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The Bondage of the Will

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  5,588 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
This classic helps us understand the doctrines of the Reformation. Luther was burdened to write on the sweet doctrine of God's sovereignty in all aspects of our lives. This book shows a humbling view of ourselves while strengthening our faith and causes us to cry out in adoration to God for His goodness and grace.
Paperback, 417 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Ambassador-Emerald International (first published 1525)
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Douglas Wilson
Apr 12, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Just great. Little pieces of Erasmus flying everywhere. Also read in June of 1988.

Désiré Érasme est une grande figure de l'humanisme : c'est un peu grâce à lui que j'ai commencé à lire, après que la biographie que Zweig lui a consacré me soit tombée dans les mains. J'ai apprécié son éloge de la folie, qui m'a attiré vers l'antiquité, et je me régale de ses Adages, qui ont été récemment réédités grâce à l'industrieuse érudition de nos savants. Luther, je le connais par la biographie rédigée par Michelet, et le personnage m'avait vivement intéressé. La question de la volonté li
Jay Miklovic
Mar 19, 2011 Jay Miklovic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was very difficult to get through because so much was packed in each sentence. While reading this book I found myself on a number of occasions reading less than a page in a sitting. With that said, this book was worth the effort.

Luther absolutely obliterates Erasmus, and he is anything but cordial in doing so. This book is laden with sarcasm, insult, and downright nastiness at times. This book is as intense as a polemic could be. While I typically tire of fundamentalist polemics, this
Paul Rhodes
Mar 30, 2008 Paul Rhodes rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To all Catholics who believe that the Reformation was all Rome's fault
Recommended to Paul by: A Random Internet Calvinist
In the chapter before the conclusion of On the Bondage of the Will, Luther belches out this rather shocking paragraph:

"Only observe, therefore, the simplicity of the words By the law is the knowledge of sin; and yet, these alone are of force sufficient to confound and overthrow Free-will altogether. For if it be true, that of itself, it knows not what is sin, and what is evil, as the apostle saith here, and Rom. vii. 7-8, I should not have known that concupiscence was sin, except the law had sai
Brent McCulley
Oct 05, 2013 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, favorites
An attractive unabridged translation of Martin Luther's magnum opus, "Bondage of the Will" stands out as a theological gemstone packaged into 250+ pages of Luther's diatribe at its best. Written as a response to the Catholic theologian Erasmus of Rotterdam's defense of freedom of the will, Luther sets out on one mission only: destroy any inclination of free-will. His weapon of choice? The scriptures alone, for they speaks for themselves; sharper than a double-edged sword, Luther smashes any effo ...more
Amber Standridge
Aug 30, 2011 Amber Standridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Excellent engagement with the various passages used by Erasmus to support the Catholic view of free will in salvation. Also, very helpful images throughout to explain the arguments. One image I found particularly helpful: Erasmus posited that God would not give man a command (for instance, to believe unto salvation) without also giving him the ability to comply. Luther counters with the image of a man who is bound from head to toe in chains but who believes himself unencumbered -- One might comm ...more
Michael Cunningham
Difficult at times, but highly rewarding. Must read again!
Luther: 1
"Free-will": 0

Erasmus, my friend, you have been owned.
Aug 23, 2011 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Luther’s, The Bondage of the Will, is a doctrinal treatise first arguing against Erasmus’ doctrine of free will, and then arguing for the Bible doctrine of the will’s bondage. Luther argues that, counter to Erasmus’ view, man is not able to freely choose Christ for his salvation. Man is enslaved in his sin and unable to act in any way towards his own salvation. Apart from divinely initiated grace, man is incapable of not only meriting salvation through his works, but of even choosing God. Luthe ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Trice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trice by: growing up in the RP Church and talking to my dad along the way

3/20/2011 halfway through the first part of the Discussion
Keep feeling like I'm taking it in great gulps and then realize only 30 pages have passed - this definitely takes more concentration as each sentence is full. I've ended up reading half of it out loud and for some reason it seems to be clearer this way. The parts where he focuses on the issue at hand are definitely better (more important? more informative? more grace-filled?) than the parts where he's lashing away at Erasmus, tearing him
May 26, 2009 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, theology
I don't know whether it is the translators' translation or Luther alone, probably both, but Luther was killer. Erasmus did not have a prayer, literally, it seems.

