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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 12

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 12 [XI.]—A Portion of the Proceedings of the Synod of Palestine in the Cause of Pelagius.

“The synod said: 1941 Now, forasmuch as Pelagius has pronounced his anathema on this uncertain utterance of folly, rightly replying that a man by God’s help and grace is able to live ναμάρτητος, that is to say, without sin, let him give us his answer on other articles also. Another particular in the teaching of Cœlestius, disciple of Pelagius, selected from the heads which were mentioned and heard at Carthage before the holy Aurelius bishop of Carthage, and other bishops, was to this effect: ‘That Adam was made mortal, and that he would have died, whether he sinned or did not sin; that Adam’s sin injured himself alone, and not the human race; that the law no less than the gospel leads us to the kingdom; that before the coming of p. 240 Christ there were persons without sin; that newborn infants are in the same condition that Adam was before the transgression; that, on the one hand, the entire human race does not die on account of Adam’s death and transgression, nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise again through the resurrection of Christ; that the holy bishop Augustin wrote a book in answer to his followers in Sicily, on articles which were subjoined, and in this book, which was addressed to Hilary, are contained the following statements: That a man is able to be without sin if he wishes; that infants, even if they are unbaptized, have eternal life; that rich men, even if they are baptized, unless they renounce and give up all, have, whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned unto them, neither can they possess the kingdom of heaven.’ Pelagius then said: As regards man’s ability to be without sin, my opinion has been already spoken. With respect, however, to the allegation that there were even before the Lord’s coming persons who lived without sin, we also on our part say, that before the coming of Christ there certainly were persons who passed their lives in holiness and righteousness, according to the accounts which have been handed down to us in the Holy Scriptures. As for the other points, indeed, even on their own showing, they are not of a character which obliges me to be answerable for them; but yet, for the satisfaction of the sacred Synod, I anathematize those who either now hold or have ever held these opinions.”



Compare On the Proceedings of Pelagius, chs. 16, 23.

Next: Chapter 13

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