Today is the day that I have been looking forward to, in regard to the heretics of the early church. We are now at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century with the one heresy which still remains largely unchecked in churches today. Pelagianism. Most of the previous heretics were struggling with understanding the nature of God, Christ, or the Gospel. Pelagius takes the cake for being the greatest man centered threat to the church. He was born in Britain, which was conquered by Rome in the 1st century, in 360 AD and died in 418 AD. Here’s a little fun trivia for you, dear ones, the roads Rome built in Britain are still the roads used today and arches from the time period can still be seen standing the test of time.
Pelagius taught in Rome, where his heretical views were first considered orthodox at the council of Lod, then condemned by the councils of Carthage and Ephesus. These heretical views start with the denial of original sin. He suggested that all of mankind was not affected by Adams fall, only Adam himself was hurt by that. Thus, each individual is born good, and can choose to stay that way, through free will. To Pelagius Gods grace was just a helpful mechanism to aid pure and moral people to come to Him. This is a rejection of several key texts in Scripture, in particular Romans 5:12 where Paul specifically explains that we all fell through Adam. This heresy also makes the news for Christ crucified a moot point. If we can make it by our own free will, which contrary to Scripture, Pelagius taught was not in bondage to sin, then we do not need a Savior or forgiveness of sins.
The individual who stands out historically for opposing Pelagius is Augustine of Hippo. Augustine was born an African Roman in 354 AD. Largely credited for influencing the Reformers, Augustine opposed Pelagius and taught that man was fallen in Adam and needed Gods grace for salvation and for any good works. Augustine participated in the council of Carthage that declared Pelagius a heretic, alongside over 200 bishops. A lot could be said about Augustine, and his contributions to the church. I’d love to do an entire blog just about him, and perhaps will tell the story of his conversion in the podcast. However, for the purpose of today’s post, this is as far as I’ll take it.
Pelagius taught that man was born good, and as I mentioned before, that’s a belief strongly held today. Many, professing believers or lost, proclaim their own goodness. Few today believe that God is sovereign, and that it is only by His grace that we are able to come to Him. Many are teaching the heretical view of Pelagianism without even having heard of Pelagius. There is nothing new under the sun, for the love of self we hide the truth of Scripture, desiring the approval of man rather than the salvation of the lost. It is as popular today as it was in 4th and 5th century Rome to teach the wickedness of the heart of man. We don’t need to point to cults for today’s heresy, it’s found in the churches throughout the West. Many claim to love Gods Word, and obey it, yet likewise stand with Andy Stanley in bald faced defiance of Scripture. The truth is that the heart is deceitful above all other members, who can know it? None are righteous, no not one. No one seeks after God. And yes, even our righteousness is as filthy rags.
Unless we repent of our sins and put our faith in Christ Jesus alone for salvation we will die in our sins and receive just punishment. Dear ones, we must stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God, proclaiming the truth that saves souls! No sugar coating, or watering down, will change the opinions of a fallen world. They hated our master, they will hate us as well. Therefor, give no ground to the enemy, and reject pragmatism at all cost! As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.