorna är skapta med en grundkapacitet att söka och finna Gud ( se Apg. 17). Vi är också skapta för att kunna omvända oss och lyda Guds bud. M. a. o. är det inte en korrekt beskrivning att säga att pelagianer tror att människor kan lyda Guds bud ”utan Guds nåd”.

Joh. 1:8 Själv var han inte ljuset, men han kom för att vittna om ljuset.9 Det sanna ljuset, som ger ljus åt alla människor, skulle nu komma till världen. 

Apg 17:26 Och han har av en enda människa skapat alla människor och folk, för att de skall bo över hela jorden. Han har fastställt bestämda tider och utstakat de gränser inom vilka de skall bo, 27 för att de skall söka Gud, om de möjligen skulle kunna treva sig fram till honom och finna honom, fastän han inte är långt borta från någon enda av oss. 

Pelagius ansåg INTE att människan kan frälsa sig själv, såsom Augustinus anklagade honom för. En sådan lära hade onekligen varit en irrlära, men det är alltså ingenting som Pelagius lärde ut. Pelagius ansåg däremot att även om människan är helt förlorad utan Gud och hans nåd, så kan människan absolut undvika synd eftersom människan inte är ur stånd att kunna välja det goda. Även ”andligt döda” människor (som lever i synd) kan välja den goda vägen – att omvända sig och vända sig till Gud.

En annan teologisk åsikt som kopplas ihop med Pelagius är att han INTE tror på arvsynden. Detta är däremot inte en felaktig beskrivning av Pelagius åsikter eftersom han mycket riktigt inte alls håller med Augustinus om arvsynden. Augustinus  trodde starkt på både arvsynden och att människan efter syndafallet hamnat i ett annat läge där hon är ur stånd att kunna omvända sig till Gud.

Pelagius höll med kyrkofäderna före honom gällande människans fria vilja och arvsynden, medan Augustinus läror överensstämde mer med gnostikernas. Kalvinismen har sin start i Augustinianism, och Augustinus har sin start i gnostisism. Detta tydliggörs när man läser citat från tidigare kyrkofäder. Tertullian, Hippolytus och Irenaeus skrev mycket material emot gnostiska läror. Pelagius, precis som kyrkofäderna före honom, ansåg att nyfödda barn är precis lika oskyldiga som Adam var innan han syndade.

Pelagius ansåg att människans natur inte var drabbad av Adams synd (synder är något som inte kan ärvas), och därför förtjänar människor helvetet endast genom sitt eget agerande och inte pga dåliga gener. Pelagius ansåg att människan är skapt för att kunna välja mellan gott och ont, utan vara bundna till en viss natur som tvingar dem till det ena eller det andra alternativet.

Pelagius ansåg att Augustinus hade en väldigt mörk syn på människan, där hon ansågs vara syndfull till sin natur redan från födseln och inte kapabel till att segervisst vända ryggen åt det onda. Pelagius ansåg i stället att människan har en naturlig förmåga att välja det goda i stället för det onda. Jesus krav ”var fullkomliga” (”be ye perfect”) tolkade Pelagius som att människan verkligen har en inbyggd kapacitet att kunna lyda det kravet.

Matt. 5:48 Var alltså fullkomliga, såsom er Fader i himlen är fullkomlig.

Pelagius utmanade den nya formen av Kyrka som Augustinus varit med om att forma, och hävdade att både lagen och evangelium kan leda en människa till himlen. Annars skulle ingen under det gamla testamentet kunna bli frälst. Pelagius menade att det handlar om att leva i rättfärdighet. Inte på ett sådant sätt att han lärde ut att gärningar allena kan frälsa, men tro allena kan heller inte frälsa.

Jesus dog för människorna på korset en gång för alla (det finns ingen förlåtelse utan blod), och därmed upphörde det temporära djuroffersystemet.

Frälsning enligt Nya Testamentet (tro och rättfärdighet!):

Jak. 2:20 Men vill du inte inse, du tanklösa människa, att tron utan gärningar är död? 21 Blev inte vår fader Abraham erkänd som rättfärdig genom gärningar, när han bar fram sin son Isak på altaret? 22 Du ser att hans tro samverkade med hans gärningar och att det var genom gärningarna som tron blev fullbordad. 23 Så uppfylldes Skriften som säger: Abraham trodde Gud, och det räknades honom till rättfärdighet, och han kallades Guds vän. 24 Ni ser alltså att en människa erkänns som rättfärdig genom gärningar och INTE bara genom tro25 Blev inte skökan Rahab på samma sätt erkänd som rättfärdig genom gärningar, när hon tog emot sändebuden och förde ut dem en annan väg? 26 Liksom kroppen utan ande är död, så är tron utan gärningar död.

