In the early days of the Christian Church, the focus was on defining what it meant to be a Christian. At the same time, the church was plagued with controversies on the nature of God and Christ. While the church worked to establish doctrine on the nature of God and, Christ a controversy arose concerning human nature. The controversy started in the 5th century when Pelagius a British spiritual director heard a bishop quote from Augustine’s Confessions. The quote stated, “Grant what you command and command what you will”. Pelagius believed the quote allowed humans to avoid taking responsibility for choosing to sin. Pelagius’ views on the nature of sin and grace not ...view middle of the document...
In Augustine’s view, sexual desire was the main manifestation of original sin. Therefore, since humans descend from Adam, we inherited his guilt and corruption. According to Augustine, the guilt and corruption can only be removed through baptism. As a result, he was an advocate for the baptism of infants because he believed that unbaptized infants would not attain salvation. However, the medieval church replaced the view in favor of the view that children go to limbo. Additionally, he believed that sin takes over human will and we have no choice but to sin. As a result, whatever choices we make are sinful. Consequently, the choice to choose can only be restored by the Grace of God.
Grace - Pelagian View
Pertaining to grace, Pelagius believed grace does not change human will because humans have free will. He thought that humans could always overcome sin because God created us good. Pelagius also believed that we rebuke God if we believe we are not capable of keeping His commands. He stated, “Whether we will, or whether we will not, we have the capacity of not sinning.” According to Alister E. McGrath, Pelagianism taught that humans are able to take the initiative in their own salvation.
Grace - Augustine of Hippo’s View
Subsequently, Augustine viewed grace as God’s unmerited favor. He believed that grace alone calls us from sin and leads us to repentance. In other words, grace leads us away from sin into a love for God and a life of obedience. Grace according to Augustine changes our will and empowers us to follow God’s ways. However, because of the nature of the original sin all humans will hate God and love evil. In short, Augustine believed in predestination. He believed that we are all born as sinners because of Adam’s fall. Further, in his view, God foreknows and elects those who will receive grace. As a result, our only hope for a relationship with God is through God’s transforming grace. In the end, whomever God does not elect will be damned.
Western Thought on Original Sin – after Augustine
Accordingly, at the 2nd Council of Orange Augustine’s views were affirmed. The council confirmed that all humans inherit the guilt and corruption of original sin and those humans can only attain salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit. However, the council rejected the teachings that God predestines some to damnation.
Simultaneously, in his Summa theologiae Thomas Aquinas stated his views on sin and grace. Like Augustine Aquinas believed that humans are born with original sin and therefore inherit Adam’s guilt and corruption. In question 109 from Summa theologiae Aquinas asked and answered the question whether man can rise from sin without the help of grace? According to Aquinas, man cannot rise from sin without the help of grace. Aquinas stated that, “Man incurs a threefold loss through sin, namely, the stain of the soul, the corruption of natural good, and the debt of punishment. Therefore,...