Is "Arminian" Theology really Semi-Pelagian?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    A simple definition to start the debate.

    Pelagian theology believes man receives God grace via works, rituals, rites of the church, et al. There is meritorious benefit in works.

    Semi-Pelagian as related to salvation deals with this same meritorious benefit of works, but in relationship to security (or keeping our salvation).

    Most modern Wesleyan or Arminian theologians will argue that they are certainly not Pelagian or even "semi" Pelagian.

    Floor is open for discussion.
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    I think I might define the terms a little more specifically.

    PELAGIANISM: The theology of Pelagius sees man as very self-sufficient. Adam's sin harmed him and NOT humanity. Men have free will and BY THEMSELVES can attain a level of perfection necessary for salvation. Grace is given to those who merit it - and as such grace is not really necessary for salvation.


    SEMI PELAGIANISM: This position asserts that Christ died for all and thus His grace is available to all. Unlike Pelagianism this position very much sees man as unable to properly affect his own salvation - he must accept Christ's offer. Importantly here MAN takes the first step.

    Pelagius lived in the 5th century AD during a time when the prevailing views of believers were essentially semi-pelagian.

    The "semipelagian" position proper was articulated in the form of Cassianism, Molinismin, and to a certain extent Arminianism in response to the bold assertions of the Reformers.

    I find both "Arminianism" and Roman Catholicism to be outwardly "semipelagian" when compared to supralapsarian calvinism. Consider however that there was no man named "Semipelagius". And the term "semipelagian" is often used in a pejorative sense. Thus most knowledgeable Catholics and Wesleyans object to simply being called semipelagian. Molina and Ott rejected the idea that man ALONE takes the first step in initiating salvation - rather they argue that man's will and God's enabling grace act cooperatively.

    As such neither catholicism nor "Arminianism" truly conforms to the "semipelagianism" against which the reformers inveighed - but they are similar in allowing man's free will.
     
  3. Craigbythesea

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    No.
     
  4. Craigbythesea

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    H. Orton Wiley, an Arminian theologian and the author of Christian Theology, writes in Volume II of that work,

    If Arminian theology is Semi-Pelagian, most Baptists are also Semi-Pelagian because most Baptists share both Arminian and Calvinistic views.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    My understanding of Arminius' position is that, initially at least, he rejected merely Beza's supralapsarianism ie: hyper-Calvinism. Therefore classical Arminianism is arguably only one step removed from Calvinism, and therefore not semi-Pelagian.

    I think the real issue is where the 'weight' lies re salvation - is it primarily or totally a sovereign work of God or does it involve at least a conscious, free response from man?

    As a slight tangent, I would class RCs as at least semi-Pelagian since, despite their theoretical adherence to Augustine, they rely in practice upon to an extent a works-based salvation, albeit they regard their sacraments as the most important 'works'. Their Scriptural justification here would appear to be James 2:14ff. I'd be interested in your exegetical and other comments on that passage in the light of the OP, since I'm preaching on that text on August 8th

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     

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