"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « A Good Will Comes from God - Augustine | Main | Destroy them? »

    That Creeping Temptation in the Church to be Semi-Pelagian

    "Sinners cannot obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart." - J.I. Packer

    "The saving power of the cross does not depend on faith being addded to it; its saving power is such that faith flows from it" - J.I. Packer.

    Semi-Pelagianism was officially condemned as a heresy by the Synod of Orange in 529. Afterwards, due to human corruption, certain aspects of Semi-Pelagianism were still incorporated into the theological doctrines of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, such as a rejection of the bondage of the will and the concept that humans could (with God's help) redeem themselves and maintain their just standing before God through repentance and penance. Pope Gregory the Great even said, "The good that we do is both of God and of ourselves; of God by prevenient grace, our own by good will following." Rome, to this day, by continuing to affirm the semi-pelagian view that redeemed humanity must (through good works) maintain its own just standing before God, in essence declares that Jesus' work on the cross is insufficient to save completely ...that men are justified partly by the grace of God in Christ and partly by their own works. So in RCC dogma, Jesus ends up, not as a Savior, but one who helps us save ourselves.

    With regard to God's initial grace to sinners, St. Augustine rightly affirms that grace is what makes the will good, "For", he says, "if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone." In other words, that even the very desire of fallen humanity to believe and obey Christ is wrought in us by the Spirit, and that it is Jesus alone (not the human will) that makes those who believe differ from those who do not. The RCC view, on the contrary, declares that the unregenerate human will has still some power left to choose good ... to either cooperate with or reject God's grace. By contrast again, The Council of Orange (529 AD) affirms the augustinian/Reformation view that it is the Holy Spirit within us that we [even] have the faith, the will, the strength or the desire to do all these things as we ought (Canon 6).

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    Posted by John on April 27, 2009 05:55 PM


    Great quotes and post. Thanks so much. Well said.

    You correctly write
    "Rome, to this day, by continuing to affirm the semi-pelagian view that redeemed humanity must (through good works) MAINTAIN its own just standing before God, in essence declares that Jesus' work on the cross is insufficient to save completely"

    But I find that many famous evangelical protestant churches, taking a stand against semi-pelagianism, nevertheless fall straight into the semi-galatianisation that you mention.

    They take their lead from some erroneous Puritan teaching. Even Calvin was not free from such moralism. Mercifully, though, Martin Luther saw this danger clearly, though his voice is now virtually lost to us.

    While we fight pelagianism, moralistic galatianisation eats away at our soul. Moralistic churches baldly declare that, as a christian by the new birth, I now do not want to sin. The implication is that if I do find myself wanting to sin, I should try harder not to want that; that I should berate my soul, essentially that I should repress my own self.

    But their view suggests we have already been glorified. We have not. We are "simul justus simul peccator" (both justified and still sinners). If we deny that we still want to sin, we will no longer return to the Cross. Instead we will "thank God that I am not like that sinner" (Luke 18)

    Am I suggesting we accept sin? No, but the antidote to sin is not a christianised self-help legalism/moralism (which the non-christian unsurprisingly finds so abhorrent in us); it is to draw close to Jesus, daily, hourly, incessantly.

    We are justified by faith (i.e by grace through faith). We are also sanctified by faith, not by good deeds.

    Can we hear more about the creeping and dangerous galatianisation of the evangelical church.


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