This article is part 2 of 6 in the series Book Club: Luther's Bondage of the Will

Required reading

The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther, preferably the version translated by Henry Cole (Available from the Wandering Bookseller or free here) – Read ‘Erasmus’ Scepticism’ and ‘The necessity of knowing God and his power’.

My summary

Firstly today Luther attacks Erasmus’ skepticism, particularly for viewing the church decrees as equal in authority with the Scriptures.

Secondly Luther discusses the ramifications of Erasmus’ claims of a distinction between the Christian doctrines and ‘pretending’ that some are necessary and some not necessary.

Thirdly Luther begins to look at Erasmus’ teaching that there is an ability in us (free will) to obtain the mercy of God.

Fourthly Luther examines Erasmus’ connection between God’s foreknowledge and free will.

What grabbed me

Luther made a good point about the danger of asserting that most of Scripture is difficult to comprehend: ‘But, that there are in the Scriptures some things abstruse, and that all things are not quite plain, is a report spread abroad by the impious Sophists by whose mouth you speak here, Erasmus. But they never have produced, nor ever can produce, one article whereby to prove this their madness. And it is with such scare-crows that Satan has frightened away men from reading the Sacred Writings, and has rendered the Holy Scripture contemptible, that he might cause his poisons of philosophy to prevail in the church. This indeed I confess, that there are many places in the Scriptures obscure and abstruse; not from the majesty of the thing, but from our ignorance of certain terms and grammatical particulars; but which do not prevent a knowledge of all the things in the Scriptures. For what thing of more importance can remain hidden in the Scriptures, now that the seals are broken, the stone rolled from the door of the sepulchre, and that greatest of all mysteries brought to light, Christ made man: that God is Trinity and Unity: that Christ suffered for us, and will reign to all eternity? Are not these things known and proclaimed even in our streets? Take Christ out of the Scriptures, and what will you find remaining in them?’

If you want to boost your own authority, start claiming that the Bible is incomprehensible.

Next week’s reading

Commence ‘The sovereignty of God’ by reading sections 9 to 19.

Now it’s your turn

Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


Posts in this Book Club Series:

  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 1
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 2
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 3
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 4
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 5
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 6