Dec 04

I had some one tell me this week that they had heard I was teaching Sinless Perfectionism and Semi-Pelagianism. Most people do not know what either of these terms mean, other than it is not a good thing.

The glossary in Finney’s Systematic Theology defines Sinless Perfectionism as “SINLESS PERFECTION: [also called PERFECTIONISM] a theological view that holds that a believer can ‘arrive’ at a state in which (1.) his walk in obedience and holiness is not dependent on the grace of God, and that (2.) he no longer has the ability to sin. Finney rejected this view entirely.”

That definition is kind of unreal, but whatever. Of course I do not use the term Sinless Perfectionism as I prefer to use Scriptural terms. I do, however, teach the Free from sin teaching, and I think I am in good company on that one (Rom 6:18).

“Semi-Pelagianism is a Christian theological understanding about salvation; that is, how humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. The Semi-Pelagian teaching is derived from the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (see below), and teaches that it is necessary for humans to make the first step toward God and then God will complete salvation.

According to Semi-Pelagianism, man does not have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then completes the salvation process. This teaching is distinct from the traditional patristic doctrine of synergeia, that the process of salvation is cooperation between God and man from start to finish.”
–wikipedia: Semi-Pelagianism

I reject Semi-Pelagianism completely. I would not even accuse those that reject the Biblical doctrine of original sin as Semi-Pelagianians, but I know some that would. I just find is so strange that someone would think I hold to Semi-Pelagianism.

So here is how I understand the Bible teaching concerning a person coming to God.

By God’s unmerited favor (grace) toward mankind, He has promised to draw every person to Christ (Joh 1:9, Tit 2:11, 12). If God did not awaken us to our need of salvation and draw us to Christ, no-one would ever be saved.

The key scripture is “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (Joh 6:44).

This may happen through your reading of the Bible, through listening to someone’s testimony of how they found God, through attending a church meeting, through a dream, through God speaking directly to your heart, or through reading a track or booklet on how to find God.

As God draws you to Christ, by awakening your conscience, you will feel convicted of your sins and reproved for your sinning (Joh 8:9, 16:8). As you consider what your awakened conscience is telling you, you will either defend your sins and make excuses for yourself, or you will agree with your conscience and accept the conviction and reproof.

When you agree with your conscience, the grace (unmerited favor) of God will begin to work a godly sorrow in your heart for the sinfulness of your life (2Cor 7:10). This godly sorrow will work a hatred in your heart for your sins and a desire to be free from them (Rom 7:15).

In this state of conviction and godly sorrow, you will find yourselfunable to do the good that you would desire to do, and the evil that you do not want to do, you will find yourself committing (Rom 7:19). This conviction and godly sorrow is brought on by the grace of God and will lead you to a crisis decision where you will either reject God and his dealings, or you will repent (Luk 13:3) and be converted.

Now, so much for me holding to Semi-Pelagianism.

Here is how to pronounce Pelagianism:

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7 Responses to “Semi-Pelagianism”

  1. 1. Renee Says:

    Pelagianism -the theological term described -means that a person believes that the will alone is what keeps you from sinning. Everything is in the will, even for babies and children. Pelagius taught the idea that there was no original sin or corruption of the human nature-just the will. This is wrong on so many levels, but you are definitely not teaching that from what I’ve read of your website. I think you have explained “free from sin” well. In early church history, Augustine and Pelagius had doctrinal wars about sin and the will and both of them were wrong on various points by my estimation. One thing we know is always right- and that’s the Bible.

    People are often afraid of that phrase “free from sin”. But as you point out, its in the bible. One of my favorite scriptures is St. John 1:12 “To as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” When you love God with all your heart, God gives grace and power to overcome any wrong or temptation that comes your way. This is not a legalistic/perfectionism but your love for God compels you do what’s right even if you may suffer for it.

    Pray for me. I’m trying to change those bad eating habits too. Good work. You’re an inspiration.

  2. 2. jnorm888 Says:

    The original semi-pelagian view as seen from the classical semi-pelagians was that Prevenient grace was for “some” or “most” men.

    I agree with you, that classical “synergia” is a co-operation from first to last. And this is why I don’t see a problem with the Weslyian Arminian view, that Prevenient grace is for “all men”.

    Have a good weekend


  3. 3. Bob Mutch Says:

    While I certianly embrace prevenient grace or preventing grace or perhaps better put in modern English Preceding Grace. All semi-pelagians reject the doctrine of prevenient grace. I reject all forms of Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism as unbiblical.

