On Pelagianism


Order of Contents

.      Articles  2
.      Quote  1



Contra Pelagianism Articles


Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology, tr. George M. Giger, ed. James Dennison Jr.  (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 1

5th Topic, 9. ‘Was man created in puris naturalibus, or could he have been so created?  We deny against the Pelagians and Scholastics.’  462-64

9th Topic, 10. ‘Whether any original sin or inherent stain and depravity may be granted, propagated to us by generation.  We affirm against the Pelagians and Socinians.’  629



Contra Pelagianism Quote


Leonard Riissen

A Complete Summary of Elenctic Theology & of as Much Didactic Theology as is Necessary  trans. J. Wesley White  MTh thesis  (Bern, 1676; GPTS, 2009), ch. 11, ‘Christ’, pp. 4-5, 90-91, 105-7, 112-13

“Controversy – Is natural theology sufficient to lead anyone to salvation, and can anyone be saved without the knowledge of Christ and the Gospel?  We deny against the Pelagians, Arminians, and Socinians.


1. No one can be saved except through Christ and faith in Him (Jn. 8:24; 15:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:11; Gal. 3:9, 16, 22).

2. Anyone who does not know or have Christ does not have life and is without hope of salvation (1 Jn. 5:12, Eph. 2:12).

3. The law cannot bless man, much less nature (Acts 13:39, Rom. 3:20, 8:3, Gal. 3:10).


1. In that case, how would they be without excuse (Rom. 2:1)?  Reply.  Because they do those things that they know are worthy of death (Rom. 1:32).  Further objection. The goodness of God leads to conversion (v. 4). Reply. This ought to have been a moving cause unto conversion; however, it is not such without faith in Christ.  Further objection. The doers of the law will be justified (v. 7, 13).  Reply.  This means: if someone would be saved by the law, he should not only be a hearer of the law but a doer of it.

2. They were able to find God by reaching out for Him (Acts 17:27).  Reply. This means that they can find out that God is, but they were not able to come to salvation without conversion and faith in Christ.

3. Gentiles were converted (Jonah 3:10). Reply. 1. The Word of God had been preached to them. 2. “To be converted” in this verse means to depart from the wicked deeds they had been doing.

Controversy – Is human nature after the fall not only deprived of original righteousness but also truly corrupt and inclined to evil? We affirm against the Pelagians, Socinians, and Arminians.


1. All have become corrupt and incapable of any good (Rom. 3:12, 2 Cor. 3:5).

2. Even in the best people, there is flesh fighting against the law of God and the Spirit (Rom. 7:23, Gal. 5:17).

3. Everyone must be born again (Jn. 3:3, 5).


1. One act does not lead to a disposition. Reply. One injury leads to death, and privation of the light leads to darkness.

2. Infants have done nothing good or evil (Rom. 9:11). Reply. In act.

3. Infants are innocent (Ps. 106:38). Reply. Civilly, insofar as they have committed nothing in the state worthy of death.

Controversy 2 – Is that inherent original sin truly and properly sin that merits death?  We affirm against the same.14


1. All sin merits death (Rom. 6:23), and there is no sin improperly so[1]called (1 Jn. 5:17).

2. The whole world is liable to condemnation before God on account of it (Rom. 3:19, Eph. 2:3).

3. This sin is against the divine law and the Spirit (Rom. 7:7, 23, Gal. 5:17).

4. It is an impurity (Jn. 14:4) on account of which man must be regenerated (Jn. 3:3, 5).


1. It is not our fault that we are prone to sin.  Reply.  It is, insofar as we sinned in Adam.

2. Infants belong to Christ and are saved (Mt. 19:14).  Reply.  Whoever is saved through Christ has sin (1 Jn. 1:7).

Controversy – Does the revelation of the Gospel depend on the good use of natural gifts; or if man does what he can by nature, will God grant him further grace and the revelation of the Gospel?  We deny against the Pelagians, Jesuits, and the Arminians.


