Pristine Grace

The Bondage Book Report!
by Eileen Beckett
The Bondage Book Report!

I had never read The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther and so I have started that book and am thrilled by the very first chapters. I’m into chapter two which begins the meat of Luther’s response to Erasmus. So occasionally I will post a thing or two on this great book.

I did a very brief study on Erasmus and his view on free-will that he taught in his treatise On the Freedom of the Will which prompted Luther’s writing of The Bondage.

In summary:

Erasmus defines free will as “a power of the human will by which a man can apply himself to the things which lead to eternal salvation or turn away from them”, a synergistic view of salvation. (the doctrine that human effort cooperates with divine grace in the salvation of the soul.) 

He has said the following; ”Because of the fall, the will is ‘inclined’ to evil, but can still do good’ and ‘Not only does the human will have power, although a little power, but the will has power by which a man merits salvation”.

He believed that free will was necessary for there to be sin, there were 3 graces of God, the first being that all men have a measure of grace implanted by God, the second is the peculiar grace that arouses a sinner to repent and then becomes a ‘candidate’ for the highest grace which is saving grace only for those then who come by their free-will. He calls grace an ‘advisor’, ‘helper’ and ‘architect’ and so alludes to his idea that man’s free-will is aided by God’s grace.

Well, that was enough for me, although I’m sure it would be very beneficial to read all of Erasmus’ treatise. It did give me a greater knowledge of why Martin Luther wrote his The Bondage of the Willand the importance of it, even to us today. The issues of that day still abound.

In the first part of Chapter II the response to Erasmus is entitled “Of the necessity of Assertions in Christianity”. Erasmus had written that he found no satisfaction in assertions and Luther defined assertions as ‘staunchly holding your ground, stating it, confessing it, defending it and persevering in it”, I found that encouraging. These are not assertions based on our own opinions, the opinions of man, or on doubtful or unprofitable matters, but on the Scriptures and what the Spirit teaches us, in other words, the Truth. Luther went on to say: “Let us have men who will assert just as the Apostle Paul and how often does he call for that ‘full assurance’, which is, simply, an assertion of conscience, of the highest degree of certainty and conviction.”

Luther refutes the idea (that is still prevalent) that we mustn’t look into all of the scriptures and try and understand them but instead says “for uncertainty is the most miserable thing in all the world” and so he refutes ‘paradox’ theology. I loved his statement to Erasmus “leave us free to make assertions, and to find in assertions our satisfaction and delight”as we take great delight in the Truth of the Word and I’m thankful for the boldness the Lord gave to Martin Luther.