Key Quotes From Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” | Monergism

As the heading above indicates, the referenced article from the website Monergism.com provides “key quotes” from Martin Luther’s classic work The Bondage of the Will.

That work is a response to the Dutch humanist and Roman Catholic priest Desiderius Erasmus, who, while critical of Roman Catholic teaching in some areas, strongly defended her views on salvation, free will, and grace.

Luther obliterated Erasmus’ arguments and posited in their place the truths of salvation by grace alone due to the total sovereignty of God and the utter inability of the sinner.

Monergism gives a short introduction before providing some of Luther’s powerful answers to the man from Rotterdam. Here is part of that introduction:

The following quotes hit the crux of the issue: whether Christ alone saves or whether salvation is synergistic cooperation of man and God. This is still extremely relevant for today’s Christian, for many of us carry the unbiblical assumption that Erasmus held, which wrongly concludes any command from God to believe or obey the gospel, must somewhow imply the moral ability to to do so. Large numbers of evangelicals today make this same jump in unaided logic and build a whole theology on it but as Dr. Luther said to Erasmus, “when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations … I’ll write Ro.3:20 over the top of it all” (“…through the law comes knowledge of sin.”). In other words, the commands exist to reveal not our ability but rather our inability, and this moral impotency does not take away our responsibility to obey.

And here are a few of the “key quotes”; to find more visit the link below.

And, let me add, in this year of commemorating the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the 16th century, it would be good for us to read (or re-read) this mighty classic of Protestantism.

“For if man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?” Martin Luther BW pg. 149

“…’if thou art willing’ is a verb in the subjunctive mood, which asserts nothing…a conditional statement asserts nothing indicatively.” “if thou art willing”, “if thou hear”, “if thou do” declare, not man’s ability, but his duty. pg 157

“the commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded.” pg. 160

Speaking to Erasmus, “Throughout your treatment you forget that you said that ‘free-will’ can do nothing without grace, and you prove that ‘free-will’ can do all things without grace! Your inferences and analogies “For if man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?” Martin Luther BW pg. 149

“Even grammarians and schoolboys on street corners know that nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what ought to be done, and that what is done or can be done should be expressed by words in the indicative. How is it that you theologians are twice as stupid as schoolboys, in that as soon as you get hold of a single imperative verb you infer an indicative meaning, as though the moment a thing is commanded it is done, or can be done? pg 159

“The passages of Scripture you cite are imperative; and they prove and establish nothing about the ability of man, but only lay down what is and what not to be done.” pg 161

Source: Key Quotes From Luther’s Bondage of the Will | Monergism

New Reformation Titles 2017 (1)

Protestants-Ryrie-2017During this year of noting and celebrating the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017), it is fitting to call attention to some of the new and newly reprinted books on the history and figures of that great event.

So far this year we have had opportunity to point to a few, but today I give you part of my seminary library list of new Reformation books acquired and processed in the first two quarters of this year. The list is not exhaustive but selective of the more noteworthy ones we have obtained.

I hope this also gives you some ideas for your own reading profit this year, as well as for building your own library. I plan to do the same for future

*Note: The format reflects that found in the library cataloging program I use, not that ordinarily used in bibliographies.

  • Ulrich Zwingli : Shepherd Warrior / William Boekestein. — 1st-pb. — Fearne, Ross-shire, GB : CF4Kids, 2016.
  • Being Protestant in Reformation Britain / Alec. Ryrie. — 1st-pb. — Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Beyond the Ninety-Five Theses : Martin Luther’s Life, Thought, And Lasting Legacy / Stephen J. Nichols. — 1st-pb. — Phillipsburg, NJ : P&R Pub., 2016.
  • The Life and Times of Martin Luther : Selections From D’Aubigne’s Famed History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century / J. H. (Jean Henri) Merle d’Aubigne, 1794-1872. ; H. White. — 1st-hc. —  Chicago : Moody Press, 1950.
  • Protestantism After 500 Years / Thomas Albert Howard, editor. ; Mark A. Noll, 1946- , editor. ; Jr. Witte, John. — 1st-pb. — New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • John Knox / William M. Taylor. — reprint-pb. — Lexington, KY : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.
  • Luther : Belofte en Ervaring / W. van ‘t. Spijker. — 1st-hc. — Goes : Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1983.

