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On Christian Liberty

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,047 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Perhaps no work of Martin Luther's so captures the revolutionary zeal and theological boldness of his vision as 'The Freedom of a Christian'. This translation of Luther's treatise brings alive the social, historical, and ecclesial context of Luther's treatise.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 25th 2003 by Fortress Press (first published 1520)
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I give it a 3.5 but rounded up on the stars. Luther contends that by putting assurance of salvation on works the Christian is contradicting the work of Christ and the promises of God. Nonetheless, Luther’s conviction is that this freedom does not exclude Christians from works but rather should be the compelling reason to serve God and one another. How would my life look different if I were to live more truly out of a place of freedom? I was especially struck by the weight of Luther’s thoughts wh ...more
Straight to the source. It seems that most reformed theologians bend over backwards to avoid admitting that works have anything do to at all with the Christian walk, while the more ancient and liturgical faiths do the same in regards to anything that has the slightest smack of antinomianism. Luther's treatise here on Faith Alone is the most concise summary and explanation of the doctrine, and it does well to rightfully comment on the necessity of works without relegating them to the dustbin of R ...more
Skylar Burris
I worshipped at a Lutheran church for almost four years and yet never read this. I’m glad I finally did, even though I am no longer a Lutheran. It really helped me to better understand the doctrine of “justification by faith and not by works,” and I appreciated the distinction Luther was careful to make between works and a *belief in* works and his insistence that ceremonies and rituals, though not salvific, are of immense value: “Hence in the Christian life ceremonies are to be no otherwise loo ...more
An excellent short introduction to Luther. His thesis here concerns a sacred mystery: “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.” In pursuing this paradox, Luther distinguishes true Christianity from lax liberalism on the one hand, and the oppressive dogmatism of Catholicism on the other. Carrying out this argument, of course, he promotes with characteristic boldness his vision of justification ...more
Joseph Sverker
I find Luther doing an excellent job in short and clear terms explain with biblical justification his view of justification by faith. He was accused ignoring the importance of good deeds for a Christian. But I think it becomes clear in this book that he is not ignoring them at all, he is, to his mind, putting them in their rightful place, namely as the consequence for living after one has been accepted by God through faith in Christ. I think this, if anything, is a more noble view of good deeds, ...more
Mike E.
Read it online. Concise and excellent. Fuel for freedom and peace over sin, anxiety, and defeatism.

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A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to
none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and
subject to every one.

Although these statements appear contradictory, yet, when they
are found to agree together, they will make excellently for my
purpose. They are both the statements of Paul himself,
"For the Christian freeman will speak thus: I will fast, I will pray, I will do this or that which is commanded me by men, not as having any need of these things for justification or salvation, but that I may thus comply with the will of the Pope, of the bishop, of such a community or such a magistrate, or of my neighbour as an example to him; for this cause I will do and suffer all things, just as Christ did and suffered much more for me, though He needed not at all to do so on His own account, ...more
This little booklet was written by Luther while he still was an Augustinian friar (in essence, a monk), to Pope Leo X, to whose discipline he was subject. Luther tends to think in terms of dualistic paradoxes. This tract contains perhaps his most famous paradox, the claim that the Christian is both "a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none" and "a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all."

For Luther, the essential religious question was how we can be "justified", that is, set right
John Martindale
So I was actually surprised, I didn't really expect to like this. First I must say the letter to the Pope (who the book was addressed) at the start was humorous, if not completely disingenuous, but I won't get into that. But yeah,. concerning the actual content of the book, though I am not completely sure if I am on board with his understanding of Justification (I still need to read N T Wright on the matter before forming a conclusion), I thought Luther did a splendid job of seeking to reconcile ...more
A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.