Frälsning enligt Gamla Testamentet (tro och rättfärdighet!):

Hes. 18:4 Se, varje levande själ tillhör mig, fadern såväl som sonen. De är mina. Den som syndar skall dö. 5 Om en man är rättfärdig och gör det som är rätt och rättfärdigt, —  om han lever efter mina stadgar och håller mina föreskrifter, så att han gör det som är rätt och gott, då är han rättfärdig och skall förvisso få leva, säger Herren, Herren.—- 19 Men ni frågar: ”Varför skall inte sonen bära på sin fars missgärning?” Sonen har gjort det som är rätt och rättfärdigt. Han har hållit alla mina stadgar och följt dem, och därför skall han förvisso få leva20 Den som syndar skall dö. En son skall inte bära sin fars missgärning, och en far skall inte bära sin sons missgärning. Den rättfärdiges rättfärdighet skall vara hans egen, och den ogudaktiges ogudaktighet skall vara hans egen.21 Men om den ogudaktige vänder om från alla de synder som han har begått och håller alla mina stadgar och gör det som är rätt och rättfärdigt, då skall han förvisso leva och inte dö. 22 Ingen av de överträdelser han har begått skall då tillräknas honom. Genom den rättfärdighet han har visat skall han få leva. 23 Skulle jag finna någon glädje i den ogudaktiges död? säger Herren, Herren. Nej, jag vill att han vänder om från sin väg och får leva.24 Men när den rättfärdige vänder om från sin rättfärdighet och handlar orätt och gör samma vidriga gärningar som den ogudaktige, skulle han då få leva? Ingen av de rättfärdiga gärningar som han har gjort skall då bli ihågkommen. Genom den trolöshet som han har begått och genom den synd han har gjort skall han dö.25 Ändå säger ni: Herrens väg är inte rätt. Hör då, ni av Israels hus: Är inte min väg rätt? Är det inte era vägar som inte är rätta? 26 När den rättfärdige vänder om från sin rättfärdighet och gör det som är orätt, så dör han på grund av det. Genom det orätta han har gjort skall han dö. 27 Men när den ogudaktige vänder om från sin ogudaktighet och gör det som är rätt och rättfärdigt, skall hans liv bli bevarat. 28 Därför att han kom till insikt och vände om från alla de överträdelser han hade gjort, skall han förvisso leva och inte dö. 29 Ändå säger Israels hus: Herrens väg är inte rätt! – Är inte mina vägar rätta, ni av Israels hus? Är det inte era vägar som inte är rätta?30 Därför skall jag döma er, var och en efter hans gärningar, ni av Israels hus, säger Herren, Herren. Vänd om och vänd er bort från alla era överträdelser för att er missgärning inte skall få er på fall. 31 Kasta bort ifrån er alla de överträdelser genom vilka ni har syndat och skaffa er ett nytt hjärta och en ny ande. Ty inte vill ni väl dö, ni av Israels hus? 32 Jag finner ingen glädje i någons död, säger Herren, Herren. Vänd därför om, så får ni leva.

Pelagius ansåg också att man kunde bli frälst helt separat från både kyrka och präster, genom tro och lydnad av Gud. Därmed inte sagt att Pelagius rekommenderade en församlingslös tillvaro. På Pelagius tid var det förstås inte alltid en populär lära att det fanns chans till frälsning utanför en kyrkokrets, och framför allt inte utanför den romerska kyrkan som hunnit etablera sig som den yttersta instansen för lärofrågor i form av biskopen av Rom (påven). Pelagius besökte Rom och han fick inga goda intryck av den romerska församlingen. Exempelvis motsatte han sig den hierarkiska strukturen, och framför allt fokuset på påven. Den romerska kyrkans avslappnade attityd gentemot synd kopplade Pelagius ihop med dess lära om nåden som alltid förlåter oavsett vad du gör.

Citat från Pelagius själv, och några av hans närmastebibles

Julian of Eclanum systematiserade Pelagius läror. Tack till Jesse Morell för de flesta av citaten nedan.

“We [Pelagians] maintain that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God’s grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil.” / Julian of Eclanum’s Pelagian Statement of Faith

We, the Pelagians, teach] that nothing of evil passed from Adam upon the rest of humanity except death, which is not always an evil, since to the martyrs, for instance, it is for the sake of rewards; and it is not the dissolution of the bodies, which in every kind of men shall be raised up, that can make death to be called either good or evil, but the diversity of merits which arises from human liberty.” / Julian of Eclanum’s Pelagian Statement of Faith

Pelagius: “I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to dis-annul it deserve everlasting punishment.”  / On The Grace Of Christ, And On Original Sin by Augustine

Pelagius: “This grace we do not allow to consist only in the law but also in the help of God. God helps us through His teaching and revelation by opening the eyes of our heart, by pointing out to us the future so that we may not be preoccupied with the present, by uncovering the snares of the devil, by enlightening us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.”  / Life and Letters by B. R. Rees, 1988 Edition, p. 33.

Pelagius: God always aids by the help of his grace. God aids us by his doctrine and revelation, while he opens the eyes of our heart; while he shows us the future, that we may not be engrossed with the present; while he discloses the snares of the devil; while he illuminates us by the multiform and ineffable gift of heavenly grace. Does he who says this, appear to you to deny grace? Or does he appear to confess both divine grace and the freewill of man?” / De Gr. Chr. 4, 7

Pelagius: “Behold, before your blessedness, this epistle clears me, in which we directly and simply say, that we have entire freewill to sin and not to sin, which, in all good works, is always assisted by divine aid. Let them read the letter which we wrote to that holy man, bishop Paulinus, nearly twelve years ago, which perhaps in three hundred lines supports nothing else but the grace and aid of God, and that we can do nothing at all of good without God. Let them also read the one we wrote to that sacred virgin of Christ, Demetrias, in the east, and they will find us so praising the nature of man, as that we may always add the aid of God’s grace. Let them likewise read my recent tract which we were lately compelled to put forth on freewill, and they will see how unjustly they glory in defaming us for denial of grace, who, through nearly the whole text of that work, perfectly and entirely profess both free will and grace.”/ De Gr. Chr. 31, 35, 37, 4, Pelagius i ett brev till Innocent

