Take for example Pelagianism, which was condemned as heresy at the Council of Carthage in 418 (disclaimer: I am not at all inclined to believe Pelagianism or attempting to discuss the specific doctrine, it's just the first example of heresy I thought of).

As I understand, the council was Catholic. Does this mean only Catholics necessarily regard Pelagianism as heretical? Do Protestant churches tend to agree with Catholic declarations of heresy, and/or vice versa? Have there been any Protestant declarations of heresy equivalent to the various Councils? I realize that's several questions but they kind of sum to the main question I've asked.

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    I think that, since the Roman Catholic Church regards itself as God's one and only true church (holy, catholic, apostolic from Peter on down, etc.), if they infallibly define a heresy it is a heresy for everyone everywhere regardless of human or denominational agreement. For instance, according to their definition I am an heretic while according to myself, I am not. Jul 11, 2023 at 12:27
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    @MikeBorden yeah it's the "according to yourself" part I'm asking about - in other words, if the Catholic Church says you're a heretic, who else apart from the Catholic Church will also think you're a heretic, if anyone? Jul 11, 2023 at 19:52
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    I think it would depend on which specific heresy is in view. Jul 12, 2023 at 12:34
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    It certainly depends on the specific heresy, as Mike says. All of the Apostolic Churches, and most non-apostolic denominations, reject Pelagianism, whereas the Apostolic Churches all reject sola fide, and most non-apostolic denominations do not. Furthermore, Apostolic Churches are split on the Papal Charism of Infallibility.
    – jaredad7
    Jul 27, 2023 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


An interesting aspect of collective agreement on a heretical belief is that both Catholics and Protestants agree on the anathemas pronounced against any teaching that said the Logos, Son of God, or Second Person of the Trinity had a starting point in time - was created, in other words. This goes way back to the Creed of Nicaea in A.D. 325 and continues to this day. Please note that the Council produced "the Creed of Nicaea" to distinguish it from "the Nicene Creed". The Creed of Nicaea contains the anathemas (curses) which identify what the heresy in question was, precisely:

"And those who say: 'There was a time when he [the only-begotten Son of God] was not', and: 'Before he was begotten he was not', and: 'He came into being from nothing', or those who pretend that the Son of God is 'Of another substance (hypostasis), or essence (ousia) [than the Father] or 'created' or 'alterable' or 'mutable', the catholic and apostolic church places under a curse." The History of Christianity, p. 159, Lion, 1977

That anathema against that particular heresy was produced 1700 years before the Protestant Reformation really got going, but right from its start, it had no quarrel with this Creed of Nicaea, so we have both Catholics and Protestants in agreement with that declaration of heresy, with no need for Protestants to reinvent the wheel by producing their own declaration.

Since the 1800s however, denominations have arisen that have disagreed with that, absorbing some, if not all, of the heresies on that topic from way back. There is even one group that denies being either Catholic or Protestant and which calls all religions other than itself satanic heresy. Only that small denomination thinks that. No others do. That would be to go off at a tangent, though.

It might be worth adding that there are also modern-day variations on the heresy of Pelagianism, yet not only Catholics continue to call it a heresy. It's just that modern-day 'waters' have become quite muddied as a few denominations imbibe some of those ancient heresies. In the main, however, there is a broad spectrum of agreement across the main Christian groups as to Pelagian (or similar) doctrines being heretical.

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    @jaredad7 - your correction to my inaccurate theological term greatly appreciated!
    – Anne
    Jul 28, 2023 at 12:41

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