Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 249: De natura et gratia
De natura et gratia
Up to this point Augustine had known of Pelagius’ teaching only through report and rumor.1 Such knowledge can often be uncertain. After he had read Pelagius De natura however Augustine recognized without further ado how dangerous and opposed to salvation his teaching was.2 Pelagius could no longer say he maintained the necessity of grace in his heart but could not express his opinion properly in writing.3 If it was universally objected to him concerning this article of faith and he was forced to respond, Pelagius would have had to confess his true belief. Augustine was persuaded of his error by this work just as others were persuaded by his discourses.4
Augustine believed himself obliged to respond as he had been requested.5 Toward that purpose he composed a large work against Pelagius’ heresy.6 There Augustine uses the term heresy in regard to Pelagius for the first time. He addressed the work to Timasius and James to remove from their hearts the remnants of Pelagius’ heresy.7 Augustine did not mention Pelagius by name lest by offending him he become intractable.8 He could no longer spare Pelagius’ teaching in his writings but he hoped sparing his name and giving him this mark of friendship would render useful what he had written against his error.9 Augustine was irritated when his wish to avoid causing pain and insult through moderation only served to increase Pelagius’ pride.10 Augustine excused himself to Pelagius by saying...