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The Reformation Part 9: The Bondage of the Will

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semi-pelgagianism

The Reformation (Part 9): The Bondage of the Will

By the time of the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had functionally embraced the error of Semi-Pelagianism. Pelagianism (man has no original sin) and Semi-Pelagianism (man is affected by sin but not depraved and can cooperate in their salvation by their free will) had been condemned in the Ancient Church. 

Augustine (Early Church Father) had opposed Pelagius (and his heresy) and had taught instead:

  1. That all men are totally depraved and their wills are in bondage to their depraved minds and depraved affections or emotions.
  2. Men’s wills are “free” to choose anything that their minds believe and their affections desire.  The problem is all men’s minds are enemies of God and “cannot” be otherwise except through God’s regenerative power.
  3. Scripture tells us that all men hate God and no one seeks after God.  The net result is that while men are making free moral choices with their wills they are only choosing off the buffet of their fallen, God hating, non-understanding minds and affections which will always inform their will to choose against the Lordship and glory of God.  Thus all men are responsible for their choices freely made.

Rome moved away from the teaching of Augustine and concluded that sin had only tainted man and that man through the help of the sacramental system could gain merit with God toward their own salvation. This error undermined the Biblical teachings of salvation by grace alone (God overcomes your deadness by regenerating you) and the glory of God alone (God gets the glory in salvation for resurrecting dead/unresponsive people).

In sharp contrast to Rome, the Reformers pointed Christians back to the Biblical Doctrine of Sin and the Depravity of Man. Martin Luther’ “Bondage of the Will” opposed the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism and affirmed the Biblical & Augustinian teachings. This landmark book restored a reliance on the sufficiency of God’s irresistible grace in salvation.

Make It Matter

  1. Give glory to God for resurrecting you! (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  2. Rejoice in the grace of God that can save anyone!
  3. Pray for the lost and preach the gospel with confidence in the power of God to save.
  4. Read Luther’s Bondage of the Will.
  5. Deepen your understanding and experience of the Protestant faith by attending the course, The Reformation, offered at both the 8:30 and 10:30 services at Kindred from September 3—December 10.

Leading up to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 31st, I will be reflecting on key principles taught by the Reformers.  Next week we look at more from Martin Luther.

© Dave Doyle

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Thank GOD for his GRACE. PERIOD!

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