Friday, August 13, 2010

The Whole Year...

This whole school year could get lost and and swallowed up in studying just the life and impact of Martin Luther. We will be watching the great movie of his life--titled Luther. Actually, there are two movie versions of the life of Luther. One was produced in the 1950s and the other more recently. Both are outstanding productions with great casting and very similar scripts. Each has its better moments, but we will be watching the more recent version.

We will also be reading Gene Edward Veith's brief biography of Luther, titled A Place to Stand. This will serve to fill in the gaps on Luther's life and works and give us a great batch of Luther quotes.

And we will be reading Luther's magnum opus: The Bondage of the Will. This will not be an easy book (i.e., not modern easy-believe-ism or sappy devotional reading). Instead, this is hard hitting theology. Luther was going up against the best man on the other side--Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus was a champion for the return to the texts--ad fontes--"to the sources" and so he blessed the world with his scholarship on the Greek text of the New Testament (the Textus Receptus). He also strongly decried the corruptions found in the Roman Catholic Church. Several Reformers--strongly influenced by Erasmus and Luther both--called on him to join in the Reformation. But he held back. In part, he was too strongly tied to a rationalistic view of salvation. Man's will, Erasmus reasoned, was free to think and decide based on evidence.

"NO," Luther shouted. "Man's will is not free to reason, but is in bondage to sin. Only when it is released by God and put in bondage to Christ can the will receive grace."

An Erasmusian Reformation (rather than a Luther-an or Calvinian Reformation) would have been short-lived.

[Once upon a time, a Veritas student was applying for a scholarship to a university. When asked by the panel to name a book that had changed the life of the reader, this Veritas student chose Bondage of the Will. Can you name that student?]

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