Pelagianism

Pelagius was a heretic, and his teachings are known as Pelagianism. Pelagius, of whom little is known, began the spread of his false doctrines at Rome, Italy, c.405. His teachings might be summarized as follows: God did not give Adam immortality, nor did Adam need grace to avoid sin. His sin was personal, and therefore was not transmitted to posterity. Hence, no original sin. As to grace, man does not need this gift, because the will of itself can avoid sin and merit heaven. “Grace” is God‘s gift of a free will. Pelagius later admitted the existence of a grace independent of the will; but its function was not to begin but only to perfect good works. This grace is merited by man. It is not a gift. Nor is it necessary for salvation but makes the attainment of salvation easier. Saint Augustine of Hippo refuted these doctrines, and Pelagianism was condemned by the Council of Carthage and Council of Orange in 418 and 529. For a more in-depth discusion, see the Catholic Encyclopedia article.