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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

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

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