Som vi kan se så ansåg Pelagius att nåd verkligen är nödvändigt för människor ska kunna välja det rätta för att uppnå frälsning. Även den fria viljan ansåg han vara en nådegåva – given till alla vid skapelsen. Han ansåg därför att människan i allra högsta grad är frälst av nåd, och att vi omöjligt skulle kunna bli frälsta utan denna nåd. Däremot motsatte sig Pelagius Augustinus tolkning av nåd, som i stället handlar om en nåd som förlorades genom arvsynd och som resulterade i människans oförmåga att lyda vilket vidare resulterar i att nåden måste förnyas av Gud (och som tyvärr inte är något som erbjuds alla människor enligt samma tankegång). Pelagius bejakade alltså både människans fria vilja och och behovet av Guds nåd, medan Augustinus förnekade friheten att kunna välja eftersom han missförstod betydelsen av Guds nåd:

 “I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed./ Retractations by Augustine

Det ska också sägas att Augustinus ändrat ståndpunkter genom sitt liv, vilket framkommer i hans böcker. Det började med gnosticism (i form av manikeism), men även om Augustinus lämnade det spåret så kan man ibland se en del liknande tankegångar i texterna. Det han skriver om den fria viljan i en skrift kanske skiljer sig från vad han skriver i ämnet ett senare skede. Precis som kalvinister inte lyckas vara konsekventa med sina doktriner idag, så kunde inte heller Augustinus vara konsekvent under sin tid. Augustinus har ställt till mycket problem för oss kristna idag eftersom han lyckades få in så mycket gnosticism i kyrkosystemet som många kristna människor fortfarande tror på. Arvsynd, predestinationsläran, monergism, den katolska kyrkans övergripande makt, böner för döda, tillbedjan av Maria, barndop, sex är syndigt även inom äktenskapet, upphörande av andens gåvor, etc. Du kan läsa om avsaknad av  ”arvsynden” i Rom. 5 här.

 “I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’” / The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., 1840 Edition, p. 310

What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity!” / An Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume Two, p. 209, Published by Carlton & Porter

  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Encyclopedia Columbia
  •  ”Augustine of Hippo”, Peter Brown
  • Jesse Morell, Open air outreach

Quotes from the old church fathers where they deny original sin / sinful nature

handpåläggningThe pre-Nicene church fathers did not believe in the sinful nature

It’s not enough to go back to Luther and Calvin to check the views of the early church, but we must go further back than that. If we do, we will soon notice that Luther and Calvin took impression of Augustine, and Augustine believed the contrary to the early church fathers before him when it comes to the issue of the sinful nature and a number of other subjects. Augustine must be blamed for the new unbiblical teachings which were brought into church due to him, and which today are considered truths in particularly the reformed church. We must therefore go back to the early church fathers before Augustine, and then we can see how their stance lines up perfectly with the Bible.

It’s true that Adam’s sin affected us a great deal, because the ground is cursed due to him and we can’t reach the tree of life due to him, which means that his sin brought physical death on all his posterior (including Jesus before he rose again). We’re bound by weakness, shame, fear, suffering and many natural shortcomings due to being related to Adam, but we certainly didn’t inherit his SIN. Romans 5:12 tells us that DEATH (not SIN) passed upon us BECAUSE all sinned. Not because Adam sinned. The physical death that we get due to Adam is not a punishment, but rather something that we get out of the mercy by the providence of God. The only other alternative would be to continue living on for ever without dying – in this present cursed world. That would be a cruel fate.

Augustine’s views about infants who die without water baptism

Unfortunately, Augustine only knew little Greek (unlike Pelagius who knew both Greek and Hebrew) and seems to have misunderstood the teaching of the Greek Fathers who lived before him, because he reached different conclusions than they did. The Manicheans were a gnostic cult Augustine originally belonged to and which advocated that the nature of man can be corrupt to the point that his will is powerless to obey God’s commands”. Chadwick p. 228(2)

Some quotes from and about Augustine:

But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that on in whom all have sinned…Even the infants are, according to the true belief, born in sin, not actual but original, so that we confess they have need of grace for the remission of sins. (Augustine, City of God bk. 16 ch. 27)

As nothing else is done for children in baptism but their being incorporated into the church, that is, connected with the body and members of Christ, it follows, that when this is not done for them, they belong to perdition. / III. 4

such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: ‘Judgment from one offence to condemnation’ (Romans 5:16), and again a little after: ‘By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation’ (Romans 5:18). / On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, ; cf. Study by the International Theological Commission

What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity! / Simon Episcopius (An Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume Two, p. 209, Published by Carlton & Porter)

Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”/ John Wesley

The pre-Nicene church fathers all taught against the gnostic idea that we are born with a sinful nature

You will sometimes see quotes by old church fathers from Calvinists who suggest that they teach original sin, but if you scrutinize those quotes and also read them in context, you will see that they teach no such thing. We also get a clearer picture if we compare with other texts from the same church father, and obviously the church fathers don’t contradict themselves. It’s very common to misunderstand the consequences of Adam’s sin (physical death) thinking it’s about a forced nature. If an original sin is forced upon us, then naturally we would have the best excuse for sin there is, and Jesus (clearly without original sin) would have a great advantage over us.

Ignatius of Antioch, 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. A disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.

I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same, sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such NOT by nature, but by their own choice. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5, + Pg.61 vol. 1)

There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5)

Irenaeus of Lyon 120-202 AD. The Apostle John had a disciple named Polycarp, who had a disciple named Irenaeus.

