On this day in the year 417 AD, a monk called Pelagius was declared a heretic and excommunicated from the Church by the Pope. Pelagius’ name has ever since been tainted as one associated with theological scandal and heresy. But who was Pelagius, and what was so dangerous about his ideas? Can we learn anything from his life today?
Pelagius was a monk who lived in the third and fourth centuries after Christ, at a time when the Church was still trying to formalise much of its doctrine. Pelagius made his name by criticising the teaching of Augustine on questions of human nature, predestination and free will. He emphasised the basic goodness of humanity and humanity’s free capacity to choose and do what is right. For Pelagius, human effort played a primary role in achieving salvation, and for many like Augustine, that was a step too far.
Nothing is known about what happened to Pelagius after his excommunication, but the monk certainly made a name for himself. Here are five reasons Pelagius still matters today.
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