This is a somewhat moderate form of Pelagianism. Whereas in Pelagianism, there is the understanding that humans must live moral and superior lives in order to receive salvation, in classic Semi-Pelagianism, there is the belief that it is impossible to live sinless lives. Therefore, the only way that people can receive salvation is through God*s grace alone. However, there is a catch! In order for humans to receive this grace, they must first turn to God and ask for it. God*s grace, forgiveness, and salvation can be given only to those who seek God and petition God for it. Salvation is dependent solely on the strength of our faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, salvation both in semi-Pelagianism and in Pelagianism is based first and foremost on human initiative. We must do something first before God "saves" us.

This position became the official Roman Catholic understanding of salvation at the beginning of the Middle Ages. Though the Protestant reformers rejected it, it managed to infiltrate Protestant theology after the Enlightenment. The Great Awakening and other revival movements in American history have made this position particularly popular in Protestant Christianity in America. Today, practically all Christian denominations who label themselves "evangelicals," and some Christians of other denominations as well, officially adopt a Semi-Pelagian understanding of salvation.

Key Texts:

John 3:18

18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 6:40

40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.

Acts 2:21

21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

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