THE WOMAN BEHIND LUTHER’S ‘DE SERVO ARBITRIO’
Most Protestants are familiar with Martin Luther’s, The Bondage of the Will. In it, Luther issues a passionate and theologically robust response to Erasmus’s defense of synergistic salvation. In typical Luther fashion, Luther gets right to the heart of a gospel of grace and upholds the sovereignty of God alone in salvation. Does God “work alone” to effect our salvation? Or, does He “work together” with us? The subject of the debate is as relevant to the church today as it was then.
But did you know that if it weren’t for Katie, (Katharina Von Bora Luther) we probably wouldn’t have The Bondage of the Will? The Luther’s had been married only a few months when Erasmus published his diatribe against sovereign grace. Luther doesn’t seem too compelled to respond — maybe it has something to do with the fact that Erasmus put forth a half-hearted work, himself pressured by outside influences. But his new bride doesn’t letup. She stays on him for almost a year. Finally, he acquiesces and fires off a response in a few weeks. The result is one of Christianity’s most important works.
In the first months of their marriage, when she insisted that her husband could not leave Erasmus unanswered, she had been pushed into the forefront by Camerarius, as we know. Camerarius was driven by objective reasons. The diatribe that Erasmus had published was the Humanists’ declaration of war on the Reformer. And with the prominence of both men, the battle had to be taken up and fought until there was an honorable accord or one of the combatants was defeated. Katie maybe had little understanding of such deliberations, but she understood that the opponents could easily see her husband’s stubborn silence as conceding defeat—a concern which Luther himself shared otherwise—and she didn’t stop assailing him with urgent pleas until, after he had indignantly procrastinated almost a year, he finally overcame his reluctance and wrote his reply in a few weeks.
We owe Martin Luther a tremendous debt for defending the faith, but hats off to Katie for staying on her man! And if you are a husband, what does this little historical anecdote teach you? Listen to your wife! She knows things. smile emoticon
By Christina (Heavenly Springs)