My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

19 April 2005

Notes on Luther, 1

This is the first of notes from Luther's Bondage of the Will, which I've just begun working through.

The following quote (from J.I. Packer & O.R. Johnston in the lengthy introduction, not from Luther himself) is about Erasmus and his brand of religion. Erasmus was Luther's most famous opponent and his work on the freedom of the will was the impetus for Luther's opus. It struck me of this statement that (1) this is the siren cry of classic theological liberalism and (2) this is the siren call of my own, baldly moralistic heart.

Christianity, to Erasmus, was essentially morality, with a minimum of doctrinal statement loosely appended. What Erasmus professed that he desred to see in Christendom was a return to an apostolic 'simplicity' of life and doctrine, and this he thought could be brought about simply by eliminating the superstitions and abuses which had crept into the Church's life over the centiries. The Reformation that Erasmus advocated was like a course of slimming; its aim was confined to the removing of unhealthy surplus fat. But what Erasmus actually advocated under the name of 'the philosophy of Christ' as the true, slimmed, 'simple' version of Christianity, turns out on inspection to be no more than a barren moralism.

While, by Christ's grace, I remove this log from my eye, I will make it my prayer for the new pope. That truth for God's glory would be the aim over all other goals, that barren moralism would be banned from the Roman church, as well as from my heart - both of which would be modern reformations, indeed.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Tis a great book. Never got through the whole thing, but I loved what I read. Especially the intro.