1. Calling and regeneration are not according to the works that we have done (2 Tim. 1:9, Tit. 3:4-5, Rom. 11:5-6).

2. It is not of those who will nor of those who run but of God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:16, 24, 10:20).

3. God began a good work in us, not we in ourselves (Phil. 1:6, 1 Cor. 4:7).

4. Man is by nature dead in sin (Eph. 2:5), and there cannot be any good thing whatsoever in him unless God grants him conversion (2 Tim. 2:25).

5. Then it could not be said, “Who has first given to Him that He should repay?” (Rom. 11:35).

6. The wisest of the Greek and Roman philosophers have not been called but an idolatrous Abraham, Rahab, a thief, and Paul were (Mt. 11:25).


1. God is good toward all His works (Ps. 145:9). Reply. He bountifully gives to all natural blessings not the blessings of grace.

2. He wants all to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Reply.  To everyone to whom the word is preached insofar as He commands them to acknowledge the truth.

3. To the one who has it will be given (Mt. 13:12). Reply. Not to the one who has nature but who has the grace of election and regeneration.

4. He promises faith to the one who thirsts (Mt. 11:28).  Reply.  No.  He promises rest to the one who believes.

5. In Acts, when the conversion of Cornelius, Lydia, and Justus occurred, it mentions that they were religious and feared God.  Reply. Then, their conversion was only a leading of converts to an acknowledgment of the person of Christ. Besides, people are often called “religious” according to their profession alone (Acts 13:50).

6. Those who abuse gifts are punished. Reply. Rightly, since they sin, but they cannot for that reason make use of the gifts to please God and merit a new revelation.

Controversy – In the covenant of grace does God truly promise those things that the law requires in us such as true conversion, faith, and perseverance?  We affirm against the same.


1. He promises a new spirit and heart by which we will not turn away from Him (Ez. 36:26, Jer. 32:39-40).

2. The new covenant promises the restitution of fallen man and abolition of the power of the devil in us (Gen. 3:15); therefore…

3. In the new covenant, God also says to fallen man, “I will be your God” (Heb. 8:10), and it is certainly required that He give grace and glory for this to be the case.

4. Unless they were promised in the new covenant, the sacraments of the new covenant could not seal them contrary to Mt. 26:28, Col. 2:11-12.

5. If the new covenant only promised glory and not grace, then the old covenant would be better contrary to Heb. 7:22 and 8:8, for the old covenant also promised glory.


1. It is useless to require men to repent and believe in the Gospel if these things are promised. Reply. The law that has been given to man demands faith and repentance. The Gospel says, “I will give you what the law demands.”

2. A condition is not a condition when he who prescribed it effects the condition in the one to whom He prescribed it. Reply. No condition remains for man to fulfill in his own strength, but the condition is from the law and a promise of the covenant.

Controversy 3 – Would Jesus Christ have been made man and come into the world if men had not sinned?  We deny against the Socinians and Scholastics.


1. He was only promised after the fall (Gen. 3:15), and He could not have been born of a virgin except in virtue of the promise.

2. Those who are well have no need of a physician (Mt. 9:13). He only came to save sinners (2 Tim. 1:15).

3. He has been sent on the basis of the love of God toward fallen man (Jn. 3:16), which could not exist in that case. [That is, He would not have had compassion on fallen man, if man had not fallen. This compassion and love for fallen man is given as the reason for the Father sending the Son.]

4. It would not have been necessary for God to be man; therefore, He would have come in vain.

5. Nor would humanity have had any obligation (obligatio) to Him as incarnate.


1. Christ is the firstborn of all creatures (Col. 1:15).  Reply. ‘Firstborn’ means generated from eternity before all creatures.

2. In all things, He is preeminent (primus) (v. 19).  Reply. In dignity and position.

3. All things have been created in Him (meaning “on account of Him”).  Reply.  All things have been created on account of Him as God not as man.

4. Then we have not been made on account of Christ, but He was made on account of us.  Reply.  Yes, as man.  Objection.  Then we should be given thanks since it is on account of us.  Reply.  That’s ridiculous.”




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