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 »

Book Review

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
Why Should I Trust the Bible?

We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Who Am I? Human Identity and the Gospel in a Confusing World
Thomas Fretwell

In today’s secular society, religion is often regarded as without rational or scientific basis, and therefore irrelevant to life in the modern world and all areas of public engagement. If that is our social context, then it is no wonder…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Pastor’s Life: Practical Wisdom from the Puritans
Matthew D Haste & Shane W Parker

This book highlights ‘some of the many lessons that today’s pastors can learn from the Puritans’ (p.151). As such it is aimed at pastors, but the lessons are really for anyone who is a Christian leader. The opening chapter provides…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
5 Minutes in Church History: An Introduction to the Stories of God’s Faithfulness in the History of the Church
Stephen J Nichols

What a breath of fresh air this book is! Stephen Nichols has given us 40 vignettes from church history that are brief enough to be digested over a bowl of cereal. The book doesn’t aim to be a beginner’s guide…