Post Author: Bill Pratt
This question first came to a dramatic head in the church in the fifth and sixth centuries. There were four main protagonists.
Augustine of Hippo argued that salvation is totally and causatively of God’s grace.
A contemporary of Augustine, Pelagius, argued that salvation is totally and causatively of man’s free will.
Following these two was Cassian, who argued that salvation originates in man’s free will, but then proceeds as a cooperation between both man and God.
Finally, we have the Second Council of Orange (A.D. 529), a group of bishops who argued that salvation originates in God’s grace, but proceeds as a cooperation between both God and man.
The position of the Council of Orange (commonly called semi-Augustinianism) became the quasi-official position of the church until the Reformation in the 16th century. The Reformers, especially John Calvin, felt that the church had drifted, since A.D. 529, to the position of Cassian (his position is commonly called semi-Pelagianism), and wanted to bring the church all the way back to the Augustinian position, rejecting the semi-Augustinianism of Orange.
This debate continues today in the Protestant world among Calvinists who are closer to Augustine, and Arminians who are closer to Cassian. There are also those who reject these two views and land in the middle; these moderate Calvinists would be closer to the position that the Council of Orange took.
What do you think is the cause of our salvation? Which of these four positions do you think is closest to being correct?