Katharina-Luther-2017

  • Katharina and Martin Luther : The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk / Michelle Derusha. ; Karen S. Prior. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids : Baker Books, 2017.
  • Luther In Love / Douglas Bond. — 1st-pb. — Inkblots Press, 2017.
  • Reformation Marriage : The Husband and Wife Relationship in the Theology of Luther And Calvin / Michael Parsons, 1949-. — reprint-pb. — Eugene, OR : Wipf & Stock, c2005 / 2011.
  • Meet Martin Luther : A Sketch of the Reformer’s Life / Anthony T. Selvaggio. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, Michigan : Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.

Reformation-Women-VanDoodewaard-2017

  • Reformation Women : Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth / Rebecca VanDoodewaard. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, Michigan : Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  • The Reformation : What You Need to Know and Why / Michael Reeves. ; John Stott. ; Lindsay Brown. ; Julia E. M. Cameron. — 1st-pb. — Peabody, MA : Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2017.
  • Four Hundred Years : Commemorative Essays on the Reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and Its Blessed Results, In The Year of the Four-Hundredth Anniversary of the Reformation. / W. H. T. (William Herman Theodore) Dau, 1864-1944. ; C. Abbetmeyer. ; Arthur H. C. Both. — reprint-pb. —  Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing / Forgotten Books, c1916.
  • Protestants : The Faith That Made the Modern World / Alec. Ryrie. — 1st-hc. — New York : Viking, 2017.
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse : Religion, War, Famine, and Death in Reformation Europe / Andrew Cunningham, Dr. ; Ole Peter Grell. — 1st-hc. — Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2000.

bookstore-june-2017

Allow me also to put in a plug for the seminary bookstore, where we have a goodly number of new and used books, including a significant Reformation section. Prices are the best we could find, especially on the used books, where many are only $1 and $2.

Feel free to visit us this summer! We are here every day!

Grammar Check! “I” vs. “Me”

Today’s GrammarBook.com email (June 21, 2017) about writing and proper use of English grammar focuses on the right use of the personal pronouns “I” and “me”, though it includes other pronouns too.

Since this is always a sticking point with writers – and especially speakers (we get even lazier when we speak)! – we should work on getting this right, both in our writing and in our speaking.

I remember my dear mother correcting me over and over on this as a child, until it was drilled into my stubborn Dutch noggin. Today I thank her for those daily grammar lessons. I believe they finally sunk in. Check my grammar in the previous sentences. 🙂

If you visit the blog post on this at the end of this post, you can even take a pop quiz to check yourself.

Source: I vs. Me – Grammar & Punctuation | The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Spring 2017 PRT Journal Available

The Spring 2017 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal is now available in print form and in multiple digital forms (Vol.50, No.2).

PRTJ-cover-April-2017-2

As you will see from the cover image, this issue contains a variety of significant Reformed reading material.

Prof. R. Cammenga, editor of the PRTJ, gives these “notes” at the beginning in summary of this issue:

This is the second and last issue of the fiftieth volume of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal.  We welcome our readers to its pages.  Included are several articles.  The Rev. Thomas Reid favors us with the transcript of the second of two speeches that he gave last spring before the faculty, student body, and area Protestant Reformed ministers.  The article highlights the labors and contributions of a recent French Reformed theologian, Auguste Lecerf.  PRCA pastor, Rev. Thomas C. Miersma, contributes an article on the special offices and gifts in the New Testament church.  He asks whether these gifts and offices continue in the church today, and if not, why not?  The undersigned has two contributions to the issue.  The first is the second part of my examination of the teaching of common grace in light of the five solas of the Reformation.  The contention of the series is that the doctrine of common grace vitiates the five solas that constitute the Reformation’s enduring contribution to the New Testament church.  The second contribution is another installment of the “John Calvin Research Bibliography.”  A number of our readers have expressed appreciation for the bibliography as a useful tool for doing research into all the main areas of Calvin’s theology.  The bibliography arose out of my work in crafting a special interim course on the theology of John Calvin.  The course is scheduled to be taught once again as the winter interim between the two semesters of the 2017-18 school year.

