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The Bondage of the Will

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Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.


The Bondage of the Will

Luther, the Pastor: Ephesians 3:17

De Servo Arbitrio or The Bound Will


I. The Circumstances under which it was written

A. Originally, Luther and Erasmus were buddies.

1. Erasmus pressed to reform the church's financial and intellectual follies.

2. Diatribe on The Freedom of the Will - Erasmus comes out against Luther (Erasmus's friends did not approve)

B. Events of 1525 Luther was a busy man and he was distracted by much before refuting Erasmus

1. January 1525 - Book against Carlshdat

2. Next, Luther had to put together his lectures on Deuteronomy so that the printers do not take a hit.

3. Later this year, Peasants Revolt in Wittenburg

4. Luther also gets married this year.

C. Pastors call for Luther's response

D. The writing and publishing of The Bondage of the Will


II. The Rhetoric of the Exchange

A. Erasmus calls for prudence.

B. Luther insists on assertion. As a Christian it is our job to assert

Discuss pgs 66-67, 69 of The Bondage of the Will

1. Highest virtue for Erasmus "being nice." Merges piety and Epicureanism. We can recognize the goodness of God in Nature. Philosophy of Christ.

2. Luther: we cannot be pious on our own and this leads to the cross.

C. The analysis of Marjorie O'Rourke Boyle claims you have to understand the differences between these is because of the points of rhetoric


III. The Issues with Respect to the Will, or Four Mistakes if You Don't Follow Luther.

A. Paul in 1 Corinthians: Not the wisdom of humanity but the wisdom of God

1. Freewill

a. 137 Erasmus defines free will as possibility

b. Luther: free will does not grant possibility but the Gospel which comes to us and allows us to choose God. Romans 3.

2. Freewill defends the honor of God

a. Erasmus: Freewill is necessary, otherwise, God becomes the author of sin

b. Luther: In things below you, you are free. In respect to things above this is not the case. Divine freedom implies human necessity

B. Freewill keeps God from being a puppet-master

Luther: ultimately God is not a puppet-master but in the life of faith one responds.

C. Freewill allows us to use Scripture properly

1. Erasmus: Much scripture says to turn to God

2. Luther: Obligation does not equate with ability, the statement of one who is truly liberated, "I confess my bondage to sin and dependence on God."


Theology of glory begins with freewill and binds us to our choices.

Theology of the cross, however, assumes bondage and moves to freedom

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