Are You Willing to Believe?

Erwin Lutzer | May 14, 2016

At some point you’ve probably participated in a discussion about predestination versus free will. You may have concluded the matter was either too complex or too irrelevant to dig further into the subject. Since there are fine Christians on both sides, you may be tempted to conclude the controversy isn’t really all that important. If that’s you, Martin Luther (1483–1546) would like to have a word. He said those who weren’t interested in this issue “shall know nothing whatever of Christian matters, and shall be far behind all people upon the earth.” Strong words!

Why did Luther believe this issue was so essential? He was convinced it went to the heart of the gospel and was the “hinge” on which everything turned. To affirm free will, according to Luther, is to compromise grace.


Luther vs. Erasmus

Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536) took up Luther’s challenge with a book his support for Augustine’s view that the will isn’t free. Diatribe Concerning Free Will began with Erasmus acknowledging he’ll be criticized for attacking Luther—like a fly trying to attack an elephant. He professed great respect for Luther and believed Luther will welcome this exchange of views. Erasmus didn’t think the issue was very important, but it was at least worthy of consideration. Therefore, he…

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