      Included in this issue is what we hope will be a regular feature from the seminary’s librarian, Mr. Charles Terpstra.  Mr. Terpstra highlights the significant recent additions to the seminary library.  We include this not merely for the information of our readers.  But we invite our readers to make use of our library for study and research.  We are even open to loaning our books to our constituency and friends.

      And, of course, we have our section of book reviews—a goodly number of reviews in this issue.  We want to do what we can to inform our readers of new books of special interest that are being published.

      Read and enjoy!

    Soli Deo Gloria!                                                                                                      —RLC

If you wish to receive a free print copy of this issue, or to be added to our mailing list, contact our secretary at the email found on our home page. To download free print edition, use the link given above.

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Reset: Reduce by Planning and Keeping Routine

Reset-DMurray-2017We continue to consider the helpful thoughts of Dr. David Murray in his newly published book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

Having us take the “car” of our lives into “Repair Bay 7” (remember, the author is writing mainly with men in view) Murray points us to the need to reduce the stress and busyness  of our lives by reducing our work and schedules.

There are many helpful thoughts in this chapter, but here are a few. The first involves planning:

It’s not enough to have a purpose [the previous point]. We also need plans; we have to figure out the steps we need to take to get to our goals. If we want to strengthen our marriages, what steps will accomplish that? If we want to visit all the seniors in our congregations, how many a week will we visit, what time in the week will we do it, and where will we record progress? If we want to have more time with our teenage sons, where, when, and how will we do this? It’s not going to happen without a plan. That’s why I make sure that my calendar has time set aside each week for advancing my life purposes. If it’s not on there, it’s not going to happen. If it’s not on there, I’m clearly not serious about accomplishing it.

Scheduling also helps us stop overpromising to ourselves or others. Overpromising is the fatal result of an overoptimistic view of our abilities plus an unrealistic estimate of our available time plus a well-intentioned desire to please other people. The result is megastress in the one making the promises and usually huge disappointment in the ones receiving the promises [pp.131-32].

The second thought involves keeping a routine:

‘Tell me your daily routine.’

Uh, I don’t have one. Every day is different.’

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation with burned-out pastors and depressed Christians. What came first – the depression or the chaos – is sometimes difficult to trace, but they seem to go together, each one feeding off the other.

That’s why one of the first things I do is to get them to draw up and commit to a basic routine of sleeping, worshiping, eating, working, studying, and so on. God is a God of order, not of confusion (1 Cor.14:33), and as his created image-bearers, we glorify him – and feel much happier – when we live regular, orderly lives. He made our world and us in such a way that we flourish when our lives are characterized by a basic rhythm and regularity. That’s why those who make the most progress toward their lives goals are those who work on them at the same time each day or week. That’s also why those who have the most routine in their lives are healthier and happier [p.133].

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn – Matt Smethurst

As we noted before, this month’s Tabletalk is devoted to the Beatitudes our Lord spoke during His ministry on earth (cf. Matt.5).

Each of these beatitudes are given a brief explanation and application in the issue, and for today we quote from the article of Matt Smethurst on the second beatitude, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

Here is in part what he has to say:

Deep Dive

Imagine awaking on the Fourth of July to a text from a friend: “Meet me for fireworks at 11 a.m.” You’d think it was a typo. Why? Because fireworks aren’t impressive in the noonday sky. The darker the sky, in fact, the more stunning the display. In the same way, the brilliance of grace must be set against the blackness of sin. As the Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.”

