What is Semi-Pelagianism?

Question
What is Semi-Pelagianism?
Answer
Semi-Pelaganism is a toned down version of the Pelagian heresy. Both theological systems are biblically incorrect; though they differ at the atomic level, a direct hit by a thermonuclear bomb or a fission bomb results in the same result - death. Both theological systems present s false view of Scripture.

Semi-Pelagianism basically teaches partial depravity as opposed to total depravity. It claims humanity can cooperate with God's grace. It disagrees with the biblical order of salvation - (1) election, (2) effectual calling, (3) regeneration, (4) faith, (5) repentance, (6) justification, (7) adoption, (8) sanctification, (9) perseverance, and (10) glorification (Rom 8:29-30) - placing (4) faith and (5) repentance, prior to (3) regeneration.

However, man is more than sick in trespasses and sin, he is dead (Eph 2:1). As a former homicide detective and meaning no disrespect, I can definitively say that I've never had a corpse get up assist me in an investigation. Spiritually Dead people cannot assist God in their salvation any more than the dead could rise up and help me with their murder investigation. New life (regeneration) must first enter before a person can believe and repent. As Jesus says, "You must be born again" (John 3:1-8).

God is the Potter and we are his clay (Isa 64:8; cf. Isa 45:9; Rom 9:20-21). God is at work in his people "for his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). The elect are not born again because they believe; rather, they believe because they have been born again (1 John 5:1). The new birth (John 3:1-8), faith (2 Pet. 1:1; cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; John 3:27; 6:65; 1 Cor 3:6; 4:7; Rom 12:3), and repentance (2 Tim 2:25; cf. Acts 5:31; 11:18) are all free gifts of a loving and merciful God.

Like it's nuclear brother, Semi-Pelagianism devalues Christ's power in salvation, thinking the spiritually dead sinner must aid the sovereign God of the universe or he can do nothing. But, Christ died upon the Cross not simply to make salvation a possibility, but to actually save those he died for. He actually died to save them, not merely to make them savable. Christ literally became incarnate to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21). The Bible explicitly teaches that Christ would see his sacrifice and be satisfied knowing that it would actually save his people (Isa 53:11). As J.I. Packer states, "Christ did not win a hypothetical salvation for hypothetical believers, a mere possibility of salvation for any who might possibly believe, but a real salvation for his own chosen people." See Isaiah 53:8, 12; John 6:37-40; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 2:13-14; Revelation 5:9.

Despite all the heresies in the early church (among them, Adoptionism, Albigenses, Apollinarianism, Arianism, Docetism, Ebionism, Gnosticism, Kenosis, Marcionism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Patripassionism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Socinianism, Subordinationism, and Tritheism, etc.) the Word of God still abides (1 Pet 1:23). Amidst all these assaults against God and his church by numerous false religions, the church has grown stronger, not weaker. In many ways, the church should be thankful for the gift of opposition!

Related Topics:

Christological Heresies?
What is Adoptionism?
What is Albigenses?
What is Apollinarianism?
What is Arianism?
What is Docetism?
What is Ebionism?
What is Gnosticism?
What is Kenosis?
What is Marcionism?
What is Modalism?
What is Monarchianism?
What is Monophysitism?
What is Nestorianism?
What is Patripassionism?
What is Pelagianism?
What is Socinianism?
What is Subordinationism?
What is Tritheism?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).