Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 260: Absolution of Pelagius; Condemnation of Pelagianism
Absolution of Pelagius; Condemnation of Pelagianism
At the diocesan council of 415 Pelagius was supported by John of Jerusalem without adversaries. Pelagius had defended himself by claiming he was united in friendship with a large number of believers.1 He produced numerous letters of praise from various bishops,2 among them a letter from Augustine.3 The council read parts of these letters. Augustine’s letter serves to show one could be friendly with Pelagius and write him civilly without approving his opinions.4 Others may have known Pelagius only by the good they saw in him and not by knowledge of his heresy.
The memorandum of Heros and Lazarus was read.5 The doctrinal propositions of which Pelagius was accused were found there. Pelagius confessed some were his but his accusers had misinterpreted them; he claimed to have understood them in an orthodox sense. Others he disavowed, rejected as folly, and even anathematized those holding them. Caelestius’ teaching, alleged and condemned by the Council of Carthage (411) and by Augustine, was not his concern.6 He anathematized those maintaining it now or who had held it in the past. Pelagius either disavowed his own belief by perjury or reserved explanation through devious and shameless means unworthy of Christian sincerity.7
Pelagius freed himself from some objections by silence, others by multifarious obfuscation, and still others by apparent sophisms which blinded rather than clarified.8 He disavowed some propositions and changed a number of others as it pleased...