Sunday, 10 February 2019

David Burkhart Janssen: Inimici gratiae Christi: The development of Augustine’s construction of Pelagianism c. 418

‘Pelagianism’ as a heresy emerged as will be shown due to Augustine’s confronting and refuting the errors which he ascribed to the theology of Pelagius. Whereas scholars have been tempted to ascribe Augustine’s issue with Pelagius to sociological or ecclesiopolitical differences, the bishop of Hippo in fact saw ‘Pelagianism’ as a sincere christological-soteriological error. This elucidates especially during the time of the Council of Carthage (418) which has been largely neglected in scholarship hitherto: Augustine constructed ‘Pelagianism’ as a specific heresy by promulgating and systematizing precise definitions and key phrases of the errors of the Pelagiani, a heresiological label which was first used in this period (416-421) when Augustine developed different argumentative strategies to characterise ‘Pelagianism’.This paper aims to illustrate Augustine’s anti-Pelagian strategy by tracing the development of one of these heresiological key phrases. After 416, Augustine characterized the Pelagians as inimici gratiae Christi accusing them of evacuating the soteriological significance of the cross and blood of Christ. This serious accusation will be understood as intertwining theology, heresiology and a rhetorical strategy. This paper will show how Augustine created this label as part of a christological-soteriological argumentation and how he could reuse it in different works and situations. It will ask how Augustine modified and interpreted this label, especially in c. ep. Pel., where he introduced the specification inimici crucis Christi and focused on the significance of Christ’ blood. Thus, this paper will ask how Augustine developed and expressed his christocentric soteriology in distinction of ‘Pelagianism’.

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