A Jagged Contention: Free Will


“But if we are unwilling to let this term go altogether – though that would be the safest and most God-fearing things to do – let us at least teach men to use it honestly, so that free choice is allowed to man only with respect to what is beneath and not what is above him. That is to say, a man should know with regard to his faculties and possessions he has the right to use, to do, or to leave undone, according to his own free choice, though even this is controlled by the free choice of God alone, who acts in whatever way he pleases. On the other hand in relation to God, or in matters pertaining to salvation or damnation, a man has no free choice, but is a captive, subject and slave either of the will of God or the will of Satan.”

– Martin Luther, “The Bondage of The Will” (70)


Luther seems to argue that free will is something that does not exist, it is an empty title and nothing more. Even with regard to the things beneath us we are subject to the free choice of God alone. How crucial is the teaching of the bondage of the will to the work of the church today, both in the local congregation and in the mission field?

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