LUTHER, ERASMUS AND ‘THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL’

Bondage of the will 6

LUTHER, ERASMUS AND  ‘THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL’

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Bondage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

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