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 111 to 122.

My summary

Luther now refutes Erasmus’ own responses to passages cited by Luther against free will.  They focus primarily on the ability of the ‘flesh’.

The passages are:
(i) Genesis 6:3 ‘My Spirit shall not always remain in man; seeing that he is flesh’;
(ii) Genesis 8:21 ‘The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’;
(iii) Isaiah 40:2 ‘She hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins’;
(iv) Isaiah 40:6-7 ‘All flesh is grass, and all the glory of it as the flower of grass: the grass is withered, the flower of grass is fallen: because the Spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it’.

What grabbed me

I liked this response from Luther: ‘BUT as to the Diatribe disputing thus — “Although sin abound by the law, and where sin has abounded, grace much more abound; yet it does not therefore follow, that man, doing by God’s help what is pleasing to Him, cannot by works morally good, prepare himself for the favour of God.” —

Wonderful! Surely the Diatribe does not speak this out of its own head, but has taken it out of some paper or other, sent or received from another quarter, and inserted it in its book! For it certainly can neither see nor hear the meaning of these words! If sin abound by the law, how is it possible that a man can prepare himself by moral works, for the favour of God? How can works avail any thing, when the law avails nothing? Or, what else is it for sin to abound by the law, but for all the works, done according to the law, to become sins? — But of this elsewhere. But what does it mean when it says, that man, assisted by the help of God, can prepare himself by moral works? Are we here disputing concerning the divine assistance, or concerning “Free-will”? For what is not possible through the divine assistance? But the fact is, as I said before, the Diatribe cares nothing for the cause it has taken up, and therefore it snores and yawns forth such words as these.’

If God helps, even just a little, then we aren’t free.

Next week’s reading

Conclude the ‘Discussion: Second Part’.

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

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