Christian Freedom

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“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” This paradox is the basis of Luther’s concept on Christian freedom. For Luther, his reform freed Christians two fold. Christians were free from false assumptions about salvation and from the commandments of the Old Testament. To Luther, God alone could grant salvation. Despite this freedom, Christians still had to obey earthly laws. The differences of spiritual and temporal freedom seemed contradictory but for Luther it was clear that faith would free the Christian soul. Luther defined freedom for a Christian as freedom through faith. Salvation was granted by God alone. However their flesh was still bound by temporal laws on earth because it did not affect the soul.

First, the basis of Christian freedom was Luther’s belief of an inner man and an outer man. The inner man was the spiritual man, and the outer man the flesh. For Luther, freedom was not for the outer man but for the inner person. Since the needs of the soul were against the needs of the flesh, external forces on the flesh could not affect the inner soul. Here Luther is setting up why works, like in the catholic tradition could not free soul. Works do not affect the soul, whether they are good or bad. Rather only faith could free the soul. This belief was in direct opposition to the Catholic doctrine of doing good works to help earn salvation. Luther saw this as hypocrisy. It was putting something only God would do in the hands of man. Therefore, faith was the basis of truly freeing the Christian soul.

Furthermore, Luther was adamant that freedom of the inner person came from knowing that works could not save the soul. “They are ...

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...ue Christian’s soul was free. By living as a true Christian one could help his neighbor and preserve peace. This freedom ultimately was of the inner man and not the outer man so Christians remained under the authority of lords. It did not matter for Luther since their souls were finally free.

Works Cited

Martin Luther, Freedom of a Christian, in Hans Hillerbrand (ed.), The Protestant Reformation (1968), pp. 33

Luther, FC, p. 33

Luther, FC, p. 33

Luther, FC, p. 49

Martin Luther, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, in Hans Hillerbrand (ed.), The Protestant Reformation (1968), pp. 126

Luther, FC, p. 37

Luther CP, p. 131

Martin Luther, Concerning Governmental Authority in Hans Hillerbrand (ed.), The Protestant Reformation (1968), pp. 74

Luther, GA, p. 75

Luther, GA, p. 76

Luther, GA, p. 83

Luther, GA, p. 88
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