    The doctrine of Prevenient grace is that divine grace is offered to all mankind and precedes all human decision to turn to God through Christ. It exists prior to and without reference to anything mankind may or has done. With out preventient grace not one person would turn to God. See Wikipedia: Prevenient Grace.

    This is the position of both the Classic-Arminian and the Weslyian-Arminian view.

    The main difference between the Classic-Arminian and Weslyian-Arminian view is that the Weslyian-Arminian holds 1) that when you commit a willful or known sin you will be spiritually seperated from God and no longer a child of God, 2) that you can live a spiritual life where you no longer commit known or wilful sins, and 3) that there is a work of grace (notice I left out the word second) called entire sanctification that removes the sin nature and gives you a pure heart.

    You have a good weekend also!



  4. 4. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Renee,

    My understanding of term Semi-Pelagianism is that it mainly refers to the issue of whether people can choice on there own to come to God without being under the infulence of prevenient grace or what might be better called Preceding Grace.
    See Wikipedia: Prevenient Grace.

    So the point with Semi-Pelagianism was not so much about the issue of not sinning but how a person coming to God and as you noted he taught their was no original sin or spiritual corruption that came with the fall.

    I am reading an interesting book that may be of some interest to you. It is on the theologian Albert Barnes (1798–1870) and it contains his message “The Way of Salvation” giving in a 1829 revivial meeting which caused heresy charges against him by the Old School Presbyterians. It also includes the 10 changes and Barnes response to them.

    Here is the title of the book:
    The Way Of Salvation A Sermon Delivered At Morristown, New Jersey, February 8, 1829, by Albert Barnes Togethere With Mr. Barnes’ Defence Of The Sermon Read before the Synod of Philadelphia, at Lancaster, October 29, 1930 And His Defence Before The Second Presbytery Of Philadelphia In Reply To The Charges of the Rev. Dr. George Junkin. 266 Pages.
    You can read it online at google books — The Way Of Salvation.

    His trial for heresy in 1836 was on the issues of imputation of the sin of Adam, original sin and the atonement. Both Barnes and Charles Finney (1792–1875) were part of the New School Presbyterians and they both seemed to reject imputation of the sin of Adam, original sin and had a different view on the atonement.

    These issues have been of interest to me as the congregation (Charity Congergation in Vienna, Ontario) I attend as a visitor has been giving quite a bit of attention to issues like imputation of the sin of Adam, original sin, and the meaning of death in Gen 2:17.

    Both Barnes and Finney have been accused of holding to Semi-Pelagianism.

    I would agree with you that there is some kind of corruption of the human nature but I have found that a lot of the discussion has to do with what people mean by the words they use. You will see this if you read Barnes book where he responds to the 10 charges by Mr. George Junkin. It is amazing how theologians can go around in circles and seem to say the same thing but claim that each other are in grave error.

    Also there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference on a practicial level between the two teachings. I have made a clear commitment to love God not dogma and to serve and worship Him not some doctrinal system that seems to be driven to get every one to dot there i’s and cross their t’s and say and see things just like them. God save us from such a spirit!

    I think many Christians are afraid of that phrase “free from sin” and what it implies because they have or have had wilful and known sin in their own life. Many of them seem to try to blur the defination of sin to include human flaws and thereby conclude that we all sin but at the same time are only talking about their “human flaw sins” and side step the question do they have known and wilful sin in their life.

    I also rejectd legalistic perfectionism and feel that we are to perfect holiness in the fear of God because the love of God compels us to hate sin and love righteousness.

    Changing your eating habits is a process. You have to 1) make a lifestyle change, 2) work on removing the evidence of unhealthly eating (being overweight), and then 3) put on the grace of self-control. This is a progress I am still working through. I feel like I have worked through the first two steps in that I am really changed my eating habits and have lots 40lbs. People are now telling me that I have lost to much weight which I consider to be a compliment.

    The third step is to move to a level where you are not working out to burn lots of calories just so you can over eat. Just because a person doesn’t have the evidence of unhealthly eating (overweight) doesn’t mean they have self control.

    Thank you for all your kind and encouraging comments!

    Christian love and prayers,


  5. 5. Kirk Says:

    Freewillism is a False Gospel —>

  6. 6. bob Says:

    Hi Kirk,

    This video is very harsh. It claims that a quote from the Satanic book of Thelema “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” is what the free will people teaching. This video claims that the free will message is of demons, a blasphemous error, and Arminian churches must be cut off from fellowship just like other cults.

    I don’t think you should be promoting harsh videos like this Kirk.


  7. 7. Kirk Says:

    How about this one, then???

    Let Him Be Damned! —>

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