Pelagianism vs. Semi-pelagianism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by npetreley, May 17, 2006.

  1. npetreley

    npetreley
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    Pelagianism

    From http://www.carm.org/heresy/pelagianism.htm

    Semi-pelagianism

    From http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9066710

    The wikipedia defines semi-pelagianism this way, which I think is a bit more clear with respect to the role (or lack thereof) of grace in salvation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Pelagianism

    It seems to me that the only significant difference between pelagianism and semi-pelagianism is that the semi-pelagians say that the fall had an adverse affect on mankind. But the issue here isn't salvation. It's whether or not man has the innate ability to obey God's commands (the law).

    Beyond that, the actual soteriology seems to be exactly the same. In both cases, man can still take the initiative toward choosing salvation of his own free will, unassisted by God. Or am I missing something?
     
  2. J.D.

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    Right, in fact this is what the dorters basically said about semi-pelagianism. If I had time I would quote them. Maybe later.

    Side note on Wikipedia: One of the greatest inventions of our time.
     
  3. npetreley

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    So why is pelagianism considered heresy, but semi-pelagianism is not only considered doctrinal truth but seems to be the predominant view of today? Is the only heretical part of pelagianism the assertion that man can obey God's commands of their own free will?

    If so, how can one say that man has fallen enough that he cannot obey God's commands and then say in the same breath that man can, of his own free will, obey God's command to believe on Jesus? In other words, at least with respect to soteriology, isn't semi-pelagianism really pelagianism?

    These are serious questions, not trolls. I'm genuinely trying to understand why pelagianism is considered heresy, but semi-pelagianism is not considered heresy, and especially why it seems to have become the most widely accepted and predominant view of soteriology. If there's a rational explanation as to why they differ enough for one to be heretical and the other not, I'd like to know what it is.
     
  4. Sularis

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    Because too often you and others misunderstand people who claim we need to make a choice as being pelaginists or semis - when in fact they are not -

    Semis - believe that man can begin or initiate the process of salvation

    I and others who believe in the choice/responsibility of man do not believe that man can initiate the process at all. In fact without the regenerative call of God man is doomed to Hell. God calls granting man the ability to choose - man then chooses - if man makes wrong choice - God may or may not call that person again.

    That is the difference mankind is incapable on his own and God initiates.
     
  5. Scott J

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    npet, I think I used that argument recently.

    I believe man is every bit as capable of obeying the whole law as they are of accepting Christ at their own initiative. While there is nothing in the faculties of their mind or body to prevent it, it is against their spiritual nature meaning they never will so choose of their own initiative.
     
  6. Scott J

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    I have considered that position Sularis. That men are passive in respect to accepting but active in respect to rejection.

    A couple of problems. First, God purposes to do something but just can't quite close the deal. Second, it still leaves salvation dependent on the goodness of men. Third, It truly would make God "unfair" by not offering the exact same opportunity to all.

    Before you object to the last point, I contend that none are deserving but that God grants a new spirit to some thus changing their nature in a way that makes faith the only thing consistent with their nature. You leave man in charge of his own destiny... somehow deserving of the opportunity to choose... but not all men, only some.
     
  7. Brandon C. Jones

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    I would clarify one thing from the OP. There is a stark difference in the soteriology of a pelagist and a semi-pelagist. Just look at the atonement and what it is for. For the Pelgian, Christ merely set a good example for us to follow, but man is capable of following it too independent of His work on the cross. That would be one main reason why it has been considered heresy while semi-pelagianism has not.

    For more on this I recommend Brown's biography of Augustine which deals with the Pelagian controversy. There is also the LCC editions of Augustine's writings and his later writings would cover these issues. Furthermore, one could study the Council of Orange which deals with this. For more on that see Leith's "Creeds of the Churches," or better yet the great edition "theological anthropology" from sources of early christian thought rusch, ed. that has fresh translations of the historical documents regarding all of this.

    this should be an enlightening study.
    BJ
     
  8. npetreley

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    I don't agree with your soteriology, but that is entirely beside the point. You are speaking for others out of turn. There are many people here and filling the seats of churches who state plainly that they believe we choose Christ of our own free will without a prior work of God, whether you want to call it a regenerative call or anything else. The point is that they are saying we do it entirely of our own free will, without any assistance from God whatsoever. In fact, many go out of their way to impress upon their listeners that God refuses to impose Himself on our will in any way (the perfect gentleman argument).
     
  9. webdog

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    I haven't seen them on here, the "baptist only" forums, maybe on the "other Chrisitns" forum, but not here.
     
  10. Andy T.

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    I haven't seen them on here, the "baptist only" forums, maybe on the "other Chrisitns" forum, but not here. </font>[/QUOTE]Webdog, in a recent thread we were discussing Eph. 2:8-9 and you said that God's grace was in the actual sending of His Son and that faith was our part. I gathered from your statement that God does not provide any grace to the hearer of the Gospel. I asked for you to clarify, but you never responded (I understand - it's hard to keep up with everything).

    So I'll ask again, is God's grace only in His act of sending Jesus, or does He also give grace to the hearer that they may respond in faith?
     
  11. webdog

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    God's grace is the fact that He doesn't send everyone to hell, as man deserves.
     
  12. Andy T.

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    I agree, but when someone puts his faith in Christ, does God impart any grace to hearer to enable him to believe, or does the person's faith come completely from his own strength?
     
  13. webdog

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    Faith comes by hearing (understanding), and that from the Word of God. Without being drawn by the Holy Spirit, we wouldn't have faith in Christ.
     
  14. Scott J

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    What of the person who understands but does not respond positively? According to you (I think), people can be drawn by the Holy Spirit and still say no... why don't they have faith?
     
  15. Andy T.

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    O.k., so I assume by being drawn that means to enable. I was just trying to get at the difference between the Semi-P view and Arminian view. The Arminian view says that God must enable a sinner in order to believe (but that sinner can also reject such grace). The Semi-P says that such grace is not needed at all - that a person's faith comes completely from their own good will.
     
  16. Scott J

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    Is that the Arminian view?
     
  17. webdog

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    What of the person who understands but does not respond positively? According to you (I think), people can be drawn by the Holy Spirit and still say no... why don't they have faith? </font>[/QUOTE]How can we know for certain what goes through another person's head? Many are called but few are chosen.
     
  18. Scott J

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    Scripture tells us why. The natural man will not receive the things of the Spirit.
     
  19. webdog

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    If you are quoting 1 Corinthians, where Paul is speaking to believers, this is in reference to both natures: sin and new. The "natural" nature cannot know the things of God. This is not talking about why someone has faith, and why someone does not.

    1Co 3:1 Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.

    How can Paul be referring "brothers a.k.a. believers as "people of the flesh"? Because they were living by their "natural man" and not the "new man" from v. 12.
     
  20. Scott J

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    Yes it is. And it is not talking about the dual nature of Christians either. Verse 12 provides the context for that truth.

    Nope. Paul follows verse one by saying that he gave them milk... They had the Spirit and they had spiritual understanding but it was not mature.

    That is not the same thing as being devoid of the spirit.

    But let's give you the benefit of the doubt. What about the unsaved man? He has none of the Spirit of God. He is in complete subjection to the natural man. In that state, he "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

    So even if you are right and the passage is relating to immature Christians... what is partially true of an immature Christian is fully true of the lost.
     

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