For the world, grieving sin is regressive and constricting; for the Christian, it is the pathway to joy. Imagine the implications. If Matthew 5:4 is true—if Jesus really meets repentance with comfort, not condemnation—then no longer do you need to fear being exposed. No longer do you have to present an airbrushed version of yourself to fellow redeemed sinners. No longer do you need to fear studying your heart and plumbing the depths of your disease. If exploring sin brings you to the deep end of the pool, exploring mercy will take you to the Mariana Trench. And awaiting you at the bottom of the dive is not a black hole but a solid rock.

Scarred Savior

In the final analysis, the Sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from its speaker. Jesus prayed many prayers during His incarnation, but never once did He pray a prayer of confession. He didn’t have to. He mourned over many sins, but never once did He mourn over His own. He didn’t have any.

Ultimately, our comfort is anchored in the reality that Jesus doesn’t just mourn sin; He conquers it.

Source: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Matt Smethurst

Final Images and Impressions of the ACL Conference

Yesterday was the final day of the Association of Christian Librarians’ Conference, held this week at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids.

By the way, while working in the library for a while during a break on Wednesday, I discovered that CU’s Miller Library has a Torah scroll on special display. Impressive display room – you may actually walk into it and examine the scroll up close!

Each day of the conference began with a devotions and worship time (8 AM), but I missed those due to my other duties. I did, however, get to all but one of the workshops I  signed up for, including two yesterday.

Let me say something first about the special “solo librarians” meeting I attended Wednesday night. This is a special group (and online discussion group within the ACL network) in ACL for librarians who work alone, or with a very small staff. While there are large libraries employing many librarians that belong to ACL, there are plenty of us “small” people working in small institutions. And we have our own unique challenges and struggles (blessings abound too!).

I found it very helpful to be able to sit around a discussion table with these Christian colleagues for over an hour (including prayer time) and talk about things on our minds. This being my first experience, I mostly “listened in,” but I did find a few opportunities to ask questions and contribute to the discussion. And again, I found myself drawn to the “solos” at meal times and free times too, so that I could continue to benefit from good talks – especially with those librarians who work in small seminaries such as ours. Some of the key things I wanted to discuss were what programs do their libraries use (for technical services), what policies do they have in place, and how do they teach information literacy.

Yesterday morning I attended two workshops. The first was a great follow up to our “solo librarians'” meeting the night before, as this workshop was specifically on how to thrive as a “solo.” Presentations by six different solo librarians were given (two by video), all of them helpful and encouraging. They key thoughts were “persevere” and “keep evaluating and making improvements” (personally and institutionally), even if they are small.

Especially encouraging (moving, even!) was the talk by Paul Roberts, a “solo” (and a ACL Board member) from Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, AL, whose school suddenly closed on May 31, leaving him along with many others without a job. He spoke about “scriptural encouragement,” and in the light of the sudden change in his own life, about how important it is to walk close to the Lord, in the Word and prayer each day. I learned quickly to appreciate this humble servant of God.

The second workshop was an “unconference” one (just means it was not specifically planned by the conference team) on library “technical services.” A librarian from Judson College in Marion, AL led a valuable discussion on how our libraries can best carry out these services. While the presentation was simple, the discussion was fantastic – I learned a lot about cataloging, preservation, and maintenance of collections!

At noon we gathered at the Frederick Meijer Gardens across the street for a fabulous banquet and tour of the gardens. The meal was amazing, the fellowship rich, and the tour was…. Let’s just say I had to (wanted to!) leave early so as to catch the end our senior seminarians oral exam at synod at Hudsonville PRC.

As you now know, all seven examinations were approved and all seven men declared candidates for the ministry of the Word and sacraments in the PRC. Graduation was held last night – a happy time for the men and their families, and for the churches. So thankful for these fine young men. For more on this, visit this news item on the PRC website.

ACL Conference Experiences

While I have been somewhat coming and going to the Christian librarians’ conference at Cornerstone University this week, I have been able to take in most of the major sessions.

