Luther And Erasmus

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This volume includes the texts of Erasmus's 1524 diatribe against Luther, De Libero Arbitrio, and Luther's violent counterattack, De Servo Arbitrio. E. Gordon Rupp and Philip Watson offer commentary on these texts as well.

Long recognized for the quality of its translations, introductions, explanatory notes, and indexes, the Library of Christian Classics provides scholars and students with modern English translations of some of the most significant Christian theological texts in history. Through these works--each written prior to the end of the sixteenth century--contemporary readers are able to engage the ideas that have shaped Christian theology and the church through the centuries.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664241582
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 3/19/1995
  • Series: The Library of Christian Classics Series
  • Pages: 364
  • Sales rank: 770,244
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

E. Gordon Rupp was Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Cambridge in England. Rupp also served as President of the British Methodist Church in 1969.

Phillip S. Watson has served as Professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations xv
The Erasmian Enigma 1
The Lutheran Riposte 12
The Language of the Debate 28
Erasmus: On the Freedom of the Will
Prefatory Observations
Erasmus Acknowledges His Limitations and States His Point of View 35
His Dislike of Assertions 37
The Obscurity of Scripture 38
Some Truths Are Not for Common Ears 40
The Dangers Inherent in Luther's Teachings 41
Introduction to the Disputation
Luther Is Opposed Not Only by Scripture but Also by Weighty Authority of the Church Fathers 42
How Can Inspiration and Authority Be Tested? 44
Part I. Scripture Passages That Support Free Choice
Definition of Free Choice and Discussion of Ecclesiasticus 15:14-17 47
Man Before and After the Fall: The Forgiveness of Sins Restores Freedom of Choice Through Grace 48
The Work of the Will, and the Threefold Law of Nature, Works, and Faith 49
Different Kinds of Grace, and Three Views of Its Relation to Free Choice 51
Further Old Testament Passages Implying Free Choice 54
New Testament Texts Examined. Matthew 23:37 and Other Words of Christ 59
St. Paul Also Is a Champion of Free Choice 61
Part II. Scripture Passages That Seem to Oppose Free Choice
Exodus 9:12; Romans 9:17: The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart 64
The Problem of the Will and Foreknowledge of God 66
Two Kinds of Necessity: The Case of Judas 68
Jacob and Esau 69
The Potter and the Clay 70
Part III. Examination of Luther's Arguments in His Assertio
Genesis 6:3: The Meaning of "Flesh" and "Spirit" 74
The Will Is Not Powerless Though It Cannot Attain Its End Without Grace 79
Man's Cooperation with God 81
What Merit Is There Without Free Choice? 84
A Reasonable Approach to the Problem 85
A Mediating View, and a Parable of Grace and Free Choice 89
The Extravagances of Those Who Totally Deny Free Choice 91
The Dire Results of Exaggerated Views 95
As to Which Side Is Right, Let the Reader Be Judge 97
Luther: on the Bondage of the Will
Luther Explains His Delay in Replying and Admits Erasmus' Superior Talent 101
Part I. Review of Erasmus' Preface
Christianity Involves Assertions; Christians Are No Skeptics 105
The Clarity of Scripture 109
It is Vital to Know the Truth About Free Choice 113
God's Foreknowledge; Contingence and Necessity 117
Should Divine Truth Be Kept from Common Ears? 124
Should the Truth of God's Necessitating Will Be Suppressed? 134
Divine Necessity and the Human Will 139
Part II. Comments on Erasmus' Introduction
The Evidence of Tradition on Behalf of Free Choice 144
The True Church, Which Does Not Err, Is Hidden from Men's Sight 154
Scripture, with its "Internal" and "External" Clarity, as the Test of Truth 158
Part III. Refutation of Arguments in Support of Free Choice
Erasmus' Definition of Free Choice 169
Three Views of Grace and Free Choice--or Three Statements of One View? 177
Ecclesiasticus 15:14-17. The Foolishness of Reason 182
Other Old Testament Passages, and the Imperative and Indicative Moods 188
Erasmus' Failure to Distinguish Between Law and Gospel 194
God Preached, God Hidden; God's Will Revealed, God's Will Secret 200
New Testament Passages: Matthew 23:37--Man Must Not Pry Into the Secret Will of God 205
Precepts and Rewards in the New Testament: The Question of Merit 208
Erasmus' Arguments Undermine His Own Case 215
Part IV. Defense of Arguments Against Free Choice
Erasmus' Use of Tropes in Interpreting Scripture 220
Exodus 4:21--The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart 223
How God's Omnipotence Can Be Said to Work Evil 232
How God's Foreknowledge Imposes Necessity 239
Two Kinds of Necessity: The Case of Judas 246
Jacob and Esau 249
The Potter and the Clay 255
Erasmus' Way of Reasoning Does Not Let God Be God 258
Part V. Rebuttal of Erasmus' Critique of the Assertio
Genesis 6:3 and the Biblical Meaning of "Flesh" 263
Other Old Testament Passages--The Universal Sinfulness and Impotence of Man Under the Law 266
The Whole Man--Body, Soul, and "Spirit"--Is "Flesh" 271
How Erasmus Persistently Evades the Issue 278
John 15:5, etc.: Free Choice Is "Nothing"--Coram Deo 281
Divine Grace and Human Cooperation 288
Part VI. A Display of the Forces on Luther's Side
St. Paul: Universal Sinfulness Nullifies Free Choice 293
Free Choice May Do the Works of the Law but Not Fulfill the Law 302
"Congruous" and "Condign" Merit 309
The Righteousness of Works and of Faith; and a Summary of St. Paul's Testimony Against Free Choice 312
St. John: Free Choice is of "the World," "the Flesh"; Grace is of Christ, by Faith. The Two Are Opposites 319
The Two Kingdoms, of Christ and of Satan. The Assurance of Faith 327
The Mercy and Justice of God in the Light of Nature, Grace, and Glory 329
That the Case Against Free Choice is Unanswerable Let Erasmus Be Willing to Admit 332
Appendix On the Adagia of Erasmus 335
Indexes 341
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