Council of Carthage To Investigate Pelagianism, May 1, 418

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  • Council of Carthage To Investigate Pelagianism, May 1, 418

    Synopsis: After Coelestius appeared before Pope Zosimus for examination and was vindicated and after reading the letter and confession of faith that Pelagius had sent him Zosimus sent letters to the North African bishops declaring Coelestius and Pelagius to be orthodox, criticizing the African bishops conduct, and representing Heros and Lazarus (the two deposed bishops who had brought charges up against Pelagius for his Diospolis (Lydda) trial) as being wicked men, whom he had punished with excommunication and deposition. In response to these letters the African bishops assembled sometime around the end of 417 or beginning of 418 and in a Synodal letter to Zosimus declared “that he should hold to the sentence pronounced by Pope Innocent against Pelagius and Coelestius until both of them distinctly acknowledged that for every single good action we need the help of the grace of God through Jesus Christ; and this not only to perceive what is right, but also to practise it, so that without it we can neither possess, think, speak, or do anything really good and holy.” Zosimus responded by affirming that he had already given the affair of the Pelagians his mature consideration, but added that he had transmitted all the documents to the Africans for the purpose of common consultation. This letter reached the hands of the Africans towards the end of April 418, and on the 1st of May they opened a new great or General Synod in the Secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus at Carthage. Bishops were present not only from all the provinces of Africa, but even from Spain, in all no less than two hundred. They composed eight or nine canons against Pelagianism, and eleven others, partly directed against the Donatists and partly concerning general matters.

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  • #2
    Originally posted by William View Post
    Synopsis: After Coelestius appeared before Pope Zosimus for examination and was vindicated and after reading the letter and confession of faith that Pelagius had sent him Zosimus sent letters to the North African bishops declaring Coelestius and Pelagius to be orthodox, criticizing the African bishops conduct, and representing Heros and Lazarus (the two deposed bishops who had brought charges up against Pelagius for his Diospolis (Lydda) trial) as being wicked men, whom he had punished with excommunication and deposition. In response to these letters the African bishops assembled sometime around the end of 417 or beginning of 418 and in a Synodal letter to Zosimus declared “that he should hold to the sentence pronounced by Pope Innocent against Pelagius and Coelestius until both of them distinctly acknowledged that for every single good action we need the help of the grace of God through Jesus Christ; and this not only to perceive what is right, but also to practise it, so that without it we can neither possess, think, speak, or do anything really good and holy.” Zosimus responded by affirming that he had already given the affair of the Pelagians his mature consideration, but added that he had transmitted all the documents to the Africans for the purpose of common consultation. This letter reached the hands of the Africans towards the end of April 418, and on the 1st of May they opened a new great or General Synod in the Secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus at Carthage. Bishops were present not only from all the provinces of Africa, but even from Spain, in all no less than two hundred. They composed eight or nine canons against Pelagianism, and eleven others, partly directed against the Donatists and partly concerning general matters.
    Reply from Catholic Answers

    Zozimus (reigned 417-418) was approached by Caelestius, who brought a profession of faith from Pelagius for the Pope's examination. Zozimus examined Caelestius and the profession and found nothing heretical in them. He said the African bishops' condemnation of Pelagius and Caelestius had been hasty and instructed Africans with charges against them to appear in Rome for further investigation.

    This prompted outrage among the African bishops since they considered the Pelagian controversy to have been closed by Zozimus's predecessor, Innocent I. Zozimus responded by stressing the primacy of the Roman see and by explaining to them that he had not settled the matter definitively and that he did not intend to do so without consulting them. He said that his predecessor's decision remained in effect until he had finished investigating the matter.

    The bishops provided Zozimus with additional evidence against Pelagius, and the Pope condemned Pelagianism. His initial assessment had been a tentative judgment, based on partial evidence. He did not issue a definitive judgment, much less a doctrinal definition, as indicated by the fact he asked for additional evidence to be sent to Rome. The case of Zozimus thus does not touch the doctrine of papal infallibility.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Catholic Answers to what question? Papal infallibility? That wasn't my question nor purpose for posting the PDF concerning the Council of Carthage. I actually included the PDF in the OP for researching purposes, a task I find much easier than expected, for one only needs to acknowledge the current soteriology of Roman Catholicism of evidence of departing from Scripture and the previous position of the early Church. Clearly, this as well as what follows are a pivotal moment in Church history.

