A review of The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

A great answer to the libertarian idea of free will. Most of the western church today could do with reading this book. Luther masterfully challenges and topples libertarian free will as defended by Erasmus in his Diatribe. Some may be surprised at Luther’s bluntness, and often sharp tone (eg. “But if the Diatribe has enjoyed itself by trifling on such a vital matter, then let me too enjoy myself by publicly exposing its wilful stupidities”[269]); but Luther considered the debate on free will to be central to the Christian faith, he writes; “If we know nothing of these things, we shall know nothing whatsoever of Christianity, and shall be in worse case than any people on earth!… We need, therefore, to have in mind a clear-cut distinction between God’s power and ours, and God’s work and ours, if we would live a godly life” (78). Luther’s understanding of the ‘freedom’ of the will can be seen in this statement “Wherefore, ‘free-will’ is nothing but the slave of sin, death and Satan, not doing anything, nor able to do or attempt anything, but evil!” (301)

In the process of answering Erasmus’ Diatribe Luther masterfully rips apart the case for free will scripturally as well as philosophically, he then goes on–at the end of the book–to present the scriptural argument for his position; that of the total bondage of the will to sin before grace. This book is a wonderful defence of the doctrine of Total Depravity.

This book gets a rating of 5/5

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