Subscribe now

Born Slaves – The Bondage of the Will

By Martin Luther
July 2017 | Review by James Clark
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-78101-966-8
  • Pages: 96
  • Price: 5.99
Buy this book »

This is an excellent introduction to an essential doctrine, sadly, opposed by John Wesley and many professed evangelicals.

Luther states clearly in the preface, ‘Man is born a slave to sin! He is not free’. He then goes on to oppose Erasmus’ doctrine (to whom the book is a response), point by point, expounding scriptural passages in the right way (in contrast to Erasmus) as he does so.

For example, regarding Romans 9:30-31, Luther comments, ‘The Jews who made efforts to keep the law were not saved by those efforts … This clearly shows that all the efforts of a man’s supposed “free will” are useless to save him’ (p.27).

‘Sin has enslaved man’s will. He is no longer able not to sin, nor can he serve God acceptably, or from the heart, without prevenient grace. The will needs to be delivered from this bondage by the Spirit of Christ’.

My only criticism follows the use of inferior Scripture translations by the publishers. For example, translating Isaiah 65:1 as ‘I was ready to be found’ actually gives support to Erasmus, with his false doctrine that God must stand by and wait for man’s will to act!

The editor closes the abridgement with a postscript on how important this doctrine is for the church today. This is an excellent abridgement of Luther’s original, complete work. It should whet readers’ appetites for the latter — there is no substitute for Martin Luther himself.

James Clark

NT lecturer, Free Church Continuing Seminary, Inverness

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism
James E Dolezal

James E. Dolezal has served the church well with this new book. In recent decades, there have been both subtle and overt attempts to reshape the doctrine of God for the church. This book attempts to recover lost ground by…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Spirit of the Age: The 19th Century Debate Over the Holy Spirit and the Westminster Confession
J V Fesko

In the late nineteenth century, mounting pressure developed among churches adhering to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) for a revision of some of its statements. In the USA, this was led by C. A. Briggs and Philip Schaff. Briggs’ antipathy…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Wonders of Creation (Design in a fallen world)
Stuart Burgess

This superbly illustrated book presents a compelling case that our world displays the hallmarks of design and testifies to the exquisite handiwork of our creator. Evidences are first drawn from a selection of land mammals, sea creatures, birds and insects.…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Getting to grips with prayer: Its realities, challenges and potential (Truth for All Time)
Ian McNaughton

Through the years I have read many books on prayer, but I don’t recall any having gripped me more than this book. It is a ‘must’ for every preacher and, indeed, the Lord’s people everywhere. It is well written, easy…