Semi-Pelagianism is a Christian theological understanding about salvation; that is, how humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. The Semi-Pelagian teaching is derived from the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (see below), and teaches that it is necessary for humans to make the first step toward God and then God will complete salvation.


Pelagianism is the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit. According to semi-Pelagianism, man doesn’t have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then completes the salvation process. This teaching is distinct from the traditional patristic doctrine of "synergeia", that the process of salvation is cooperation between God and man from start to finish.

Development of the term

The word appears to have been coined between 1590 and 1600 in connexion with Luis Molina's doctrine of grace, in which the opponents of this theologian believed they saw a close resemblance to the heresy of the monks of Marseille (cf. "Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques", 1907, pp. 506 sqq.). After this confusion had been deemed an error, the term Semipelagianism was retained in learned circles as a designation for the heresy advocated by monks of Southern Gaul at and around Marseille after 428. It aimed at a compromise between the two extremes of Pelagianism and Augustinism, and was condemned as heresy at the local Councils of Orange in 529 after disputes extending over more than a hundred years; the term "Semipelagianism" itself was unknown in antiquity.

In more recent times, the word has been used in the Reformed Protestant camp to designate anyone who deviates from the Augustinian or Calvinist doctrines of sin and grace, most notably Arminians. Many Arminians disagree with this generalization and believe it is libelous to Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley, and the many other Arminians who maintain original sin and the total depravity of the human race.

ee also

* Christian heresy
* Decision theology
* Charles Finney

External links

* [ Elwell Evangelical Dictionary Definition of Semi-Pelagianism]
* [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Semipelagianism]

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