Pelagius still a heretic: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011 November 19, 2011Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Atlanta, Pelagius
Pelagius could not muster enough votes last week at the Diocese of Atlanta’s annual meeting of synod to overturn his condemnation by the Council of Carthage. For now, he remains a heretic.
On 4 Nov 2011 delegates to the diocesan convention were asked to reverse the condemnation of Pelagius, and to explore whether the Fifth century heretic’s brand of “Celtic” Christianity may inform the theology of the Episcopal Church.
The motion submitted by the Rev. Benno D. Pattison, Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta stated in part:
“Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition;”
“And whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans, Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition.”
A British monk, Pelagius rejected the doctrines of original sin, substitutionary atonement, and justification by faith. Mankind possessed an unconditioned free will and was able to obtain his own salvation through personal betterment rather than grace, he argued. The Council of Carthage in 416 condemned Pelagius’ teaching.
When the motion was brought forward for debate, amendments were offered from the floor that softened its language. The language calling for the Diocese to “honor” his contributions and “reclaim his voice” was changed to “understand” his voice.
However, the amendments were insufficient to satisfy critics of the proposal and the motion went down to defeat.