Although these statements appear contradictory, yet, when they are found to agree together, they will make excellently for my purpose. They are both the statements of Paul himself, who says, "Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all" (1 Cor. ix. 19), and "Owe no man anything, but to love one another" (Rom. xiii. 8). Now love
Wishing I had read this for the 10 series at UCLA while majoring in English, Luther's manifesto would have really put so much of the required readings into much needed context. Of course, hindsight is golden, and so is this text. If you love English and German literature or appreciate Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Baroque period, or have a keen interest in Western History, then what are you waiting for? Grab this deceptively simple text and dive into what set the Christian world on fire.
Fraser Coltman
In this treatise, Luther describes the life of Christian faith in terms of two paradoxical statements that rest upon faith in the grace of Jesus Christ. In my own words the statements are first, that every Christian is free from the demands others, and second that every Christian is at the same time a servant to all people. The first statement of the Christian's freedom is true because Jesus died and rose from the dead to give us all His righteousness; that is, His right relationship with God. T ...more
Although early in his career--and so there are lots of things that were not yet worked out properly--this little volume shows that Luther possessed the seeds of Biblical theology and truth.

Luther challenges those who think that believing is a little and easy thing to consider how great and miraculous faith actually is. Today we too need a revived understanding of the incomparable treasure of faith. It is common to hear people say that believing is not a big deal, but that how we act is really th
This book is nearly 500 years old. The history of Martin Luther himself makes it very interesting, but beyond that, it is still so relevant to the Church today. It amazes me how little the Church has changed after all these years and reformations. Luther describes problems he identified in the Catholic church, which I see in Protestant churches, Christians, and (especially) Christian leaders today. Still, works are over-emphasized and faith is not taught enough.
Nov 20, 2015 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 3
Martin Luther wrote this theological treatise in 1520 to accompany a letter to Pope Leo X. In this treatise he argues that Christians, i.e. people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, have been freed from sin and death; that does not mean, however, that they're free to do whatever they want. Instead, it frees them to serve God and others.

How are they freed? By believing in the Word of God/Gospel of Christ ("I am the resurrection and the life..." John 8:36). "Since these promises of God
Here Luther shares with us how to live as a Christian, inside and out. I have been looking for something this wonderful and clear to help guide me after I was recently baptized and it is a valuable read from many perspectives: historically it is a letter to Pope Leo X. I recommend it to everyone as an uplifting perspective on human purpose and living a meaningful life.
I found this book theologically/historically interesting to read - especially since, even though it was written in 1520, the language & theology are still very much the same as modern Christian thought now.

It's interesting how so many of the ideas (like faith vs works) are no longer controversial - if anything, they are now so commonly heard in Christian circles that it made it hard for me to stay glued to the book. But even with that, the book had a number of points (especially in the last
Short and sweet book on the freedom from law and works for our justification and instead resting in the freedom of Christ's perfect righteousness that is credited to us.
C.H.E. Sadaphal
The bottom line: A classic work of the Reformation that proclaims in order to be free, one must submit.

Many people tend to think that the Christian walk is filled with endless and burdensome rules and regulations that enslave its disciples to the tyranny of God. Yet it becomes quite clear for anyone that has studied the Scriptures and developed a close relationship with God that the Lord intends to burden no one and desires to set everyone free.

It is from this bold stance that Martin Luther deve
Mortimus Wiley
Billiant. Someone ought to use this to reform the Church!
Bart Breen
Martin Luther's Concerning Christian Liberty is considered by many to be Luther's seminal work which encapsulates Salvation by Grace through Faith alone as a rallying cry that shook the world of his time. It's a remarkable short work and it's two sections are demarcated by it's opening lines, ""a Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone." This of course is pretty much a restatement of Christ's par ...more
Read it because it was free on my Kindle. And it was short. I think it's useful as a historical look back at the Reformation. That being said, Luther's whole point gets repetitive (salvation by faith, not works, not indulgences, etc.) to modern ears. Still there were some good quotes in there.

"I am not delighted at the faults of any man, since I am very conscious myself of the great beam in my own eye, nor can I be the first to cast a stone at the adulteress."