Men are possessed with free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII)

Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil; so that, without compulsion, he has the power, by his own will and choice, to perform God’s commandments. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXIX)

Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not worked good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way, nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it. (Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 37)

This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…  (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)

And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. (Against Heresies, Book V, XXVII, 2)

Justin Martyr, 110-165 AD

For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (Apology 1, Chapter 28)

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Apology 1, ch. 43)

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” /Apology 2 Ch.7 2 (+ The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p.354)

But as my discourse is not intended to touch on this point, but to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming ”gods,” and of having power to become sons of the Highest; and shall be each by himself judged and condemned like Adam and Eve. Now I have proved at length that Christ is called God. / Dialogue:124

Now, we know that he did not go to the river because He stood in need of baptism, or of the descent of the Spirit like a dove; even as He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit./ Dialogue: 88

But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.—Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded,” that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be./ Dialogue: 140Neither do we maintain that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer. Rather, we maintain that each man acts rightly or sins BY HIS FREE CHOICE….Since God in the beginning MADE THE RACE OF ANGELS AND MEN WITH FREE WILL, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. (c. 160, E), 1:190

God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God. / Dialogue cxli

Clement 2nd, 80-140 ADThe first Apostolic Father of the Church. (According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century. The author quotes from some document for the sayings of Jesus.)

Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8

He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice… 

So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD. A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)

Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)

Tatian the Assyrian 120–180 AD Theologianjesus

Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)

Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice, he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)

Tertullian 160-225 AD

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and powerFor a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)

No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.  (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Athenagorus of Athens, 133-190 AD Apologist

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them and others faithless), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)

Aristides of Athens, 134 AD (Marcianus Aristides)

 

Theophilus of Antioch, –185 (Succeeded Eros c. 169)

Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (Apology to Autolycus, ch. XXVII.—The nature of man. c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)

Hyppolytus of Rome, 170 – 235 AD theologian

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason.Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)

Hoodwinking multitudes, [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] deceived many persons of this description who had become his disciples. He taught them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin. However, he said that they were beyond the reach of danger because they belonged to the perfect power.—Subsequent to baptism, these [heretics] promise another, which they call Redemption. And by this, they wickedly subvert those who remain with them in expectation of redemption. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.92)

Origen (Adamantius) 185 – 253 AD Scholar, theologian

The Scriptures emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right. We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. FOR IT IS NOT THE NATURE IN US THAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE EVIL; rather, it is the VOLUNTARY CHOICE that works evil” (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

the heretics introduce the doctrine of different natures (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 291, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages.They essentially destroy free will by introducing RUINED NATURES incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, p. 308)

Cyprian, 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage

The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (c. 250, Vol. 5, p. 547)

Novatian, (Novatus) 200–258 AD Scholar, priest, theologian and antipope

When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)

Lactantius 240-320 AD

We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues. (Ch. 16 bk 4 Divine Inst.)

Eusebius, 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again,making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature! / The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66)

Methodius, 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)

There is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will? and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

For man received power, and enslaved himselfnot because he was overpowered by irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him…I say therefore, that God purposing thus to honor man…has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes,and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that he deprives him again of free will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius + The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 746

I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them. It is through actions that evil exists. Each man is evil in consequences of what they practice. It all has a beginning.The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

The Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 696)

Arnobius of Sicca, –330 AD

Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64

Cyril of Jerusalem, 312-386

Lecture IV 18″Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth.”20″There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.”21″The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator of necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.” / Lecture IV 18, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.” (Catechetical Lectures IV . 19)

And you must know your soul to be endowed with free-will, and to be God’s fairest work in the image of himself. It is immortal in as far as God grants it immortality. It is a rational living creature not subject to decay, because these qualities have been bestowed by God upon it. And it has the power to do what it chooses. For you do not sin because you were born that way, nor if you fornicate is it by chance. And do not take any notice of what some people say, that the conjunctions of the stars compel you to fall into unclean living. Why should you avoid acknowledging that you have done wrong by blaming it onto the stars that had nothing to do with it? (Catechetical Lectures IV . 18 (109)

John Crysostom, 347-407 AD Archbishop of Constantinoplesamvete

All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end./On Hebrews, Homily 12, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Jerome, 347 – 420 AD, Priest, historian, theologian

God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Pelagius, 360 – 420, British monk and theologian (with knowledge in Greek, unlike Augustine). Notice below how he is in agreement with all the early church fathers about man’s free will and that we have not inherited Adam’s sin. Pelagius wrote ”On Nature” and ”Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will”, and in these he suggests that Augustine has been affected by Manicheanism (Augustine was a former gnostic) by mixing christianity with pagan fatalism. Manicheanism teaches that the spirit is God-created, while the flesh is corrupt since it had not been created directly by God. Augustine is the great heretic and has brought in many heresies into church, and Pelagius continues to be wrongly attacked by christians, despite that he was both Biblical and taught the same things as all the church fathers before him.

Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to show what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)

It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creature wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good – good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)

Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press)

And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature, when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)

Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press)

Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)

I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’ John Wesley

Here is a good video when it comes to the topic of Augustine’s corruption of the church:

Was Pelagius really a heretic?

The original blog article can be found here, and read my own blog article about Pelagius here

 

This is an excerpt from the footnotes of Jesse Morrell’s  upcoming book, “The Vicarious Atonement of Christ.”

