Martin Luther: Bondage of the Will, part 5


INTELLIGENCE AND FREEDOM OF THE WILL

Luther argues, regarding the power of the intellect, what Christian’s intelligence can be compared to Cicero, Plato, etc.?  If free-will has power, why is it that such men of low esteem become believers (Lk 16:8)?

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor 1:26-27)

THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH

Another emotional/logical argument from those that oppose predestination is that it has not been popularly held by church leaders throughout church history.  Could it be possible that God has overlooked error in His church for so many ages?

Luther argues that because one is a church representative, does not mean that one is truly a member of the true church.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14)

THE TRUE CHURCH

For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel (Rom 9:6, ESV)

For example, consider the kings of Israel – NO king is mentioned who did not sin [and grievously] against God. Who knows whether, all throughout church history, there have been those called saints who are not, and called not, who are. With regard to all the contradictory statements that various ‘saints’ have made throughout history, the only thing we can safely say about those statements is that they were said [and nothing more].

So, if the true church is invisible and known only to God Himself, who do we trust? The Roman Catholic view is that Scripture is unclear, so we must rely on the teaching office of the church at Rome. The Protestant view is that this puts man [arbitrarily] above God’s Word. [in other words, the interpreter sits above the message, and therefore the Messenger.]

PROTESTANT VIEW

Protestant view:

  1. We must rather trust the ‘internal’ teaching of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:15). This, of course, only benefits those who actually have the Spirit – the rest can only but be deceived (John 14:17).
  2. We are instructed ‘externally’ by the public ministry of the Word of God (1 Cor 1:21).

So, the Protestants rely on Scripture, well and good; but this brings us back to the Roman argument against the clearness (perspicuity) of the Scriptures. Can they be understood?

Ps 19:8 -> The commandment of the Lord gives light to the eyes.
PS 119:130 -> God’s Word gives light to the eyes [of faith]
Ps 119:105 -> God’s Word gives a light to our path
Is 8:20 -> Go to the law! If one does not, he does not have light of God
Jn 5:39 -> Search the Scriptures!
2 Pet 2:19 -> God’s Word is a light shining in a dark place
Acts 17:11 -> Bereans were more noble because they searched the Scriptures
2 Tim 3:16 -> Scripture is sufficient! [not the Fathers]

WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN (Acts 5:29)

Asks Luther, “is the Word of God clear and testimony of man clear?” If the Word of God is unclear, how can Erasmus quote church fathers who fool-heartedly affirm free-will. Shouldn’t men be at least as unclear as God? How can one even assert the Scriptures to be unclear? Wouldn’t that require a higher measure of clarity in order to decide? If we cannot have confidence in the understandability of Scripture, how can we have confidence in our ability to to understand unclear church fathers who base their understanding on unclear Scriptures?

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Is 8:20)

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