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“Pelagius on Free Will

From Augustine: De Gratia Christi, 5

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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.)

“We distinguish,” says he, “three things, arranging them in a certain graduated order. We put in the first place ‘ability;’ in the second, ‘volition;’ and in the third, ‘actuality.’ The ‘ability’ we place in our nature, the ‘volition’ in our will, and the ‘actuality’ in the effect. The first, that is, the ‘ability,’ properly belongs to God, who has bestowed it on His creature; the other two, that is, the ‘volition’ and the ‘actuality,’ must be referred to man, because they flow forth from the fountain of the will. For his willing, therefore, and doing a good work, the praise belongs to man; or rather both to man, and to God who has bestowed on him the ‘capacity’ for his will and work, and who evermore by the help of His grace assists even this capacity. That a man is able to will and effect any good work, comes from God alone. So that this one faculty can exist, even when the other two have no being; but these latter cannot exist without that former one. I am therefore free not to have either a good volition or action; but I am by no means able not to have the capacity of good. This capacity is inherent in me, whether I will or no; nor does nature at any time receive in this point freedom for itself. Now the meaning of all this will be rendered clearer by an example or two. That we are able to see with our eyes is not of us; but it is our own that we make a good or a bad use of our eyes. So again (that I may, by applying a general case in illustration, embrace all), that we are able to do, say, think, any good thing, comes from Him who has endowed us with this ‘ability,’ and who also assists this ‘ability;’ but that we really do a good thing, or speak a good word, or think a good thought, proceeds from our own selves, because we are also able to turn all these into evil. Accordingly,—and this is a point which needs frequent repetition, because of your calumniation of us,—whenever we say that a man can live without sin, we also give praise to God by our acknowledgment of the capacity which we have received from Him, who has bestowed such ‘ability’ upon us; and there is here no occasion for praising the human agent, since it is God’s matter alone that is for the moment treated of; for the question is not about ‘willing,’ or ‘effecting,’ but simply and solely about that which may possibly be.”
 



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original Latin text
From Augustine: De Gratia Christi, 5
On the Grace of Christ
Pelagius' views about free will
Pelagius and Pelagianism
Augustine debate with Pelagius
Migne Latin
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Latina

 

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