Pelagius Revisited

Martha Ellen Stortz

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 4/1/1988

Issue: The Lure of Heresy (Vol. 8, No 2, Spring, 1988)

Perhaps the relationship between the author and the text is akin to the relationship between the heretic and the heresy. Once written, the text has a life of its own; once professed, the heresy has a life of its own. Both text and heresy leap away from their initiatory contexts, from the intentions of authors and heretics entirely. Such has been the case with Pelagianism. The synonym most commonly attached to the heresy of “works-righteousness” would have properly horrified the heretic. Not works, but baptism would have been his topic of conversation—and that conversation would have been a tough one. The background is three-fold: an examination of the world in which Pelagius moved; an articulation of the salient points of his teaching; and finally, an assessment of Pelagius’s enduring appeal.

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