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Christians have debated the role of the human will in salvation and sanctification for millennia. This collection brings together two respected Lutheran scholars, Robert Kolb and Gerhard Forde, who flesh out Luther’s theology of human will by contrasting the Reformer’s arguments against those of Erasmus and key Lutheran documents like the Formula of Concord. These explorations shed light on important moments in this historic discussion, providing salient points for teaching, preaching, and research.
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Galvanized by Erasmus’ teaching on free will, Luther wrote De servo arbitrio, or The Bondage of the Will, insisting that the sinful human will could not turn itself to God. This groundbreaking study investigates the sixteenth-century reception of De servo. Robert Kolb unpacks Luther’s theology and recounts his followers’ ensuing disputes through their resolution in the Formula of Concord.
Kolb is one of the best historians of Luther at work today and this book adds another feather into an already bursting cap.
The Captivation of the Will provocatively revisits a perennial topic of controversy—human free will. Highly esteemed Lutheran thinker Gerhard O. Forde cuts to the heart of the subject by reexamining the famous debate on the will between Luther and Erasmus.
Following a substantial introduction by James A. Nestingen that brings to life the historical background of the debate, Forde thoroughly explores Luther’s Bondage of the Will and the dispute between Erasmus and Luther that it reflects. In the process of exposing this debate’s enduring significance for Christians, Forde highlights its central arguments about Scripture, God, the will, and salvation in Christ.
Luther recognized that the only solution for humans bound by sin is the forgiveness that comes from Christ alone. Convinced that this insight represents the heart of the Christian gospel, Forde concludes with 10 sermons that proclaim the message of salvation through Christ alone while elegantly relating theological inquiry to everyday life.
Gerhard O. Forde (1927–2005) was professor emeritus of systematic theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. His other books include On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518, Where God Meets Man, and Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life.