Augustine cont…(Pelagianism)


-Belief circulated by the Pious British Monk Pelagius

-Arose out of his distaste for the Christian church he found in Rome, where the faith seemed reduced to ritualistic practices meant for future life in heaven, with no regard for current holiness.

-From this moment in 383 he felt his mission was to bring the holiness of Monastic living into the homes of all Christianity. The monastic life of Holiness was a Christian life that could be lived in the home just as well as in a monastery or cave.

-However, this very Biblical zeal was coupled with a very real unorthodox belief in salvation and human nature

-Pelagius believed that human nature is not corrupted because of the fall, rather everyone is born as Adam was, but have willfully choose sin over godliness. He believed it was possible to live a sinless life. for him anyone could through right effort become sinless.

-He understood grace to be God’s giving man free will and the appointing of the Law as a means to attain a holy life.

-Heaven is a reward for holy living

-After the sacking of Rome he and his disciple Celestius fled to North West Africa. Here Celestius would seek ordination as a presbyter, but would be rejected by the Council of Bishops and rather than ordained he found himself condemned as a heretic.

-It is at this Point that Augustine begins to write against their false doctrines and practices. This controversy birthed some of his most well articulated and important works on the meaning of sin and salvation. (much of which would be recaptured by the Protestant reformation a 1000 years later)

-He argued that in Adam all of humanity had sinned, the fall had lead to the death of our human nature’s ability for righteousness. (thus articulating original sin)

-He will argue extensively that original sin is the need and basis for the baptism of infants to cleanse them of its affects.

-The only free will man has at birth is the freedom to sin, and seek out sin, this is our drive and desire. It is only the grace of God that can force us not too

-It is therefore only by God’s work is salvation possible. He does it all (Monergism)

-the unwilling be come willing by God’s grace and work alone

John 15:16 ESV

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

-He argued against the ability of humanity to achieve sinless perfection with the same argument she used against the Donatist

-He did though advocate though that faith and perseverance are two separate gifts  of God….

-Finding no home in Africa Pelagius moved east and set up shop in Jerusalem where he was welcomed and cleared of heresy by the Bishop in Jerusalem, against Jeromes Protestations and writings.

-in 417 a group of Pelagians attacked and killed a bishop whom disagreed with them, this spurred the other bishops and empire to act and exiled Pelagius and Celestius.

-The council of Ephesus in 431 Would declare Pelagianism as heretical, though a semi-pelagian view would quickly spring up and win the day as the primary view in the church Catholic.

The Battle for the Christ (pt 1)

Antioch vs Alexandria

-Antioch emphasized the humanity of Christ while trying to do justice to his divinity

-Alexandrians Emphasized the Deity of Christ while trying to do justice to the humanity

-Apollinarianism (Alexandrian School)

-Apollinarius Bishop in Laodicea

-First to apply the teachings on the trinity to Christ

-Formulated that the logos assumed the Spirit of Jesus Humanity (Thus denying the full humanity of Christ)

-Stated that it is within the Spirit of man that Sinned dwelt, and therefore Christ could not have a human spirit without having sin

-This was birthed out a deep seated desire to defend the Deity of Christ from Arians

-He sincerely believed he was following in the teachings of Athnassius

-His teachings were condemned at Constantinople in 381

-Nestorianism (Antiochene School)

-Proposed by the Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius

-Theotokos (bearer of God) vs Christotokos (Bearer of Christ)

-Jesus the Christ “two persons with two natures

-For Him The individual natures of Christ must exist within the individual sons (Divine & Human)

-Cyril of Alexandria influences the Emperor to call the Council to reject these teachings

Council of Ephesus (431)

Called to Settle the issue of the unity of the divinity & Humanity of Christ (Also declared Pelagianism Heretical)

-Main supports of Nestorianism are delayed a few weeks in arriving so the  council begins without them. (JOHN OF ANTIOCH)

-Cyril prevails and Nestorianism is declared heretical (It though in the coming generation would find a home as the Christology of the Persian church and travel as far as China)

-John of Antioch calls his own council and declares Nestorius’s teaching  true and declare Cyril a heretic.