Calvinists typically accuse the teachers of free will, like Charles Finney and John Wesley, of being “Pelagians.” However, this is fallacious on many levels, not only because it is used as an ad hominem attack, but also because it is a non sequitur. Just because Pelagius taught free will does not mean that everyone who believes in free will is a Pelagian. The same logic would make everyone who believes in the Trinity a Pelagian, because Pelagius taught that too. But the doctrine of free will was the universal doctrine of the Christian church, long before Pelagius even existed. On the doctrine of free will, Pelagius certainly was orthodox as he agreed with all of the Early Church Fathers before Augustine on that point. (See the article on the bottom of this post that proves this)

Calvinists also like to point out that, “Pelagianism has been condemned as heresy by councils all throughout Church history.” I always find it amazing when the so called “Reformed” and “Sola Scriptura” crowd will point to Catholic councils about Pelagius. They are not very reformed if they appeal to Rome, and they are not sola scriptura if they appeal to councils.

There were three councils that condemned Pelagianism; the Council of Ephesus in the year 431; the Council of Carthage in the year 418; and the Council of Orange in the year 529. This is because Pelagius was not invited nor present to defend himself but his opponents and adversaries stated his doctrine for him. When Pelagius was able to defend himself, the Council of Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius orthodox. And Pope Zosimus also declared Pelagius’ orthodoxy in 417. He was always acquitted when present to clarify and defend his views. If these are our authorities to determine orthodoxy, do we accept the ones in favor of Pelagius or the ones against him?

In addition, the Council of Orange and the Council of Carthage were not ecumenical councils. They did not consist of Bishops from the entire church, which mean that the rulings of the Councils were not universally affirmed by the Eastern and Western churches.

If heresy is heresy because a council says so, or because of majority vote, Calvinism must be more heretical than Pelagianism was because there were more councils that condemned Calvinism than condemned Pelagianism. The Calvinist doctrines of predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace were condemned throughout history. Lucidus was condemned by the Council of Oral in 473, Council of Arles in 475, and Council of Orange in 529. And Gottschalk (Gotteschalcus) was condemned by the Council at Mentz in 848 and the Council of Chiersey (Quiercy) in 849. And what do Calvinists think of the Council of Constance in 1414 for John Huss, or the Council of Worms in 1521 for Martin Luther, or the Council of Trent in 1561 for the Protestants? Are these Councils not the voice of Orthodoxy as Ephesus and Carthage supposedly were?

In fact, the Council of Orange that condemned Pelagianism also condemned the doctrines of Calvinism. If the council is authoritative in the former case, it must be equally authoritative in the latter as well. But if it was mistaken in the latter case, maybe it was mistaken in the former as well.

On the other hand, the Synod of Philadelphia declared Albert Barnes as orthodox in 1829, after he presented his case for rejecting limited atonement, natural inability, and the imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt to all his posterity. And Lyman Beecher was accused of heresy for his new school theology in 1835 but was acquitted by the Synod of Cincinatti. Though “New England Theology” or “New School Theology” was accused of being “Pelagian” by “Old School Calvinists,” it was nevertheless declared orthodox by Christian Synods.

And just so that nobody feels left out, the Synod of Dort condemned the doctrines of Arminianism in 1618-1619. Certainly the Arminian camp should not, therefore, give credibility to councils which determine orthodoxy by popular vote.

But to determine if Pelagius really was a heretic, we should go to his actual words to see what he taught. It is a common error for Calvinists to quote from Pelagius’ opponents and accusers to express what Pelagius taught, rather than to quote from Pelagius himself. Certainly, Calvinists would not like it if people quoted from the opponents of Reformed Theology to state what Calvinism teaches. We should give Pelagius the same honesty and fairness that we would want our doctrine to be treated with.

Augustine, the former gnostic, and his many heretical views

Augustine, a former gnostic, lived between 354 and 430 AD, and introduced the following heretical views into church and made them popular

1. Absolute predestination (God decides who will be saved/doomed)
2. Impossibility of falling away or apostasy (Eternal Security)
3. Man has no free will (monergism)
4. One cannot know if he/she is saved (since also those who are carnal minded might be saved)
5. God commands impossibilities (God requesting man to stop sinning which he cannot do)
6. The supreme authority of the Roman church
7. Purgatory
8. Prayers for the dead
9. The damnation of unbaptized infants and adults
10. Sex is sinful also within a marriage because depravity is inherited (hence the rise of monasteries)
11. Mary never committed sin, and we do well to worship her/pray to/through her
12. The gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues have ceased
13. Apocrypha is included in the Scriptures
14. Eucharist is necessary for salvation
15. Giving people the official ”saint” title

Unlike Pelagius, Augustine didn’t understand much Greek. The historian Neander observed that Augustine’s teaching ”contains the germ of the whole system of spiritual despotism, intolerance, and persecution, even to the court of the Inquisition”. He instigated bitter persecutions against the Bible-believing Donatists who were striving to maintain pure churches after the apostolic faith.

Augustine interpreted Bible prophecy allegorically; among other things teaching that the Catholic Church is the kingdom of God.

Augustine was one of the fathers of the heresy of infant baptism, claiming that unbaptized infants were lost, and calling all who rejected infant baptism ”infidels” and ”cursed”.

Augustine exalted church tradition above the Bible and said,”I should not believe the gospel unless I were moved to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church”. 

He was among the first who taught a-millennialism and that the nephilim were descendents of Cain instead of (as the Bible says) a mixture of angels and female human beings.

Augustine said:

“By Adam’s transgression, the freedom of’ the human will has been completely lost.”

“By the greatness of the first sin, we have lost the freewill to love God.”