A powerful wit:

One who talks as you do must imagine that the living God is no more than a wild inconsequent ranter shouting from a soap-box, whose words you may interpret, receive or refute as you please, according to their observed effect on the ungodly.

An insightful heart:

I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I shou
Charles Puskas
Mar 31, 2013 Charles Puskas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Empassioned defense by Luther of our human inability to win God's favor by making right choices and living an upright moral life. He is saracastic, satirical and whimsical in his rebuttal of the learned and famous Erasmus of Rotterdam who relied heavily on the interpretations of Jerome and Origen to bolster his support for a semi-Pelagian form of synergism. Erasmus, following Duns Scotus and other medieval scholastics, argues for our human abilities, damaged from the fall of humanity, but often ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Luther admitted he thought this was his best work and I am inclined to agree. In this response to Erasmus of Rotterdam he presents a compelling case for the exhaustive sovereignty of God over all of creation and particularly in electing and predestining those whom he saves, he also shows how this does not conflict with the idea that man is held responsible for his sin, addressing the same question Paul does in Romans 9, "How can [God] still blame us, if no one resists his will?" Luther's writing ...more
Drikus Roux
Oct 31, 2012 Drikus Roux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
I found this book to be a real diatribe. It reads heavilyy, with long sentences, and lack of punctuation. The fire of Luther is very apparent.

It's not a technical book, but the same arguments we have today, over free-will and the will bound, abounded then. The low-road of Erasmus, is still present today, in the free-will or synergetic salvation churches.

The high-road view of Luther, based on St. Augustine, and that held by Calvin, is the minority of reformed churches today.

It's a read to be had,
Rachel Worley
May 21, 2014 Rachel Worley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me a lot with understanding the argument of free will and predestination. I've always understood the basic arguments, but once I started thinking deeper into the topics, things weren't as clear for me. This really helped me understand the deeper issues. So even though it was hard to read, I'm so glad I read it because of that. Unfortunately, I had to read through it kind of quickly because I read it for a class and had a deadline to finish it by. So I wasn't really able to read ...more
Acutally, I heard this on sermonaudio, which means not all of it sank in, but I got the gist of it. Luther was a deep thinker, and he has many good points here, most of which I agree with. At times he was perhaps a little too harsh and dogmatic, but overall a good book to sink your teeth into. It probably deserves more than three stars, but it was not the most easy listen, and thus not the most enjoyable to me.
Tom F
Jul 18, 2015 Tom F rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't have time, or the ability to write a review of such a work. Suffice it to say the book was excellent, humorous, and helpful. I wish I could recommend it to so many people, unfortunately the people today proclaiming free-will aren't typically the kind of people to read much, and definitely not Reformation Era. Anyway, great read. And, I appreciate the respect Luther pays to Erasmus at the end. It really shows Luther was about the issue, the biggest issue, rather than about Erasmus.
Jul 31, 2008 Greg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Luther is an utter jackass when writing this book. While there may be stylistic differences between how people wrote in the 16th Century to now, there's not a whit of Christian charity show in the tone of the book. I found myself more sympathetic to Erasmus than "The Great Reformer."
Amazing! Luther is so clear, so blunt, so biblical. I thought reading this would be very difficult, but it was a joy. The translators have much to do with this experience, I'm sure, and their introduction was exceptionally helpful!
Aug 25, 2014 Geneva rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap, what a dick.
Jun 14, 2017 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FINALLY finished a most elegant and thorough treatment of man's free-will before a Sovereign God.
Luther may touch on all possibilities regarding man's free-will. I highly recommend this book to any of who wants to understand God's sovereignty and man's free-will.
Ian Caveny
I wonder how I would have received The Bondage of the Will had I read it just a few years earlier in my life? After all, here is one of those books that represents a major dichotomy in Christian belief and practice: on the one side those who hold that the Gospel has the power of transformation, and on the other side moralism and "good deeds." In Luther's time, this manifested in the dichotomy of the Catholic Church and Luther's community of rebels, but in our day and age this dichotomy manifests ...more
Kerry Campbell
Apr 29, 2013 Kerry Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit I read this book probably 30 plus years ago now and I still refer back to it occasionally. What prompted me to read it was because I heard some quotes and his name was dropped into sermons and conversations often enough to know this guy was important in the history of the church and I should read some source material. I certainly was not prepared for this book- it was both very difficult to read and I struggled with his concepts, no doubt to a lack of ability in me to think criti ...more
Ben Zornes
Feb 20, 2017 Ben Zornes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, history
A lot of ink has been shed debating the nature and ability of man's will as it relates to doing good, and for anyone who would discuss this topic with well-informed knowledge of what each position holds, Luther's "De Servo Arbitrio" or "On Bondage of the Will" is an important voice in that conversation.

