A Jagged Contention: The Bound Will

“If we do not want to drop the term altogether—which would really be the safest and most Christian thing to do—we may still in good faith teach people to use it to credit man with ‘free-will’ in respect, not of what is above him, but of what is below him. That is to say, man should realize that in regard to his money and possessions he has a right to use them, to do or to leave undone, according to his own ‘free-will’—though that very ‘free-will’ is overruled by the free-will of God alone, according to His own pleasure. However, with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, he has no ‘free-will,’ but is captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.”

– Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J.I. Packer & O.R. Johnston. pg 107


What do you make of Luther’s distinction between humanity having a free will in regards to that which is “below” verses having no freed will towards what is “above?” What dangers arise when such a distinction is lost or confused? How should the message of humanity’s bound will be understood and proclaimed in light of the saving work of Christ?

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