The Palagian Controversy [Reformed Theology]

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REFORMED THEOLOGY

  • Introduction
    • Reformed Theology is a type of Christian Theology
    • Difference b/t Theology and Religion (R.C. Sproul)
    • Theology is the study of God…a belief system based on God
    • Religion is the study of human behavior…how man reacts to supernatural
    • Reform Theology is a type of theology (belief system of God) in Christianity…
  • Liberalism, Catholic, Process, Dispensational, Lutheran, Evangelical, Pentecostal are also theologies
    • This course will focus on the concepts of Reformed Theology resulting from the
  • Reformation…but first a little history
  • Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)
    • Converted to Christianity in Summer of 386 in Milan, Italy
    • Moved to North Africa…Bishop of Hippo in 395 (Hippo is modern day Annaba, Algeria; NE of Niger)
    • Augustine died while the Vandals sieged the city in 430
    • Hippo was “hotbed of the early Church” because of Augustine
    • Considered to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace
  • Pelagius (No reliable birth and death dates)
    • British Theologian
    • Active in Rome 390-410
    • Moral Reformer
    • Theologically: In Direct conflict with Augustine
  • Pelagian Controversy (Concerning Man’s Free Will)
    • Three parts: 1.) Human nature 2.) Sin 3.) Grace
    • Debate developed through 4 parts
  • 1. Freedom of Will
  • 2. What is Sin
  • 3. What is Grace
  • 4. Grounds of Justification
  • Freedom of Will
    • Augustine
    • Man’s will incapacitated by sin 2. Grace only cure 3.Man is biased to evil b/c of sin
    • Pelagius
    • Man has total free will (libertarian) 2. Sin did not distort free will 3. Perfection possible (God would NOT demand anything man could not do)
  • Sin
    • Augustine
  • 1.The fall universally affected mankind
  • 2. Man cannot diagnose or cure the problem
  • 3. Grace only cure
  • 4. We “inherit” sinful nature/natural disposition to sin…emphasis on justification (Roman empire)
    • Pelagius
      • Man capable of completing obligations (works) to God and man (moral authoritarianism)
      • Man born sinless (similar to Islam…Adam’s sin has no effect on me)
  • Grace 
    • Augustine
      • Grace is God’s unmerited favor to man by which healing begins 2. Human nature is weak, frail, lost (without hope…Isaiah 6)
      • Based on John 15:5> “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
    • Pelagius
      • Human will is not compromised 2. Man has power in self (reason and will) to be sinless
      • Grace is external enlightenment to man by God: i.e. 10 Commandments, Life of Christ…knowledge of these allow us to be sinful. NOT SUPERNATURAL
    • Crucial difference between Augustine and Pelagius
  • Augustine: Grace is real redeeming presence of God in us …transforming us
  • Pelagius: Grace is external and Passive, no power, just an example (10 Commandments, etc.)
  • Basis of Salvation (Grounds of Justification)
    • Augustine
      • We are justified by act of grace (Christ’s work on the cross)
      • Our good works are an act of God’s grace…not us
      • Salvation is a free gift
        • *Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God can deal with fallen man in this generous way. God gives us what we do not deserve (Salvation) and with holds condemnation because Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the cross! [Romans 8:1, 2 Cor. 5:21]
    • Pelagius
      • Man is justified on the basis of works due to the total autonomous free will to fulfill God’s Obligation
      • Failure to meet this obligation opens one to the threat of eternal punishment.
      • Jesus’ role is only through his example and teaching…nothing supernatural
        • Man is totally equipped to “meet his obligation” (Adam’s sin has not bearing on us).
        • We are capable and not “without hope” as Isaiah 6 says. Man’s eternity is in his own hands!
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