Book Review: On The Bondage Of The Will

On The Bondage Of The Will by Martin Luther“On the Bondage of the Will” was first published by Martin Luther in December 1525. It was written as a reply to Desiderius Erasmus’ book called “On Free Will”.  Erasmus’ book was a public attack on Luther in the topic of free will.

Luther writes the book to Erasmus and addresses him by name as if the reader is a voyeur in a dialog between two intellectuals.  In a sweet tone Luther often refers to Erasmus as Friend Erasmus, while he rips him apart.

Luther vigorously affirms that Scripture undoubtedly teaches that man’s "salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another – God alone."

Luther’s hypothesis is as vital now as it was half a millennium ago.  This is because human nature is defined by the tendency to stress its own autonomy outside of God. Regrettably, this is as true of Christians as it is of non-Christians.

Luther addresses the objections brought by Erasmus, gently considering each verse of Scripture that Erasmus uses, and showing the random character of his interpretation. He considers the arguments that Erasmus makes from "human reason", and considers other texts of the Bible that clearly teach the bondage of the will.

Luther’s tone may seem odd to modern readers. We must not forget that he was answering a point where he knew that the very essence of the gospel was at stake.

This is a complex topic written in a digestible manner.