The life of Grace and the Pelagian Controversy

Overview

In the fifth century, Pelagius sought to inspire moral reform among Christians. He began preaching a stoicized Christianity, in which one's freely-willed attainment of a habitual moral perfection would gain divine favor and, with it, admission to heaven. The gracious gifts by which God had made this possible were His commands and His example. On the other hand, Augustine of Hippo saw Pelagius as abandoning apostolic tradition by removing God from Christian life. Augustine argued that the path to heaven was not mere imitation of God's commands. Rather, a participation in the life of the Trinity, impossible apart from divine aid, was the God-given grace that defined Christian life and related this world to the next.

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Jordan Wales is assistant professor of theology at Hillsdale College. He received his B.S. from Swarthmore College, his M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh, a postgraduate diploma in theology from Linacre College at Oxford University, and his M.T.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.