“By subverting the rectitude in which he was created, he is followed with the punishment of not being able to do right” and “the freedom to abstain from sin has been lost as a punishment of sin.”

According to Wikipedia we can learn: 

He was contemporary with Jerome and Ambrosius. In his early years he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the Neo-Platonism. Although he later abandoned Neoplatonism some ideas are still visible in his early writings. After his conversion to Christianity, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives. He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war.

When the Western Roman Empire was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name), distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order; his memorial is celebrated 28 August, the day of his death. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation due to his teaching on salvation and divine grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is considered Blessed, a title meaning that the Church has officially recognized that Augustine is most likely in heaven. This is a step in the Eastern Orthodox process of canonization. Much of Augustine’s later life was recorded by his friend Possidius, bishop of Calama (present-day Guelma, Algeria), in his Sancti Augustini Vita. Possidius admired Augustine as a man of powerful intellect and a stirring orator who took every opportunity to defend Christianity against its detractors.Reformation theologians such as Martin Luther and John Calvin would look back to him as their inspiration.

Compared with Augustine,  Pelagius was way more consistent with the Bible. Read more about him in another blog post in the same Category

Pelagius has been falsely judged by his critics

Unlike Augustine, Pelagius knew Greek. Pelagius did not teach that man can save himself. He only taught that a man can live a righteous life via free will choice. The idea that man can save himself is what came from Augustine’s accusations against him, as Calvinists do with Arminians today when they accuse them of teaching ”works salvation”. True Pelagianism is truth according to what the early Church taught, not as Augustine described it. What Augustine described is without a doubt heresy, but it’s not what Pelagius actually taught. This is evident in the writings of Pelagius, as well as in the fact that the councils could find no fault in his teachings 2 times that he appeared before them in his own defense. When he was finally marked as a heretic the third time around, it was when he could not be present to defend himself (in Tunisia where Augustine resided) and Augustine and Jerome were present to misrepresent his position.

Most of the information we have about Pelagius rests in the hands of his enemies. That is not enough for a righteous judgment. If God judged us by the words of our enemies, we would be outraged at the injustice. It is unfair for us to condemn a man based on the evidence presented by his enemies, and not from the man himself. We would also be guilty of slander if we continue to claim that an innocent person is an ”heretic” even though he might not be. Let’s be careful so God won’t judge us one day for slander, false accusations and causing division.

Pelagianism teaches only that man can choose to do right and choose not to sin. It does not teach that a person can be holy without God or His grace. This is a lie given through the heretic Augustine. Augustine was a liar seeking to have him condemned, as he was offended by his preaching against his teachings to the people. Augustine was teaching a ”sinning religion”, and people were following it and living it. Pelagius could not stand for this heresy, so he began to teach against it. In his efforts he brought out the a man CAN choose to not sin, because he is not so spiritually dead that he could not make such a choice. Augustine turned this around with false accusations against him, misrepresenting him as if he was teaching that man could save himself. This is not what he was teaching at all. And his own writings prove it – which were not even discovered until this past century. Augustine tried to make sure of that by having them burned or destroyed, but a few slipped through the cracks. Now Augustine is exposed for the liar and gospel pervert that he is.

Calvinism began with Gnosticism – which is very clearly shown by many quotes given by the early Church. Tertullian and Hippolytus and Irenaeus all wrote extensively against the Gnostic groups, telling of the things they believed and how the Church has always disagreed with them, calling them heretics. Augustine was infested with Gnosticism, which Calvin also adopted.

Here is a quote from an article below on the Letter to Demetrius:

”The moral life of purity, for Pelagius, can only be achieved by drawing upon both ”the good of nature and the good of grace” (9:1); this will be the dominant theme of his exhortation. Pelagius’s reflections on the human person are not unlike those of the Eastern Fathers. They share the same starting point of moral reflection, that is, the innate goodness of man because God has created him in His image and likeness. Pelagius writes, ”you ought to measure the good of human nature by reference to its Creator” (2:2).”

The above quote shows the balanced thought of Pelagius teaching. His accusers only point out that he taught ”the good of nature” and the ”innate goodness of man”, and completely leave out the blanche of his teaching that tells of the ”good of grace” and ”because GOD has created him in His image and likeness”. Pelagius thought was in giving glory to God in His creation, in that men have a mind and free will to choose that has been given by the creator, which makes them able to choose to do right. Of course man has to know right and wrong first, but the ability is with him once he knows the difference.

Prior to Pelagius being ‘found’ guilty of heresy, he was cleared by two synods of bishops. These synods were provoked by Augustine’s influence. Then the council of Carthage, where Augustine was bishop, declared Pelgius a heretic. A few years later, Augustine and two others brought heresy charges against Pelagius to the bishop of Rome. Pelagius was cleared again, a third time. The bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic a few years later under pressure from Imperial Rome and not before that time. It was perceived that the effects of Pelagius’ doctrine would undermine Imperial rule and so political pressure was then applied and the bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic. Another interesting note is that Pelagius was well received and there was generally no problem with his teaching. The charges against him only arose when some one else, Caelestius, who was building on Pelagian teaching denounced infant baptism. Then and only then the problem arose. Infant baptism was under assault – if they were not born guilty and therefore did not need to be baptized to be saved then ecclesiastical power structure was going to be undermined. That kick started the whole controversy against Pelagius: they synods and councils did not occur until the implications of his teaching threatened infant baptism. See Peter Brown’s ”Augustine of Hippo” there are 3 chapters that deal with Augustine-Pelagian controversy that document everything posted.

