PELAGIUS: The link at the bottom is the translation and treatment of the pamphlet “Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart” written and circulated by Pelagius.
Pelagius believed exactly as I do on the message by Paul in Romans 9 that there are many like Pharaoh, hardened by and to the wisdom of God, yet nevertheless can respond to the grace of God and be saved.
Rees, in summing up Pelagius’ message in the pamphlet says the following:
“In this way, by transferring the Lord’s gifts to others, many of them like Pharaoh, he has clearly made them honorable, instead of dishonorable, vessels by his example and teaching. He himself bears witness to this when he says: ‘Where evil multiplied there came a greater abundance of grace’ (Rom 5:20). He it was who called on others to ‘run the race’, so that he might win them all over and then they might either be delivered from the jaws of the devil by their running or meet Christ, to meet whom is life itself, when he said: ‘So run the race that you may all win the prize’ (1Cor 9:24).
Pelagius believed that the dishonorable vessel and the hardened soul has free will and can respond to the grace of God that is always beckoning. Pelagius believed that many in the same condition as Pharaoh did respond, cleansed themselves of the things that made them “dishonorable” (quoting 2 Tim 2:21-23), and they by God’s grace became vessel for honor.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the ways Calvinist and Lutheran “Sola Fide” people today twist the position of the church of Christ on grace and faith, so Pelagius’ views on free will, personal responsibility, and grace were twisted and distorted against him. Augustine would not have been above twisting the Scriptures.
I have not yet found one definitive, clearly stated position from the mouth of Pelagius that is against salvation as a gift or that proposes personal meriting of salvation. What I hear time and again is an illogical, unsupported leap that because Pelagius held such and such a view, on personal holiness for example, it means he was a teacher of graceless Christianity. But there is enough that is said about Pelagius that makes that the IN-correct conclusion.
Bryn R. Rees in his translation of the Pelagius’ Hardening of Pharaoh does not cast the Pelagian view as anti-grace. He says of the sinful soul, “it will lie where it is for ever, broken and scattered, unless it extends its hand to the grace that draws it along with it as it walks with the aid of the will’s feet,”1 Ibid, p17.
There must be enough in Pelagius’ writings that make it clear that confidence in God’s grace is essential to salvation.
Pelagius was shocked to find Roman Catholicism was devoid of holiness with so many “converts” being coerced and compelled — Augustine argued that Jesus’ words of “go to the highways and byways and compel them to come to the wedding” to be justification of conversion by threats — to confess Christ but the life didn’t match the confession. Pelagius stressed being perfect in holiness which his opponents twisted to mean salvation by merit and not grace. But what Pelagius meant was striving for holiness by the grace of God. After all, didn’t Jesus say true discipleship is to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” (Mt 5)? So the Augustinians then and the Calvinists reformed theologians now do twist Pelagius as they twist the positions of the church of Christ.