Yesterday’s keynote speech by Steven Bell of Temple University was quite different than I expected but still profitable. His presentation focused on making our libraries a better experience for patrons. He laid out 5 qualities of a good user experience :

  1. Engagement,  that is, being polite, caring, and genuinely interested in helping people.
  2. Executional excellence, that is, knowing our library stuff and being qualified to do our job to the best of our ability, so that we deliver excellence in all we do.
  3. Brand experience,  by which he means having an appealing design and atmosphere in our libraries.
  4. Expediting, serving well to save people time.
  5. Problem recovery, that is, being efficient in solving issues patrons have.

Bell’s presentation was interspersed with video clips, slides, and personal stories, making it interesting and practical.

I have also enjoyed and benefited from sessions on e-resources, starting a seminary librarians’ group in ACL, developing a framework for information literacy, and the CL Consortium  (sharing resources, etc.).

Yesterday I took two new out-of-town librarian friends from Liberty University to Eerdmans bookstore for part of the afternoon, which was quite enjoyable, even if I had been there in the last month. 🙂

Today was vendor day, so we had the chance to visit with publishing people and library service reps. And some of our fellow librarians had displays of special projects they had worked on, such as this one by Erinn H. from Grace Bible College (Wyoming, MI), who did a history of Christian book publishing here in Grand Rapids.

Cornerstone had been a wonderful host, providing great venues and excellent food.
They even have a special welcome display in Miller library for us.

After dinner tonight there is a special “solo” librarians meeting, which I am also anticipating with eagerness. Probably the biggest benefit of the ACL conference has been networking with these new colleagues. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend.

Published in: on June 14, 2017 at 3:26 PM  Leave a Comment  

Christian Librarians’ Conference

ACL-2017-conf

I am excited to attend and report on my first ever Association of Christian Librarians’ Conference, being held this week at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids.

Yesterday the conference began, including a special “meet and greet” for us “first-timers”, and I was able to connect with some new people already, including librarians from Dordt College and Liberty University among others – even an excited young man from Tanzania!

Today the main conference begins with a keynote speech this morning by Stephen J. Bell of Temple University and then various workshops and sectionals, including one for “solo” librarians (like myself) and a brand new one for seminary librarians. I am looking forward to learning new things and networking with new people to gain new information so as to better serve as librarian in our seminary.

tcl volume 57 issue 2 coverThe ACL also publishes its own Journal, The Christian Librarian, which is now available online here.

Perhaps a little humor is in order from my first-day conversations with several librarians about cataloging. We were discussing the importance of getting the right subjects in the record, and one librarian said he found a record recently on a work about God’s sovereign control of all things under the subjects “God” and “Providence”, with the words “Rhode Island” behind it. Oops!

The Ultimate Purpose of Reading the Bible: the Praise of God’s Glorious Grace

Reading-Bible-Supernaturally-Piper-2017Redemption begins in eternity past in the heart of God. He predestines a people ‘for adoption…through Jesus Christ.’ Paul tells us the deepest root and the highest goal of this predestination. He says it is rooted in ‘the praise of his will’ (Eph.1:5). And he says its ultimate goal is ‘the praise of his glorious grace’ (Eph.1:6).

How quickly do we pass over that last statement! Whose purpose is being expressed in the words ‘he predestined us for adoption…to the praise of his glorious grace’? It is God’s purpose. And what is that purpose? That we praise. That we praise what? His glory. The peculiar glory of his grace. So from all eternity, God’s plan was to have a family adopted ‘through Jesus Christ’ who would praise his glory to all eternity. There are few things more important to know than that. Few things will shape more of your life than that – if it penetrates to the center of your soul.

The plan from eternity past was praise for eternity future. The one who planned and the one to be praised are the same God. And the focus of the praise is his own peculiar glory – which shines most brightly as the glory of grace in the person and work of Jesus [pp.46-47].

Quotation by John Piper, taken from Chapter 1, “Reading the Bible toward God’s Ultimate Goal” in Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017).

As proof for the fact that the glory of God is what we should ultimately have in view as we read the Bible, Piper refers to the “six stages of redemption” as they are set forth in Scripture: predestination (the section quoted from above), creation, incarnation, propitiation, sanctification, and consummation.