Confession Of Faith
by William Wall
by Rev. Daniel R. Jennings, M.A.
417 Pelagius sent this statement of faith to Pope Innocent I along with a letter in which he attempted to prove that his doctrines were
not heretical.† By the time the letter
arrived Innocent had died and the letter fell into the hands of his successor, Zosimus.† Zosimus, after reading the letter and examining Pelagiusí
doctrinal statement, sent a letter to Augustine and other North African bishops
rebuking them for their treatment of Pelagius and stating that he found no
fault in the doctrines of Pelagius.
believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things, visible and invisible;
we believe also in the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all things were created; very
God, the only begotten, the true Son of God, not a made or adapted One, but
begotten; of one substance with the Father, which the Greeks express homousion; and in
such a manner equal in all things with the Father, that he cannot be
[accounted] inferior either in time, or degree, or power; and we acknowledge
him that is begotten to be of the same greatness as he is that begot him.
whereas we say the Son is begotten of
the Father, we do not ascribe any time to that divine and ineffable generation;
but do mean, that neither the Father nor the Son had any beginning; for we
cannot otherwise confess the Father to be eternal, unless we do also confess
the Son to be co-eternal; for he is called the
Father as having a Son; and he who ever was a Father, ever had a Son.
believe also in the Holy Spirit, very God, proceeding from the Father, equal in
all things with the Father and the Son, in power, in will, in eternity, in
substance. Neither is there any degree [or
graduation] in the Trinity, --nothing that can be called Superior or
Inferior, but the whole Deity is equal in its perfection; so that except the
words that signify the propriety of the persons, whatsoever is said of one
person, may very well be understood of all Three.
in confutation of Arius, we say that the substance of the Trinity is one and
the same, and do own one God in three Persons, so avoiding the impiety of Sabellius, we distinguish three Persons expressed by their
property, --not saying that the Father is a father to himself, nor the Son a
son to himself, nor the Holy Spirit the spirit of himself; but that there is
one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit;
for we acknowledge not only [several] names, but also properties of the names,
that is, Persons, or, as the Greeks express them, Hypostases; nor does the
Father at any time exclude the person of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit; nor
again does the Son, or the Holy Spirit, receive the name or person of the
Father; but the Father is always Father, the Son always Son, and the Holy
Spirit always Holy Spirit; so that they are in substance one thing, but are
distinguished by persons and by names.
say That this Son of God, who, with the father and the
Holy Spirit, inherited eternity without any beginning, did, in the end of the
world, take upon him, of Mary, who was always a virgin, perfect man of our
nature; and the Word was made flesh, by taking manhood to him, not by altering
do not say that the Holy Spirit was instead of seed, as a certain person does
most impiously hold [or as some very
impious persons hold]; but that he operated by the power and influence of
do in such a manner hold that there is in Christ one person of the Son, as that
we say there are in him two perfect and entire substances [or natures] viz. of the Godhead, and of the Manhood, which consists
of body and soul.
we do condemn Photinus, who confesses in Christ only
a mere man, --so we do anathematize Apollinarius, and
all of that sort, who say that the Son of God did take on him any thing less
than the whole human nature; and that the man [or manhood] which was assumed, was either in body, or in soul, or
in mind, unlike to those for whose sake it was assumed; whom we do hold to have
been like unto us, saving only the stain of sin, which is not natural to us.
also abhor in like manner the blasphemy of those who go about by a new
interpretation to maintain, that since the time of his taking flesh, all things
pertaining to the divine nature did pass into the man [or manhood] and so also that all things belonging to the human
nature were transferred into God [or the
diving nature]. From whence would follow (a thing that no heresy ever
offered to affirm) that both substances [or
natures] viz. of the divinity and the humanity, would by this confusion
seem to be extinguished, and to lose their proper state, and be changed into
another thing; so that they who own in the Son an imperfect God and an
imperfect man, are to be accounted not to hold truly either God or man.
do hold that our nature, capable of suffering, was so assumed by the Son of
God, as that the divinity did remain incapable of suffering; for the Son of God
suffered (not in appearance only, but really) all those things which the
Scripture speaks of, i.e. hunger,
thirst, weariness, pain, death, and the like; but he suffered in that nature
which was capable of suffering, i.e.
not in that nature which did assume, but in that which was assumed; for the Son
of God is, in respect of his Godhead, incapable of suffering as the Father;
incomprehensible as the Father; invisible as the Father; --and though the
proper Person of the Son, that is, the Word of God, did take on him humanity
capable of suffering, yet the Godhead of the WORD, in its own nature, did not
suffer any thing by the inhabiting of the humanity, as did not the whole
Trinity, which we must of necessity confess to be incapable of suffering. The
Son of God, therefore, died, according to the Scriptures, in respect of that
which was capable of dying.
third day he rose again: he ascended into Heaven: he sits on the right hand of
God the Father; the same nature of flesh still remaining in which he was born,
and suffered, in which also he rose again; for the nature of his humanity is
not extinguished, but is glorified, being to continue for ever with the
therefore, received of the Father the power of all things in Heaven and Earth,
he will come to judge the living and dead, --that he may reward the just, and
punish the sinners.
also believe the resurrection of the flesh, in such a manner as to say that we
shall be restored again in the same truth of our limbs in which we are now; and
that we shall for ever remain such as we shall be once made after the
there is one life for the saints, but rewards different according to their
labor; as on the other side the punishments of wicked men shall be according to
the measure of their sins.
one baptism, which we say ought to be
administered with the same sacramental words to infants as it is to elder
after baptism a man do fall, we believe he may be
recovered by repentance [or penance].
receive the Old and New Testament in the same number of books as the authority
of the Holy Catholic Church doth deliver.
believe that our souls are given by God, and we hold that they are made by him;
anathematizing those who say that souls are not, as it were, a part of the
substance of God. We do also condemn those who say that the souls have sinned
in a former state, or that they have lived in the celestial regions before they
were sent into bodies.
also abhor the blasphemy of those who say that any impossible thing is
commanded to man by God; or that the commandments of God cannot be performed by
any one man, but that by all men taken together they may: or that do condemn
first marriages in compliance with Manichaeus, or
second marriages1 in
compliance with the Montanists.
do anathematize those who say that the Son of God did tell lies by necessity of
the flesh; and that, because of the human nature which he had taken on him, he could not do all things that he would.
also condemn the heresy of Jovinian, who says that in
the life to come there will be no difference of merits [or rewards]; and that we shall there have virtues [or graces] which we took no care to have
we do so own, as to say that we always stand in need of Godís help; and that as
well they are in an error who say with Manichaeus
that a man cannot avoid sin, as they who affirm with Jovinian
that a man cannot sin; for both of these take away the freedom of the will. But
we say that a man always is in a state that he may sin, or may not sin, so as
to own ourselves always to be of a free-will.
is, most blessed Pope, our faith which we have learned in the Catholic Church, and
have always held; in which, if there be any thing that is, perhaps, unwarily or
unskillfully expected, we desire it may be amended by you, who do hold both the
faith and the see of Peter. And if our confession be approved by the judgment
of your apostleship, then whoever shall have a mind to find fault with me will
show, not me to be a heretic, but himself unskillful or spiteful, or even no
1. The Montanists were a heretical sect who did not allow a second
marriage for a person who had been widowed, which contradicted 1Timothy 5:14.
Pelagiusí statement here has nothing do with divorce and remarriage and should not in any way be used to assume
that he sanctioned divorce and remarriage. See the Montanist
writer Tertullianís explanation of this in his On Monogamy, Ch. 9 and 14.