-The emperor would finally intervene and arresting both bishops (John & Cyril) and  forcing them to deal with their issues.

-The reach a truce in which the original council’s decision is  upheld and a new “Formula of Union” is written to explain the  unity of Christ in 433 (2 natures &1 Person)

The Controversies continue:


-Succeeded Cyril as Bishop in Alexandria in 444

-Did not accept the theological teachings and compromise brought out of Ephesus.

-Sought out to start a fight with the churches that taught the truth of Nicaea and Ephesus

-Brought Eutychiansim to the forefront as a challenge against the teachings of Jesus  Christ existing as 1 person with 2 natures.

-Eutychianism (Alexandrian Thought)

Taught by a monastic monk & Presbyter in Constantinople name Eutyches

-While a presbyter spent most his time training new monks & writing

-Kept to himself and never saw to propagate his theology

-Believed that the Divine nature of Christ absorbed all that was human in Jesus. (thus  there is only one nature and one person: also called Monophysitism)

-Favored the idea of unity over distinction

-Still similar to Docetism

-Condemned as heresy in Constantinople by a regional synod in 448 led by Dioscorus as  a political move not theological one, to set up his eventual succession to leading the next  council meeting in Ephesus.

Theodort of Cyrus

The Three Dialogues written against Eutychiansim in 447

-Calling it a Beggars Basket of Heresy (Blending Docetism, Gnosticism, Apollinarianism, and others)

-HE takes part in the synod of Constantinople relieving Eutyches of his position.

-Writes to Leo of Rome for Support. Leo sides with him and Flavian.

Robber Synod (Ephesus II 449)

Called by Theodosius II to bring an end to the battle over the person or Jesus Christ

-135 Bishops attend, It is led by Dioscorus, and his mob of Monks.

-Calls for the restoration of Eutyches and the excommunication of all who would oppose  it. (i.e. Flavian of Constantinople, Theodort of Cyrus, & Leo of Rome.)

-Flavian attempts to read a letter by Leo rejecting the teachings of Eutyches, but is  severally beaten instead. (would die a few days later)

-Dioscorus would appoint Anatolis to succeed Flavian as Bishop.

-Would later become a staunch opponent.

-The actions of the council receive full support of the Emperor

-Leo of Rome would fight against this ruling even calling his own council to meet  in the west in defiance of Theodosius II.

-Leo would gain political and religious power as Rome itself fell and he  helped to fill the vacuum

-Theodosius Dies falling from his horse on July 28, 450 changing the  course of history.

The Council of Chalcedon (451)

-Theodosius was succeeded by his Sister Pulcheria and her husband Marcian.

-They begin to reverse all the decisions that happened at Ephesus including calling a new  council in 451.

-Leo’s tome is circulated among the bishops prior to the meeting.

-Leo finds a reason to avoid going. (since it was not being held in the west)

-Dioscorsus order to attend. He declares Leo a heretic on the way,

-500 Bishops Attend

-Most of the bishops who partook in the Robbers Synod, repent as the acts of the last  council are read. Thus abandoning Dioscorus. He would be exiled to the desert  immediately.

-They would discuss together and write a definition to describe the person of Christ,  known now as the Chalcedon Definition. (not a new creed, but an explanation of Nicaea)

“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”

(Underlined: Antiochene, Bold: Alexandrian)

-This council would eventually lead to the 1st of many schisms within the church.

-Nestorian (Antiochene) Christians flourishing in the new Persian empire (Today they are called Chaldean or Assyrian Christian Churches)

-Monophyites (Extreme Alexandrines) thriving in Egypt and Syria (Coptic Church)

So why does it matter what were they fighting for……..Well in the end even for them it was about salvation:

-The Antiochene schools focused on a moral ethical application of Salvation. Christ humanity was not passive in it’s submission.he was  in all aspects human and obeyed the Father as such

-The Alexandrian School had a much more metaphysical approach.  In Christ there is such a transformation that humanity can come in contact with the divine and be utterly transformed by it.


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