Council of Orange (529)

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The Second Council of Orange (or Second Synod of Orange) was held in 529 at Orange (civitas Arausicae), which was then part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. It affirmed much of the theology of Augustine of Hippo, and made numerous proclamations against what later would come to be known as semi-Pelagian doctrine.

Questions regarding Pelagianism[edit]


Pelagian theology was condemned at the (non-ecumenical) 418 Council of Carthage,[1] and these condemnations were ratified at the ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. After that time, a more moderate form of Pelagianism persisted which claimed that man's faith was an act of free will unassisted by previous internal grace. On 3 July 529 a synod took place at Orange. The occasion was the dedication of a church built at Orange by Liberius (praetorian prefect) of Narbonensian Gaul. It was attended by fourteen bishops under the presidency of Caesarius of Arles.

Bishops participating[edit]

  • Caesarius of Arles
  • Julianus Amartolus (Bishop of Carpentras)
  • Constantius (Bishop of Gap)
  • Cyprianus (Bishop of Toulon)
  • Eucherius (Bishop of Avignon)
  • Eucherius
  • Heraclius (Bishop of Saint-Paul-trois-Châteaux)
  • Principius
  • Philagrius (Bishop of Cavaillon)
  • Maximus
  • Praetextatus (Bishop of Apt)
  • Alethius (Bishop of Vaison)
  • Lupercianus (Bishop of Fréjus)
  • Vindemialis (Bishop of Orange)

Conclusions of the Council[edit]

The question at hand was whether a moderate form of Pelagianism could be affirmed, or if the doctrines of Augustine were to be affirmed. The determination of the council could be considered "semi-Augustinian".[2][3] It defined that faith, though a free act of man, resulted, even in its beginnings, from the grace of God, enlightening the human mind and enabling belief.[4][5][6] However, it also explicitly denied double predestination (of the equal-ultimacy variety), stating, "We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema." The document links grace with baptism, which was not a controversial subject at the time. It received papal approbation under Pope Felix IV.[7]


The canons of the Second Council seem to have been lost in the tenth century, then recovered and consequently published in 1543. Nonetheless, the teachings of the Council, which followed closely those of Augustine, continued to be adhered to by later medieval scholars, not least of which Thomas Aquinas. The 'Capitula' of Felix IV, on which the Council's 'Capitula' were based, were freely used by the Council of Trent in its condemnation of Luther. Certain Classical Protestants affirm the theology of the Second Council of Orange. However, the concessions it makes of a weakened free will which cooperates with God's Grace is inconsistent with Luther (see Assertio, Article 36) or Calvin determinism and Calvin double-predestination. Arminian theologians[8][9] also consider the Council of Orange historically significant in that it strongly affirmed the necessity of prevenient grace and yet did not present divine grace as irresistible, deny the free will of the unregenerate to repent in faith, or endorse a strictly Augustinian view of predestination.


  1. ^ Reese, William L (1980), Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, Humanities Press, p. 421.
  2. ^ Oakley, Francis (Jan 1, 1988), The Medieval Experience: Foundations of Western Cultural Singularity, University of Toronto Press, p. 64.
  3. ^ Thorsen, Don (2007), An Exploration of Christian Theology, Baker Books, 20.3.4.
  4. ^ Cf. Second Council of Orange ch.5-7; H. J. Denzinger Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum, 375-377
  5. ^ Pickar, C. H. (1981) [1967]. "Faith". The New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Washington D.C. p. 797.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  7. ^ "Councils of Orange | Christian synods".
  8. ^ "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities", By Roger E. Olson (InterVarsity Press, Aug 20, 2009), Page 81
  9. ^ "Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace", By Keith D. Stanglin, Thomas H. McCall (Oxford University Press, Nov 15, 2012), page 153


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