In 1524, Erasmus of Rotterdam yielded to the pressure of many friends and patrons and wrote against Luther. He had avoided confrontation with Luther as long as possible, and when he decided he could no longer put off a public rebuttal of Luther’s ideas, he chose for the debate the issue of the freedom or enslavement of the will, a point he believed central to all of the challenges of the Reformation and an issue that left him with a safe amount of theological leeway in Church tradition. As James D. Tracy notes in the excellent introduction to Clarence H. Miller’s Erasmus and Luther: The Battle Over Free Will , “In the history of the European Reformation, few issues were as important as the one debated by Erasmus and Luther: Are human beings capable of contributing to their own salvation by what they choose to do or not to do?” (ix). Tracy notes that the free will debate had significant theological and ecclesiastical implications, especially regarding the interpretation of scripture, the “purpose of God’s revelation” (ix), and the ability of humans to do anything good at all (x). Clarence H. Miller’s edition of Erasmus’ and Luther’s debate about
ERSY – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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