This seminal work of Luther's was incredibly illuminating into the issue of so-called "free-will". In it Luther interacts with Erasmus' work: "On Free Will". Erasmus, as a medieval humanist, conte
Joseph Kiser
Jan 23, 2013 Joseph Kiser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This edition (J.I. Packer as Translator) is brought forth with a flair for the dramatic. Packer states in the beginning that he is translating in the spirit of the matter and not necessarily the literal work. Because I know this work, the history of this work and I know of the men involved, I am confident in the effort to hold true to Luther's intent. That being said, this is one of the best books I have read.

If you hate Jesus, if you are a card carrying Catholic or a card carrying Baptist, you
Alex Milledge
Feb 17, 2014 Alex Milledge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, religion
An excellent critique on "Free Will".

I don't really take to the idea of "Free will" as long as we are conditioned by Time, Place, and Education, but Luther's criticism of "free will" against Erasmus was magisterial.

One of the things I find Christianity to be is that it is really hard to argue due to its inconsistency, especially on "free-will". In the New Testament, you find that Paul says we have "free-will" while still God makes "vessels unto honor and to dishonor"; and while in the Old testam
Luther is writing this as a response to Erasmus, who was a well known humanist scholar. Erasmus decided to stay within the Roman Catholic church. Erasmus wants Luther to see the ramifications of saying, "there is no free will." However, Luther forcefully counters all the polemics made by Erasmus.

He says, everything is by God and if he is omniscient, his immutable will shall prevail no matter what. I could really feel Luther's caustic words. He quotes a lot of scriptures and simply shows that it
I LOVED this book. Being brought up German Lutheran, where we sat in the pews like "good little soldiers," as a childhood friend of mine put it, I never imagined Luther to be laugh out loud funny. My image of him was always Stacy Keach prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary enduring penance for some miniscule sin, or of course drily giving us the answer to, "what does this mean?"

This book is like a 500 year old Facebook argument. The one we all wish we could have.

It is a truly beautiful and r
Oct 04, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: omnibus-books, 2014
The Bondage of the Will was Martin Luther's reply to Erasmus' "On Free Will." Consequently most of the book is a rebuttal to Erasmus--whom I, nor I suppose, most have read. So one must construct Erasmus' argument from Luther, and much of the context of the argument is somewhat difficult to follow for this reason.

Luther does decimate whatever modicum of an argument Erasmus must have used, as he shows clearly from Scripture and reason why free will is nonsense. Sin has incapacitated man's ability
I wish I had known about this book when I was in high school. For much of my formative years I have struggled with seeing free will in the Bible, being taught about the "age of accountability" and told that it was very explicit in the pages of Scripture. It came down to a single decision: stand alone on the argument against free will or submit to the teaching of the church. Submit was what I thought was my only option.

Happy I was to find out more than a year ago that I was not alone: there are m
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Reformed Readers: Bondage of the Will discussion - will contain spoilers 13 29 Apr 03, 2011 09:42AM  
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • Freedom of the Will
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • The Sovereignty of God
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols
  • Chosen By God: Know God's Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • Westminster Confession Of Faith w/ Catechisms (1646-7) (and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directories for Public and Private Worship, Form of Presbyterial Church Government, the Sum of Saving Knowledge)
  • The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented
  • Systematic Theology
  • Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
  • The Mystery of Providence
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • The Reformed Pastor
  • A Body of Divinity: Contained in Sermons upon the Westminster Assembly's Catechism
  • The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
  • The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (A Theology of Lordship)
Martin Luther was a German monk, theologian, university professor and church reformer whose ideas inspired the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of Western civilization.

Luther's theology challenged the authority of the papacy by holding that the Bible is the only infallible source of religious authority and that all baptized Christians under Jesus are a spiritual priesthood. According
More about Martin Luther...

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“many pass for saints on earth whose souls are in hell.” 27 likes
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