Erasmus Versus Luther
During the 1500’s, the Catholic Church was found abusing its power through religious slander. It was revealed that the church used its role as the Christian interpreter to trick people into believing that people could pay for things in the afterlife. For example, one of the many lies the church announced was that souls are able to pay in their lives to shorten their purgatory time, which is of course absurd. This was nowhere to be found in the scriptures, yet the Catholics were preaching this nonsense. From this unacceptable behavior, scholars began to reform against the church. When these scholars reformed, they did not necessarily attack the church. They just decided to fix what they believed was out of line.
One of the famous reformists is Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, more commonly known as Erasmus. This famous scholar became a reformist after witnessing the unethical and immoral actions of the church, which of course was the selling of indulgence to the people; the immoral act of tricking the less competent people made him furious. Because of these sorts of unacceptable actions, Erasmus became bent on moral reform in the church more than anything. He did not agree with the church, but he still remained loyal to the pope.
The more famous reformist, if not the most famous, was Martin Luther. Luther was a priest for the Catholic Church, but he did not necessarily agree with the Church’s teaching. Luther believed that God was a cruel supernatural being who was angry with the people. Seeing how so many people were being told to buy their indulgences, Luther thought that it was disgusting how God treated people. Ultimately, Luther began to search for a merciful God. He began to search for a God who loved his people because according to the teachings of Christ God was a loving God unlike what the church preached.
These two reformists became famous for their attempts to change the religious ground the church was built on, lies and immoral actions. Many people at the time hoped that the two reformists would unite and help each other to create a more true Christian religion, but unfortunately they were unable to. Luther was very adamant about going back to the scripture and relearning Christianity. Luther believed that the people should be able to read and learn the Bible for themselves and as a result he translated it to German. Erasmus did not care for the scriptures much. Erasmus was passionate about the moral reform of the church. Erasmus stayed loyal to the pope, but he wanted for the church to stop in their immoral actions. That was his ultimate approach.
The reformists met and discussed much on the subject of Counter-Reformation, but the more they laid their ideas, the more the two could not stand each other. Luther was bound by the Word of God, which meant that the reformation Luther was attempting would change doctrines and practices. Erasmus placed reason above the Scriptures, so the Word of God was not as much of importance to him.
As time passed, Luther and Erasmus became more distant. Luther by this time was out and no longer part of the Catholic Church. Erasmus was still loyal to the Church, so he was pressured by the Pope to write and refute against Luther. The result was the doctrine called On the Freedom of the Will. In response to this, Luther released his own called The Bondage of the Will.
Erasmus opens his doctrine by first humbling himself. Perhaps it is because he was forced to write this. Regardless, he states that he is not credible as much as Luther is and that he is only a student trying to learn of the Freedom of Will.
In The Freedom of the Will, Erasmus defines free will as something that allows people to choose their own method to live, whether it reaches salvation or not. The scholar came to this conclusion because in the Bible there are times when the scriptures say that humans have free will to do whatever they