Council of Orange (529)

The Second Council of Orange (or Second Synod of Orange) was held in 529 at Orange, 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.

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.

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 influenced the interpretation of Augustine in the later medieval Western Church, such as by Thomas Aquinas. Classical Protestantism affirms the theology of the Second Council of Orange and has appealed to its conclusions to make a case that the Lutheran and Calvinist doctrines of sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and original sin as total depravity had already been taught much earlier than the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. 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.