This article is part 4 of 11 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) – Conclude ‘The sovereignty of God’.

My summary

Today we finish the chapter on the sovereignty of God.

Firstly Luther continues to defend the Word of God as over and above:
(i) popes;
(ii) councils.

Then Luther begins to teach further on the concept of free will.

We learn about God’s will, including reasons for his declaration of his sovereignty:
(ii) the humbling of our pride;
(iii) faith itself.

Luther also distinguishes between humans acting:
(i) necessarily;
(ii) compulsively;
(iii) responsively.

What grabbed me

I liked Luther’s statement about the humbling effect that knowledge of God’s sovereignty brings to the believer: ‘But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled, until he comes to know that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsel, endeavours, will, and works, and absolutely depending on the will, counsel, pleasure, and work of another, that is, of God only. For if, as long as he has any persuasion that he can do even the least thing himself towards his own salvation, he retain a confidence in himself and do not utterly despair in himself, so long he is not humbled before God; but he proposes to himself some place, some time, or some work, whereby he may at length attain unto salvation. But he who hesitates not to depend wholly upon the good-will of God, he totally despairs in himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such an one, is the nearest unto grace, that he might be saved.

A proud Calvinist should be an oxymoron.

Next week’s reading

Commence ‘Exordium’ by reading Sections 28 to 33.

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