Luther_Erasmus - On Free Will ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM (1524)...

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Erasmus/Luther:Page of 10 2 On Free Will ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM (1524) Among the difficulties which not infrequently arise in the Holy Scriptures, there is perhaps no more inescapable labyrinth than the question of free will. For this problem has marvellously exercised the wits of theologians, both ancient and modern, as it once did those of the philosophers, but, it seems to me, with greater effort than results. In our day the controversy has been renewed by Carlstadt and by Eck, but in a moderate way; this question was soon agitated more violently by Martin Luther, one of whose theses concerns free will. Although his assertion has not been unanswered, I am intervening in my turn, at the urging of my friends, in the hope that my little work may contribute to the progress of truth. Now I know that certain people will shut their ears and protest: "The world is turned upside down! Erasmus dares to oppose Luther! This is the mouse going into battle against the elephant!" To pacify them, if I may be allowed a moment's silence, I shall simply repeat by way of preface one single well-established fact: I have never accepted the doctrines of Luther. No one should then be shocked to see me affirm publicly a difference of opinion such as this which can divide one man and another; still less am I prevented from contesting one of his opinions and especially from engaging in a temperate discussion with him, inspired only by a desire to seek out the truth. Certainly I do not think that Luther can be scandalized if someone disagrees with him, since he himself has not hesitated to attack not only the opinions of all the doctors of the Church, but the doctrines taught by all the schools, all the councils, and all the popes; what he does openly and without disguise should not be imputed to me as a crime by his friends, if I disagree with him in my turn. On the other hand, to avoid anyone's interpreting this controversy as a gladiatorial combat, I shall take issue with but a single thesis of his, with no other aim than to make the truth more clearly manifest, if it is possible, by comparing the Scriptural texts and the arguments; such an inquiry has always been considered especially honourable for learned men. The affair will be conducted without abuse, both because this is more fitting for Christians, and because in this way the truth may be attained more surely, as it is often lost in the violence of argument . . . Let us then suppose that it is true in a certain sense, as Wyclif has taught and as Luther has asserted, that whatever is done by us is done not by free will but by pure necessity; what is more inexpedient than to publish this paradox to the world? Again, let us suppose that in a certain sense it is true, as Augustine says somewhere, that God works both good and evil in us, and rewards His own works in us and punishes His own evil works. What a door to impiety this pronouncement would open to countless mortals, if it were spread abroad in the world, especially in
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2011 for the course ART 101 taught by Professor Brianseymour during the Spring '11 term at Community College of Philadelphia.

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Luther_Erasmus - On Free Will ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM (1524)...

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