      Pelagianism was condemned. Six years after the council of Carthage a general council of African Churches reaffirmed the anathemas of 412 AD. Zosimus sided with Pelagius in 412, he wrote a letter condemning the anathema of Carthage. Of course having the support of Scripture, the leaders of the Carthagian Council disregarded the Bishop and his letter. Philip Schaff noted church historian observes, "This temporary favor of the bishop of Rome towards the Pelagian heresy is a significant presage of the indulgence of later popes for pelagianizing tendencies". It was these later "pelagianizing tendencies" that lead to the works-righteousness advocated by the bishop of Rome that later led to the Roman Catholic belief system. This was a pivotal moment in church history. Cornelius Otto Jansen like Martin Luther believed the early Church of Rome departed from its position that all of life was by the grace of God. And like Augustine Jansen taught that man's spirit was dead in sin, and therefore needed to be regenerated. Jansen understood that this was something that happened to man by God's grace and not something man made happen by his faith. In 1713 Pope Clement the XI issued a Papal Bull denouncing over 100 statements, many of which were actual quotes of Augustine. A Church that once sided with Augustine now sided with Pelagius.

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        Catholic Answers to what question? Papal infallibility? That wasn't my question nor purpose for posting the PDF concerning the Council of Carthage. I actually included the PDF in the OP for researching purposes, a task I find much easier than expected, for one only needs to acknowledge the current soteriology of Roman Catholicism of evidence of departing from Scripture and the previous position of the early Church. Clearly, this as well as what follows are a pivotal moment in Church history.

        Pelagianism was condemned. Six years after the council of Carthage a general council of African Churches reaffirmed the anathemas of 412 AD. Zosimus sided with Pelagius in 412, he wrote a letter condemning the anathema of Carthage. Of course having the support of Scripture, the leaders of the Carthagian Council disregarded the Bishop and his letter. Philip Schaff noted church historian observes, "This temporary favor of the bishop of Rome towards the Pelagian heresy is a significant presage of the indulgence of later popes for pelagianizing tendencies".
        It just gives a different perspective on Zozimus and Pelagianism. Though it is is a good example of infallibility in action.

        Originally posted by William View Post
        Cornelius Otto Jansen like Martin Luther believed the early Church of Rome departed from its position that all of life was by the grace of God. And like Augustine Jansen taught that man's spirit was dead in sin, and therefore needed to be regenerated. Jansen understood that this was something that happened to man by God's grace and not something man made happen by his faith. In 1713 Pope Clement the XI issued a Papal Bull denouncing over 100 statements, many of which were actual quotes of Augustine. A Church that once sided with Augustine now sided with Pelagius.
        So what we have here is a Pope condemns a heresy (Pelagianism) and 1300 years later another Pope condemned a different herey (Jansenism). :)
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by Bede View Post
          So what we have here is a Pope condemns a heresy (Pelagianism) and 1300 years later another Pope condemned a different herey (Jansenism). :)
          Actually, we have a council that condemns Pelagianism, and later a Pope siding with Pelagianism. The siding of Pelagianism resulted in the abandonment of the Sola Scriptura principal used by council of Carthage. Obviously Roman Catholics believe in the authority of the Popes, no matter what they say they will be infallible because people believe them having authority. This was a pivotal moment in history leading to an abandonment of a fundamental principal that later Reformers attempted to align a church that was delineating from Scripture. The evidence is Roman Catholic soteriology. If one standardizes infallibility by the Papacy then I can understand that they are the standard bearer by which others are considered heretical. If we use Scripture alone, then it is quite in opposition and contradictory to what Roman Catholics teach. On another note it is apparent that Francis is actually very consistent with former Popes, and errs of a works righteousness soteriology while stating that atheist will go to heaven. Do atheist do the same works as believers? I'll let you decide.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>
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