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Christianity / Orientations / Heresy /
Also called: Pelagian Heresy

In Christianity, a sectarian doctrine (see heresy) belonging to the 5th century, formulated in opposition to the concept of the Original Sin (defined by Augustine).
A central part of Christian teaching until then, and after, was that true sinlessness was only to be achieved through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Pelagianism claimed that the concept of redemption made many Christians fall into moral laxity, into a life of immorality and promiscuity; one could simply take refuge in redemption.
Pelagianism promoted the idea that man had the ability to avoid sinning, thereby that he was able to redeem himself. Not only that, every human was individually responsible for his own personal salvation.
The founder, Pelagius, opposed the doctrine that sin was a product of unavoidable human weakness, insisting on freedom to choose between good and evil. Celestius, his disciple, expressively rejected Original Sin and the necessity of infant Baptism.
Pelagianism defined Adam as the bad example of human choice between good and evil, while Jesus was the good example, a the guidance for all mankind. It is often stated that Pelagianism declared Jesus' crucifixion as an empty act, without redemptive quality, but this is a statement that may well have been put into Pelagianism by its opponents. But Pelagianism appear at least to have rejected that Jesus' death involves any redemption of sin and that every human being is responsible of all his acts.

Early 5th century: Pelagius begins teaching about the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will.
— Augustine speaks out against the teachings of Pelagius.
416: Pelagius is condemned by a council of African bishops convened at Carthage.
418: The condemnation of Pelagianism is affirmed by a new council at Carthage, and both Pelagius and Celestius are excommunicated.
420's: Julian of Eclanum continues to teach Pelagianism, as well as conducting a debate by letter with Augustine over theological questions.
431: The Council of Ephesus confirms the decisions from the councils in Carthage.

By Tore Kjeilen