As the Roman culture changed and became more favorable for the Christians it seems that there was more time to reflect on the doctrines of the Faith. The Cappadocian fathers like Basil and the two men named Gregory were studying the Bible and arriving at a more complete understanding of the human nature of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit. This is a positive movement that is built upon an accurate understanding of the Bible.
At the same time, as the persecution has ended for the Christians in the empire, there has arisen out of the Church’s desire to remain faithful a form of legalism that has caused her to lose sight of the grace of God. Pelagius is the high point of this false teaching as he regards grace as nothing more than God giving man the will to chose between good and evil. With that grace man can determine his own destiny based only upon his decisions. Sin is not a substance therefore it cannot affect the soul of a man in any way, it is merely a bad decision that can be rectified by willing to do right the next time one is faced with a similar decision.
This is not the picture that is painted of man or sin or grace in the Bible. Augustine who had lead a reprobate life until the age of 32 was arrested by the grace of God at that time and radically changed. As he studied the Epistle to the Romans he saw a completely different definition of sin and grace.
Listen to the lesson and you will also get a bit of insight into the formation of Roman Catholicism as it began taking root at this time as well. I hope that you find this helpful as we learn a little more about the formation of the doctrines of the Church and rest assured that what we believe is derived from God’s Word alone.