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“The Canons of the Council of Carthage (417 or 418) on sin and grace - the original Latin text with English Translation”

directed against the views of Pelagius and Celestius

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Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.

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Relevant books
at Amazon
(Click on pictures or links.)

Augustine
(tr. J.A. Mourant and W.J. Collinge)

Four Anti-Pelagian Writings (Fathers of the Church)

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Gerald Bonner

Church and Faith in the Patristic Tradition: Augustine, Pelagianism, and Early Christian Northumbria (Collected Studies Series, 521)

See particularly chapters

"Pelagianism and Augustine"

"Augustine and Pelagianism"

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Peter Brown

Religion and Society in the Age of St. Augustine

See the chapter
"Pelagius and His Supporters: Aims and Environment"

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Theodore De Bruyn

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J. Patout Burns

The development of Augustine's doctrine of operative grace

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Robert Dodaro
Augustine and his Critics

(See chapter See the chapter by James Wetzel: Snares of Truth: Augustine on Free will and Predestination.)

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John Ferguson

Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study

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B.R. Rees

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B.R. Rees

Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic

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James Wetzel
Augustine and the Limits of Virtue

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Robert Van De Weyer

The Letters of Pelagius (Early Christian Writings)

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Ed. R. Williams

(See chapters by R. A. Markus, The Legacy of Pelagius; and L. Wickham, Pelagianism in the East.)

 

Synod against the heresy of Pelagius and Celestius.
In the consulate of the most glorious Emperors, Honorius for the XIIth time and Theodosius for the VIIIth, Augusti most exalted, on the Calends of May, at Carthage in the secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus. When Aurelius the bishop presided over the whole council, the deacons standing by, it pleased all the bishops, whose names and subscriptions are indicated, met together in the holy synod of the Church of Carthage to define—

That Adam was not created by God subject to death. (Canon 1 of 418 Synod)
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

That infants are baptized for the remission of sins. (Canon 2 of 418 Synod)
Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema. For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, “By one man sin is come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned,” than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.

That the grace of God not only gives remission of sins, but also affords aid that we sin no more. (Canon 3 of 418 Synod)
Likewise it seemed good, that whoever should say that the grace of God, by which a man is justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, avails only for the remission of past sins, and not for assistance against committing sins in the future, let him be anathema.

That the grace of Christ gives not only the knowledge of our duty, but also inspires us with a desire that we may be able to accomplish what we know. (Canon 4 of 418 Synod)
Also, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us only in not sinning by revealing to us and opening to our understanding the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let him be anathema. For when the Apostle says: “Wisdom puffeth up, but charity edifieth” it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace of Christ for that which puffeth us up, but have it not for that which edifieth, since in each case it is the gift of God, both to know what we ought to do, and to love to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while charity is edifying us. For as of God it is written, “Who teacheth man knowledge,” so also it is written, “Love is of God.”

That without the grace of God we can do no good thing. (Canon 5 of 418 Synod)
It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema. For the Lord spake concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: “Without me ye can do nothing,” and not “Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.”

That not only humble but also true is that voice of the Saints: “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves.” (Canon 6 of 418 Synod)
It also seemed good that as St. John the Apostle says, “If we shall say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” whosoever thinks that this should be so understood as to mean that out of humility, we ought to say that we have sin, and not because it is really so, let him be anathema. For the Apostle goes on to add, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity,” where it is sufficiently clear that this is said not only of humility but also truly. For the Apostle might have said, “If we shall say we have no sins we shall extoll ourselves, and humility shall have no place in us;” but when he says, “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” he sufficiently intimates that he who affirmed that he had no sin would speak not that which is true but that which is false.

That in the Lord’s Prayer the Saints say for themselves: “Forgive us our trespasses.” (Canon 7 of 418 Synod)
It has seemed good that whoever should say that when in the Lord’s prayer, the saints say, “forgive us our trespasses,” they say this not for themselves, because they have no need of this petition, but for the rest who are sinners of the people; and that therefore no one of the saints can say, “Forgive me my trespasses,” but “Forgive us our trespasses;” so that the just is understood to seek this for others rather than for himself; let him be anathema. For holy and just was the Apostle James, when he said, “For in many things we offend all.” For why was it added “all,” unless that this sentence might agree also with the psalm, where we read, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified;” and in the prayer of the most wise Solomon: “There is no man that sinneth not;” and in the book of the holy Job: “He sealeth in the hand of every man, that every man may know his own infirmity;” wherefore even the holy and just Daniel when in prayer said several times: “We have sinned, we have done iniquity,” and other things which there truly and humbly he confessed; nor let it be thought (as some have thought) that this was said not of his own but rather of the people’s sins, for he said further on: “When I shall pray and confess my sins and the sins of my people to the Lord my God;” he did not wish to say our sins, but he said the sins of his people and his own sins, since he as a prophet foresaw that those who were to come would thus misunderstand his words.

That the Saints say with accuracy, “Forgive us our trespasses.” (Canon 8 of 418 Synod)
Likewise also it seemed good, that whoever wished that these words of the Lord’s prayer, when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses” are said by the saints out of humility and not in truth let them be anathema. For who would make a lying prayer, not to men but to God? Who would say with his lips that he wished his sins forgiven him, but in his heart that he had no sins to be forgiven.
 



 

 

 

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Canons of Carthage (418)
Caelestius, Celestius, Coelestius
Pelagius
Pelagianism
Code of Canons of the African Church
The Canons of the Synod of Africa
Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae
Early Church Councils
Early Church law and practice

 

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