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) – Commence ‘The sovereignty of God’ by reading Sections 9 to 19.

My summary

Today we start a chapter on the sovereignty of God.

Luther states his purpose of the section at the beginning of the chapter: ‘THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, “Free-will” is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert “Free-will,” must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.’

Luther then discusses the will of God and declares it immutable and infallible.

He then spends time discussing the arguments of the Sophists and Erasmus’ interaction with them.  Erasmus basically suggests that a discussion of God’s will is not for everyone to hear.

What grabbed me

The arrogance of Erasmus was shown in his discrimination of who gets to consider the will of God:
‘You add, moreover, the example of Paul, who makes a distinction between those things that are lawful, and those that are not expedient. “It is lawful (you say) to speak the truth; but, before every one, at all times, and in every way, it is not expedient.” — 

How copious an orator! And yet you understand nothing of what you are saying. In a word, you treat this discussion, as though it were some matter between you and me only, about the recovering of some money that was at stake, or some other trivial thing, the loss of which, as being of much less consideration than the general peace of the community, ought not so to concern any one, but that he may yield, act and suffer upon the occasion, in any way that may prevent the necessity of the whole world being thrown into a tumult. Wherein, you plainly evince, that this peace and tranquillity of the flesh, are, with you, a matter of far greater consideration than faith, than conscience, than salvation, than the Word of God, than the glory of Christ, than God Himself! Wherefore, let me tell you this; and I entreat you to let it sink deep into your mind — I am, in this discussion, seeking an object solemn and essential; nay, such, and so great, that it ought to be maintained and defended through death itself; and that, although the whole world should not only be thrown into tumult and set in arms thereby, but even if it should be hurled into chaos and reduced to nothing. — If you cannot receive this, or if you are not affected by it, do you mind your own business, and allow us to receive it and to be affected by it, to whom it is given of God.’

The will of God is indeed a weighty matter, but a matter worthy of consideration by all.

Next week’s reading

Conclude ‘The sovereignty of God’.

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
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 7
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 8
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 9
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 10
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 11
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 12
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 13
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 14
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 15
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 16
  • TOG Book Club: Luther’s Bondage of the Will – Part 17