PELAGIANISM. The doctrine and principles of the British monk Pelagius (fl. 400-418). He was often called Pelagius Brito to distinguish him from another Pelagius. He went from the British Isles, probably from Ireland, to Rome, where he made the acquaintance of Paulinus (353-431), Rufinus of Aquilela, and Ccelestius. In 410 he went with Cinlestius to Africa, where he met Augustine. From Africa he went alone after a few years to Palestine. Jerome was living at this time in Bethlehem. In 415 Pelagius was accused of heresy by Paulus Orosius, acting on behalf of the African Church. The matter came before a Synod at Jerusalem, with the result that it was decided to refer it to Pope Innocent I. Innocent I. died soon afterwards (A.D. 417), and was succeeded by Zosimus. Zosimus declared in favour of the orthodoxy of Pelagius, and in a circular letter to the African epis copate commanded that the charge of heresy should be abandoned. The Emperor Theodosius, however, having been induced to exert himself against Pelagins, he was condemned by African Councils in 417 and 418. In 418 Zosimus also, having reconsidered the matter, anathema tized Pelagius and Ccelestius. In 431 Pelagianism was condemned by the third General Council, the Council of Ephesus. In the first canon any one who is of Ccelestius' opinion is " entirely cast off by the Synod from all Church communion, and suspended." The fourth canon
declares : " The holy Synod gives it in charge, that all clergy who fall away, and either publicly or privately adhere to the opinions of Nestorius and Ccelestius, be deposed." Pelagius had been vigorously opposed by Augustine and Jerome. A favourite principle with Pelagius was the declaration, " I ought, theref9re I can." " In his view. Augustine's doctrine of total depravity, and of the consequent bondage of the will, cut the nerve of all human effort. He insisted, accordingly, that man is able to do all that God commands. In keeping with this, he denied original sin, holding that since obligation implies ability, the power of choosing the good exists after the Fall precisely as before it. It is apparent that these positions rest upon a theory of freedom quite different from Augustine's. Augustine believed in free dom in the ordinary actions of life, but taught that in its highest form, as the power to keep God's law, freedom is a lost gift, which only grace can •restore. By free dom Pelagius meant an equipoise of the will, which enables us at any time, whatever our previous history may have been, to choose between the evil and the good " (Prot. Diet.). Cp. further SEMI-PELAGIANISM. See J. H. Blunt; Prot. Diet.; Cath. Diet.