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) – Continue the ‘Discussion: Second Part’ by reading sections 98 to 110.

My summary

Firstly this week, Luther looks at Erasmus’ explanations of Paul’s comments about Jacob and Esau in Romans 9.  Erasmus claims: ‘THIS place the Diatribe evades by saying — ‘that it does not properly pertain to the salvation of man. For God (it says) may will that a man shall be a servant, or a poor man; and yet, not reject him from eternal salvation.’‘  Luther explains that Erasmus is basically trying to minimise the force of the text’s claim that Esau is among the reprobate from the womb.

Secondly Luther provides similar comments on Erasmus’ thoughts about Paul’s illustration of the potter in Romans 9, which also draws on Isaiah and Jeremiah: ‘THE next passage which the Diatribe takes up is that of Isaiah xlv. 9, “Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, what makest Thou?” And that of Jeremiah xviii. 6, “Behold as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand.” Here the Diatribe says again — “these passages are made to have more force in Paul, than they have in the places of the prophets from which they are taken; because, in the prophets they speak of temporal affliction, but Paul uses them, with reference to eternal election and reprobation.” — So that, here again, temerity or ignorance in Paul, is insinuated. ‘

What grabbed me

Luther gave quite a few good examples of God’s foreknowledge demonstrating God’s predetermination: ‘For example: The necessity of the consequence is, (so to set it forth,) God foreknows that Judas will be a traitor — therefore it will certainly and infallibly come to pass, that Judas shall be a traitor. Against this necessity of the consequence, you comfort yourself thus: — But since Judas can change his willing to betray, therefore, there is no necessity of the thing consequent. How, I ask you, will these two positions harmonize, Judas is able to will not to betray, and, Judas must of necessity will to betray? Do not these two directly contradict and militate against each other? But he will not be compelled, you say, to betray against his will. What is that to the purpose? You were speaking of the necessity of the thing consequent; and saying, that that need not, of necessity, follow, from the necessity of the consequence; you were not speaking of the compulsive necessity of the thing consequent. The question was, concerning the necessity of the thing consequent, and you produce an example concerning the compulsive necessity of the thing consequent. I ask one thing, and you answer another. But this arises from that yawning sleepiness, under which you do not observe, what nothingness that figment amounts to, concerning the necessity of the thing consequent.’

If God knew that Judas was to betray Christ, then Judas had to betray Christ.

Next week’s reading

Continue the ‘Discussion: Second Part’ by reading sections 98 to 110.

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

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