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Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation (The Library of Christian Classics) Later Printing Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0664241582
ISBN-10: 0664241581
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About 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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Product Details

  • Series: The Library of Christian Classics
  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; Later Printing edition (January 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664241581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664241582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 4, 2010
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Desiderius Erasmus (De Libero Arbitrio) and Martin Luther (De Servo Arbitrio), Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, Translated and Edited by E. Gordon Rupp, Philip S. Watson (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1969)

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, translated by J. I. Packer & O. R. Johnston (Grand Rapids, Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1959)

The exchange on the issue of free will between Erasmus and Luther may be one of the best known theological exchanges in the history of Christian literature. If for no other reason, it is memorable for being the impetus behind Luther's writing what he considered his best theological work. Both works were written in Latin, and both are peppered throughout with references to a wide range of both theological works and classical Greek and Latin authors. Both were linguists of the first order. Erasmus had St. Jerome as his hero, while Luther was especially devoted to the though of Jerome's contemporary, Augustine of Hippo.
Both works cited above contain very good translations of Luther's work, which is about four times longer than Erasmus' Diatribe. Both works also contain very good introductions by the editor / translators; however the Rupp/Watson volume is clearly superior in that it contains both works, with an introduction to both works. It also has superior footnotes and combined index to their introduction, Erasmus' work, and Luther's work.
In the first few years of Luther's career as a reformer, beginning in 1517, with the publication of the 95 Theses, most of Europe perceived Erasmus as an ally of Luther. Some, such as the papal legate, Jerome Aleander, thought Erasmus actually wrote Luther's works. In 1524, influential friends, got Erasmus to write a tract against Luther.
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If you want to understand Luther's Bondage of the Will, then you need to understand Erasmus' Freedom of the Will. This is a convenient way to get copies of both books.
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Is our will really free or are we predestined? Where do we stand when it comes to our salvation? Can we contribute to the salvation of our souls? Erasmus and Luther argued over what they and their contemporaries thought was the characteristic difference between the evolving Catholic and Protestant positions concerning human nature, namely, the question of the freedom of the will. However, we shouldn't be limited by this ideas, their often heated discourse reveals, as much about their subjective modes of thinking and about the atmosphere of this turbulent period. But in the history of ideas this discourse gains an added significance. It shows some limitations of Christian Humanism and enlightens most of subsequent developments of modern thought. Neither one of them loses we all win! The introductions to the texts are, for themselves, worthy of this price. E Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson, offer and impartial analysis of the two men's positions, assuming an important familiarity with the circumstances of the conflict. A great buy.
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While I do not completely agree with either of the two views advanced by Erasmus and Luther, this book gives a glimpse into the thinking of these two amazing men. I would disagree with the previous reviewer's opinion that Luther was the winner in this debate. I thought that Luther's beliefs were somewhat rediculous. He claimed that we have no free-will, and are controlled either by God or by Satan. He also claimed that we have no option as to which we will be controlled by. He then proceeded to say that it is our own fault if we are controlled by Satan. Also, he makes the claim that we could sin only because we were tempted. This is a faulty claim. If one can fall only if tempted, how then did the Tempter fall? Who tempted him?

This book also gave an interesting look at the personalities of both men. Erasmus seemed to me to be apologetic for writing something against Luther. He even said that he was sorry if he had misinterpreted what Luther had said. Luther, on the other hand, was (in my opinion) extremely harsh toward Erasmus, called him names, and said his work was worthless.

In conclusion, this is a not a book I would reccomend if you want to make a decision about what to believe about free will (there are much better books for that), but it is an excellent book if you want to see the beliefs of two men who are giants in both the history of Christianity and of the whole western world.
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An eye opener for those who think they are morally able to make a decision to receive or believe in Christ.
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I shall preface this review by stating that, in my opinion, Luther wins this debate. Erasmus makes some very good points, but Luther's "Bondage of the Will" contained within this volume is, perhaps, the clearest and most humble presentation of the election of God and its relation to human will that I have ever come across -- to the extent that it rivals John Calvin's "Institutes" itself! I found the arguments convincing and clear, and I found Luther's dedication and submission to the authority of Scripture inspiring.
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Great reference for Theology students
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excellent exposition on the role of free will as well as lack of its power in our salvation as commented upon by Luther
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