The Reception of Pelagianism in Contemporary Scholarship

Summary: I. Rejection of Original Sin. II. Unrestricted Freedom. III. Sexuality.
IV. Soteriology in the Theological Disputes of the Fourth Century. V. Soteriology
in the Christological Disputes of the Fourth Century. VI. Soteriology in the
Anthropological Disputes of the Fifth Century. VII. Conclusion.

Over the past 75 years, many modern scholars have argued for a “recovery” of
Pelagian thought. This paper investigates why this trend has become so fashionable.
By comparing three issues—the rejection of original sin, the belief in the
unrestricted free will, and sexuality—this paper intends to show that Pelagian
anthropology is closer to the contemporary modes of thinking about the human
person than Augustinian thought. The paper continues to show that the
conclusions of the two other most important theological controversies in the
first 500 years of Christianity (Trinitarian and Christological) were ultimately
settled because of their soteriological implications. In conclusion, I argue that
any recovery of Pelagian thought is flawed because, although the Pelagian anthropological
similarities with the current thinking are clear, Pelagianism fails to meet
the Church’s soteriological test.