Pelagius is often ascribed views he doesn’t have

From Jesse Morell:

Matt Slick of CARM wrote that “Pelagianism…. taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God.  In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention.”[29] This is an example, not of Pelagian heresy, but of Pelagian hearsay.

I would suspect that Matt Slick learned about Pelagianism from its opponents, and not from actually reading the writings of the Pelagians. This is a common practice for Calvinists, but what if that is how their doctrine was treated? What if someone stated what Calvinism teaches, by stating the opponents? Augustine accused Pelagius of denying the grace of God, but this was an accusation not a fact.

Had Matt Slick actually read some of the few writings that still exist today from the original Pelagians, he would have read in Julian of Eclanum’s Pelagian Statement of Faith: “We [Pelagians] maintain that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God’s grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil.”[30]

Pelagius himself said, “I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to dis-annul it deserve everlasting punishment.”[31]

Pelagius said, “This grace we do not allow to consist only in the law but also in the help of God. God helps us through His teaching and revelation by opening the eyes of our heart, by pointing out to us the future so that we may not be preoccupied with the present, by uncovering the snares of the devil, by enlightening us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.”[32]

Pelagius said, “God always aids by the help of his grace. God aids us by his doctrine and revelation, while he opens the eyes of our heart; while he shows us the future, that we may not be engrossed with the present; while he discloses the snares of the devil; while he illuminates us by the multiform and ineffable gift of heavenly grace. Does he who says this, appear to you to deny grace? Or does he appear to confess both divine grace and the freewill of man?”[33]

Pelagius said in a letter to Innocent, “Behold, before your blessedness, this epistle clears me, in which we directly and simply say, that we have entire freewill to sin and not to sin, which, in all good works, is always assisted by divine aid. Let them read the letter which we wrote to that holy man, bishop Paulinus, nearly twelve years ago, which perhaps in three hundred lines supports nothing else but the grace and aid of God, and that we can do nothing at all of good without God. Let them also read the one we wrote to that sacred virgin of Christ, Demetrias, in the east, and they will find us so praising the nature of man, as that we may always add the aid of God’s grace. Let them likewise read my recent tract which we were lately compelled to put forth on freewill, and they will see how unjustly they glory in defaming us for denial of grace, who, through nearly the whole text of that work, perfectly and entirely profess both free will and grace.”[34]

Pelagius taught that the freedom of the human will was not lost by the original sin of Adam, but that grace was necessary for man to rightly use his free will. He also taught that free will itself was a gracious gift given to us at Creation. He did not deny grace as necessary or as an aid for free will. The only grace he denied was Augustinian grace, which said that free will was lost by original sin and therefore man’s ability to obey needed to be restored by grace. However, one of the best Greek-English Lexicons, Thayer’s, defined grace as “divine influence upon the heart” which is precisely how Pelagius viewed grace in contradiction to Augustine.

It was Augustine’s view of grace that was inconsistent with free will, not Pelagius’. As Augustine said, “I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed.”[35] Pelagius affirmed both the freedom of the will and the necessity for the grace of God, while Augustine denied the freedom of the will because of His mistaken view of grace.

This is why John Wesley said, “I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’”[36] And also “Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man.”[37]

John Wesley said, “Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”[38]

On the issue of the freedom of the will, Pelagius was in perfect agreement with the Early Church while Augustine was in agreement with the heretical Gnostics:

Dr Wiggers said, “All the fathers…agreed with the Pelagians, in attributing freedom of will to man in his present state.”[39]

Episcopius said, “What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity!”[40]

Catholic councils that calvinists appeal to

There were three councils that condemned Pelagianism; the Council of Ephesus in the year 431; the Council of Carthage in the year 418; and the Council of Orange in the year 529. This is because Pelagius was not invited nor present to defend himself but his opponents and adversaries stated his doctrine for him. When Pelagius was able to defend himself, the Council of Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius orthodox. And Pope Zosimus also declared Pelagius’ orthodoxy in 417. He was always acquitted when present to clarify and defend his views. If these are our authorities to determine orthodoxy, do we accept the ones in favor of Pelagius or the ones against him?

In addition, the Council of Orange and the Council of Carthage were not ecumenical councils. They did not consist of Bishops from the entire church, which mean that the rulings of the Councils were not universally affirmed by the Eastern and Western churches.

If heresy is heresy because a council says so, or because of majority vote, Calvinism must be more heretical than Pelagianism was because there were more councils that condemned Calvinism than condemned Pelagianism. The Calvinist doctrines of predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace were condemned throughout history. Lucidus was condemned by the Council of Oral in 473, Council of Arles in 475, and Council of Orange in 529. And Gottschalk (Gotteschalcus) was condemned by the Council at Mentz in 848 and the Council of Chiersey (Quiercy) in 849. And what do Calvinists think of the Council of Constance in 1414 for John Huss, or the Council of Worms in 1521 for Martin Luther, or the Council of Trent in 1561 for the Protestants? Are these Councils not the voice of Orthodoxy as Ephesus and Carthage supposedly were?

In fact, the Council of Orange that condemned Pelagianism also condemned the doctrines of Calvinism. If the council is authoritative in the former case, it must be equally authoritative in the latter as well. But if it was mistaken in the latter case, maybe it was mistaken in the former as well. Tony Miano essential condemns his own theology by appealing to church councils and assuming their authority.

