Review: The Bondage of the Will

Martin Luther, Baker, 1525/1957, 322 pages, 5 of 5 stars

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.19.57 PMEarly in the 16th century, two great minds collided on a topic with tremendous implications. On one side was Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, a humanist scholar of unsurpassed learning. No one in Europe could rival his deftness in linguistics. His witty tongue was evident in his best-selling satire In Praise of Folly.

Though Erasmus was an ardent Roman Catholic, he was not a theologian, nor did he care to be. And the amicable Erasmus would rather do his fighting behind a desk than brawl behind a pulpit. As one author put it, he could never stand contra mundum.

It would be difficult to find an equal mind with greater dissimilarity than Martin Luther. He was the antithesis of everything Erasmus valued. Bombastic and brash, Luther had been convinced monasticism was the surest way to heaven—that is, until he found the Gospel in Romans 1:17. His Ninety-Five Theses, previously idling in the parking lot, would now be parked just outside the Vatican.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: Silence

Shusaku Endo, Taplinger, 1969. 201 pp. Three of Five Stars

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.47.09 PMIs God silent in our suffering? The author implies “yes”, but Christians know better. God is not aloof in suffering. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2Co. 1:5).

Written by a Japanese-Catholic, Silence addresses the troubled period of Japanese history known as “the Christian century”. By 1614, 300,000 “Christians” lived in Japan’s population of 20 million. But amidst the light, dark persecution prevailed.

Apparently a highly revered missionary, a priest named Ferreira, had apostatized by recanting his faith. A Portuguese priest is sent to find out if it is true and finds persecution himself. This is a novel about a young priest who, among excruciating persecution, is fighting to maintain his faith in God. The more he resists recantation, the more he asks: “Lord, why are you silent? Why are you always silent?” Continue reading