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 ‘Discussion: Third Part’ by reading Sections 135 to 142.

My summary

Today Luther begins his third section of the book which will give his best proofs against free will from the writings of Paul and John.

This week Luther starts to examine Paul’s writings.

Luther’s main objective is to prove that there is no one righteous, Jew or Gentile, and therefore there is no free will.  He uses the following texts:  Romans 1:18, 21, 2:27-29, 3:9.

Luther also answers the objection that ‘thought he will be gone out of the way, and the reason be ignorant, as to the perfection of the act, yet the will can make some attempt, and the reason can attain to some knowledge by its own powers; seeing that, we can attempt many things which we cannot perfect; and we are here speaking, of the existence of a power, not of the perfection of the act.’

What grabbed me

Luther was very clear today that all men are unrighteous: ‘How then can they endeavour toward good, who are all, without exception, ignorant of God, and neither regard nor seek after God? How can they have a power able to attain unto good, who all, without exception, decline from good and become utterly unprofitable? Are not the words most clear? And do they not declare this, — that all men are ignorant of God and despise God, and then, turn unto evil and become unprofitable unto good? For Paul is not here speaking of the ignorance of seeking food, or the contempt of money, but of the ignorance and contempt of religion and of godliness. And that ignorance and contempt, most undoubtedly, are not in the “flesh,” that is, (as you interpret it,) ‘the inferior and grosser affections,’ but in the most exalted and most noble powers of man, in which, righteousness, godliness, the knowledge and reverence of God, ought to reign; that is, in the reason and in the will; and thus, in the very power of “Free-will,” in the very seed of good, in that which is the most excellent in man! ‘

Paul is clear and so Luther is clear – no one has free will.

Next week’s reading

Continue the ‘Discussion: Third Part’ by reading Sections 143 to 147.

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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