Share this entry
semi-Pelagian Line breaks: semi-Pelagian
Pronunciation: /ˌsɛmɪpɪˈleɪdʒɪən/
Christian Theology

Definition of semi-Pelagian in English:


Denoting the doctrine that the first steps towards good can be taken by the human will, though supervening divine grace is needed for salvation. It was (questionably) attributed to John Cassian (d.435), and was generally held to be heretical. See also Pelagius.
Example sentences
  • We turn our attention first of all to the Semi-Pelagian controversy that occupied so much of the attention of the great church father, Augustine.
  • For example, there is widespread use in mission of semi-Pelagian methods of bringing people into the churches.
  • It means it doesn't matter whether the priest is in sin or not, a heretic or not, or semi-Pelagian, or whatever it is, it doesn't really matter so long as he's ordained, if he says the words, then the power is there, the grace flows.


Back to top  
An adherent of the semi-Pelagian doctrine.
Example sentences
  • Semi-Pelagians believe that the Fall in the Garden did affect all of Adam’s progeny, but not fully.
  • Although Augustine had outlined his basic position in the Pelagian controversy, the attacks of the so-called Semi-Pelagians forced him to define more sharply and defend more carefully his views.


Example sentences
  • There is an implicit semi-Pelagianism to the argument.
  • The label gained further notoriety when in the late sixteenth century a Spanish theologian coined the term ‘semi-Pelagianism’ in a vain effort to stifle the burgeoning moral theology of the Jesuits.
  • The downside is that it is often a semi-Pelagianism: you are ‘really a Christian’ if you achieve a particular emotional state and use a particular jargon acceptable to Evangelicals.
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources