Now this is the way in which he has attacked Pelagicus. It is in all respects the opposite. Now Church – historically – I can now tell you that this never was completely accepted by the Church. Of course Augustine was considered to be the greatest of the Church teachers, but he was not fully accepted. Pelagianism was rejected and even semi-Pelagianism, which crept up a hundred years later, was rejected. But the rejection didn’t change the fact that it crept into the Church. Some historians who like additional Greek words have called it crypto-semi-Pelagianism, hidden, underground, spying, so to speak going into the Church half-officially, half-unofficially. And you cannot deny that especially in the Augustinian school, in the later Franciscans, we have semi-Pelagianism very much. No one would repeat Pelagicus in the official Church: that was out of the question. But half-Pelagianism, taking away the irrestability of grace, the necessity that we work in order to keep grace, and things like that; or restriction in terms of predestination and salvation- all this crept into the Church and made the doctrine of Augustine educationally possible. I talked about this before, and this is always a problem: you cannot have such a doctrine if you at the same time are an institution of education; and the only institution of education for a thousand years was the Christian Church. In such a situation you must appeal to the free will of those who are educated, and such an extreme doctrine cannot be presented in a direct way to most people. So the ultimate tragic element did not get lost, but it kept down to a certain extent for the sake of the educational element. This was the situation when the Reformers came in. When they came, the tragic element was reduced almost to nothing, by something else, namely, the educational, ethical, and ascetic element, and the Church lived in these things all the time. The churches are usually, with some exceptions, suspicious, very suspicious, of any doctrine of predestination – at least the Catholic church was.. ..because that makes the ultimate religion to God independent of the Church, or at least it tends to do so, and actually very often did.

So we have here one of those tensions of which I spoke, in connection with Origen and other theologians, he tension between the ultimate theological, and the pre- ultimate, preliminary, educational point of view. And this is the tension you will experience in every hour of religious instruction – you always have these two elements: you will have it in counseling, you will have it in preaching. And the great struggle between Augustine and Pelagicus is perhaps the classical example of the problem in the Christian Church.

Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought – Table of Contents