Volume 54, Issue 2, December 2014
Augustine’s changing Thought on Sinlessness
This article explores Augustine’s response to the Pelagians who claimed that if one truly desired to be sinless, one could be. The standard scholarly view, as articulated by Gerald Bonner, was that Augustine’s thought during the Pelagian controversy did not change over time. However, Augustine’s thoughts on sinlessness changed over a very brief period of time. He initially admits the possibility that, through grace, some may not have sinned (in De peccatorum meritis et remissione et De baptismo parvulorum); he later retracts this view (in De perfectione iustitiae hominis), only to assert in De gestis Pelagii that he unsure. Finally, he returns to his original position (citing the canons of the Council of Carthage of 418, and arguing that all have sinned).