Many thanks to Lyndon Conn, Joshua Harris and Jesse Morell

Augustinus introducerade irrläror till kyrkan, såsom läran om den syndfulla naturen

Augustinus levde mellan 354-430 e.Kr och var en f.d. gnostiker. Han introducerade många falska läror till Kyrkan som ingen bland de gamla kyrkofäderna före honom lärde ut.

1. Predestinationsläran (Gud bestämmer vem som ska bli frälst/förlorad) 

2. Omöjligheten att avfalla från sin frälsning (en gång frälst, alltid frälst) 

3. Människan har ingen fri vilja (monergism) 

4. Man kan inte veta om man är frälst (eftersom även de som lever i köttet kan vara frälsta) 

5. Människan är född med en syndfull natur som får henne att synda

6. Den katolska kyrkans övergripande makt 

7. Skärselden 

8. Böner för döda 

9. Evig förbannelse för odöpta barn och vuxna 

10. Sex är syndigt även inom äktenskap eftersom det köttsliga fördärvet är ärftligt (därav munksystemet) 

11. Maria syndade aldrig, och han tillbad henne 

12. Han var även den första att påstå att Andens gåvor såsom helande, profetior, och tungotal har upphört

13. Menade att Skriften inkluderar apokryferna

14. Bokstavlig närvaro av Jesu kött i Nattvarden (Herrens måltid)

15. Nattvarden är nödvändig för frälsning

16. Salighetsförklaringar

Augustinus, som till skillnad mot Pelagius into kunde grekiska, förföljde även teologiskt oliktänkande i Katolska kyrkan. Historikern Neander sade att Augustinus lära ”innehåller grogrunden för hela systemet av despotism, intolerans och förföljelse, t o m Inkvisition.” Han är känd för att ha förföljt Bibeltroende Donatister som strävade efter att behålla renläriga kyrkor efter en apostolisk anda. Augustinus var en av fäderna till ”a-millennialism”, tolkade Bibelprofetior allegoriskt; lärde att den katolska kyrkan är Guds rike. Han var en av grundarna till läran om barndop, menade att odöpta barn är fördömda, och kallade de som var emot läran för ”otrogna” och ”förbannade”. Han upphöjde kyrkotradition före Bibeln. Han var en av de första som lärde ut att ”nephilim” inte var avkomma mellan änglar och människor som 1 Mosebok säger, utan var ättlingar till Kain.

Kalvinister påstår att läran om människans oförmåga att välja eller rata Gud är en historisk åsikt, men det stämmer inte alls. Historien visar att läran om Fri vilja var den universella åsikten i urkyrkan utan undantag de första 300-400 åren. Urkyrkan vederlade gnostikerna som trodde på totalt fördärv, predestinationslära och fatalism.

Gnostikerna, som ansåg att de var sanna kristna, hade en fatalistisk mentalitet och de trodde att människans natur var så fördärvad att hon inte hade ett fritt val mellan gott och ont, till skillnad mot vad urkyrkan trodde. Det finns troende idag som anser att människans totala fördärv är en så fundamental lära att de fördömer de som vågar sätta sig emot den, men urkyrkan ansåg att den var en irrlära. Urkyrkan menade att endast gnostiker förnekar människans fria vilja, men idag säger många olika kyrkor att endast irrlärare tror på den. Beausobre sade, ”those ancient writers, in general, say that Manichaeans denied free-will. The reason is, that the Fathers believed, and maintained, against the Manichaeans, that whatever state man is in he has the command over his own actions, and has equally power to do good or evil.”

Det fanns många andra gnostiska grupper vid tiden för urkyrkan som också förnekade människans fria vilja, såsom Marcionism som startades av Marcion. Men en av de största hoten till urkyrkan var Manichaeans som startades av Manes, en perisk filosof, som också kallades Mani. Urkyrkan debatterade grundaren för denna gnostiska grupp i Acta Archela,som också är känd för ”The Disputation with Manes”. Biskopen Archelaus representerade urkyrkan genom dess lära att Gud inte skapades oss med en fördärvad natur utan att Gud gett oss en fri vilja. Mani tog den gnostiska positionen att människan till sin natur är totalt oförmögen och fördärvad och att människan inte har fri vilja. Domarna för debatten dömde Archelaeus som vinnare och emot Mani. Urkyrkans position är beskriven på det här sättet ”All the creatures that God made, He made very good. And He gave to every individual the sense of free will, by which standard He also instituted the law of judgment” our will is constituted to choose either to sin or not to sin? And certainly whoever will, may keep the commandments. Whoever despises them and turns aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment? There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.”

Urkyrkans ledare var oroade över att de gnostiska idéerna skulle infiltrera Kyrkan. Gnostikerna lärde till exempel att köttet var syndigt i sig själv. Eftersom gnostikerna såg köttet som syndigt i sitt ämne så nekade de till att Jesus är kommen i kött, och detta är skälet att skrifterna kallar dem ”antikrist” (1 Joh. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7). Gnostisism lär att synd är kroppens ämne, och ärvs vid befruktningen, så att människan är född syndig eller med an syndfull natur. Urkyrkan å andra sidan lärde att synd är ett fritt val av människans vilja, vilket har ursprung hos människan själv. Gnostikerna lärde att människan är syndfull i sin natur, medan urkyrkan lärde att människan är syndfull av eget val. Det var om dessa gnostiska grupper som Johannes sade: ”Från oss har de gått ut, men de var inte av oss. Ty om de hade varit av oss, då hade de ju blivit kvar hos oss. Men detta skedde för att det skulle bli uppenbart, att inte alla är av oss.” (1 John 2:19)