Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Article 255: Closing of the Conference
Closing of the Conference
In the Council of Diospolis of December, 415, John of Jerusalem was asked what had occurred in the conference of Jerusalem in July. Inter alia he reported Pelagius was forcefully pressed to ascertain whether his doctrine was heterodox.1 He said man by his own free will could be sinless in this life.
When he [Pelagius] was questioned on that statement he responded he had not said man could naturally be sinless. Rather if one wished to work toward his own salvation, to combat and avoid sin, and to walk in God’s commandments, this power comes from God. Then as some murmured among themselves and said Pelagius claimed this sinless state could occur without God’s grace Pelagius continued: “I denied this idea and alleged various scriptural passages to show it was necessary to relate our good deeds to God’s grace not our own powers.” As these passages did not satisfy them and the rumors continued, Pelagius said: “This is what I believe: Anathema on whoever says that without God’s help man can advance or render himself perfect in virtue.”2
Orosius recognized Pelagius had said it is not without divine help that man can be sinless.3 John had added: if he had said sinlessness could occur without God’s help, it would definitely have been heterodox and would have caused his condemnation. Had Augustine been at this assembly, he would have pressed Pelagius to explain what he understood...