Forgotten Framework for Freedom from Faustus of France

Semi-Pelagianism has been predominately associated with the 5th century Gallic monasticism of John Cassian, and to a lesser degree, Vincent of Lérins. Scarcely known is Faustus of Riez, who was abbot of Lérins in 433 A.D., bishop of Riez (460), oversaw the councils of Arles (473) and Lyons (474), and whose work was the footing for the Second Council of Orange (529). Faustus is hardly known in contemporary discourse, most likely due to the fact that his work has remained in Latin and not yet brought over into English. For those who know him, they may find agreement with Rebecca Harden Weaver’s claim that “In Faustus’s De gratia the Semi-Pelagians’ position had reached its fullest expression.” While De Gratia is the clearest theological treatise on 5th century Gallic ordo salutis, it is not Semi-Pelagian.

In this paper, I argue that analyzing and clarifying Faustus’s positions from De Gratia should result in seeing the Second Council of Orange (529 A.D.) as rejecting something other than Semi-Pelagianism. First, I describe Faustus and the role he played in 5th century councils contra predestinarianism, including the presentation of unpublished translations of Latin letters into English. Then, I describe in fuller detail Faustus’s anthropological model of human freedom and the prima gratia. Finally, in light of Faustus’s framework, I provide brief historical background and argue that the canons of the Second Council of Orange of 529 A.D. do not accurately describe Faustus’s position. In order to make sense of those canons, two alternative considerations are proposed.

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