Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 275: Pelagius, Innocent, and Zosimus
Pelagius, Innocent, and Zosimus
After Zosimus had written his letter to the African bishops in behalf of Caelestius he received a letter from Prayle bishop of Jerusalem heartily endorsing Pelagius’ cause.1 Zosimus also received a letter from Pelagius justifying the heresy of which he was accused.2 The letter contained a profession of faith wherein Pelagius claimed to declare what he sincerely believed and what he condemned. Pelagius addressed his letter and profession of faith to Innocent before he knew of this pope’s death. Since Zosimus found himself in Innocent’s seat, the letter and profession were remanded to him.
Pelagius’ letter is not extant. However through Augustine’s citations it can be seen how Pelagius responded to the pope concerning his enemies’ accusations, in particular of refusing to baptize children and of promising that these children belong to the kingdom of heaven without Christ’s redemption.3 He disavowed teachings which no one had actually alleged. Pelagius added no one would be so impious as to refuse to children the redemption common to the entire human race. No one would refuse those born into an uncertain temporal life rebirth into a certain eternal life. As is evident, these words could harmonize with original sin, but he accommodated them to his heresy.
Further he thought he was falsely accused of denying the help of grace to avoid sin.4 He complained of his accusers and protested he recognized the human being is constantly assisted by God’s...