"A Christian man is the most free lo
Jeff Ross
As I wrote in a book review of this on my blog recently at, "I’m not of a mind to critique the contents of this or any book by Martin Luther. I am deeply indebted to him as a Protestant. I am aware of the criticisms that some have against a few of his views and actions, especially from his later years, but those do not negatively reflect on his core writings which were of great significance in the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s."

Reading something nearly 500 years old causes
Although Martin Luther, in his On the Freedom of a Christian, defines faith in terms of both the spiritual and physical realm, he sees reason as something purely of the physical realm that can, and should, be used for the betterment of mankind. However, he does not believe that reason or any use of it plays any role in salvation.
For Luther, Faith is everything, “for faith alone, and the efficacious use of the word of God, bring salvation” (7). He spends the entire treatise arguing against the
Martin Luther in this essay explains why justification is by faith alone and never by works.

Review coming up but meanwhile, ponder on this.

"We give this rule: the good things which we have from God ought to flow from one to another and become common to all, so that every one of us may, as it were, put on his neighbour, and so behave towards him as if he were himself in his place. They flowed and do flow from Christ to us; He put us on, and acted for us as if He Himself were what we are. From us
Nick Bond
I sometimes wonder why, with all of the alternative interpretations of Christianity that popped up over the years, such as the Arians, Ebionites, and Gnostics, so few actually stuck around. Some of it has to do with the political power of the early Church -- they didn't take kindly to heresy and you had to have a very strong following in order to pose a real threat to their power. Most likely you weren't going to gain this following simply by quibbling over the exact meaning of the trinity, you ...more
Charles Puskas
More accessible introduction to Luther's teaching on grace alone by faith alone. Written on the eve of his excommunication from the Church, this was Luther's last ecumenical gesture toward Rome before making his bombastic exit. Much of the tract was written with a quiet gentility and piety that belied the heated polemics of the day and Luther's own ample perils of body and soul. Luther dedicated the tract to Pope Leo X, adorning it with a robust preface addressed to the "blessed father." He vowe ...more
Why have I taken so long to read this book? Luther’s classic articulation of what it means to be at liberty because of the Gospel is both delightful and thought-provoking. For me his analogy of the married couple alone made the book worth reading. He offers the analogy of a wife with a debt that she could never pay, and a husband with untold wealth which far surpasses the wife’s debts. In their marriage, the husband takes upon himself all of her debt, and the wife takes upon herself all of his w ...more
Brent McCulley
Martin Luther, in writing to Pope Leo X, expounds upon some theological doctrines that were so thoroughgoing in comparison to what was theretofore exegetically discussed, is it any marvel that Luther was tried at the Diet of Worms and planned to be subsequently found guilty and captured (praise God he escaped!)?

In his short treatise, Concerning Christian Liberty, Luther defines the Christian life; viz., the Christian is a free-man, subject to no one, and also, a slave, subject and a servant of
Very important text contributing to the Reformation. Written against Erasmus, we can here get a better picture of Luther's law/gospel, works/faith dialectic. His initial distinction between outward flesh and inward spirit also parallel this distinction. Perhaps it is this which came to define his view of "faith" as the matter of the heart, understood as an interior, "spiritual," reality, as opposed to "works" as the matter of the deeds that are done as a response to the internal faith.

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Grace vs. Works 1 32 Sep 05, 2009 04:52PM  
  • On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518
  • How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home
  • Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
  • The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
  • Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? (Crucial Questions, #7)
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
  • On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers
  • Sifted: God's Scandalous Response to Satan's Outrageous Demand
  • Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • Freedom of the Will
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • All Things Considered
  • Saved Without A Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation (John MacArthur Study)
  • Five Views on Law and Gospel
  • Be Committed (Ruth & Esther): Doing God's Will Whatever the Cost (The BE Series Commentary)
  • The Shape of Sola Scriptura
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
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“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.” 37 likes
“The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for.” 18 likes
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