Gregory B. Graybill

in Evangelical Free Will

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589487
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594588 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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Melanchthon began with predestinarian determinism, moved to temporal freedom coupled with spiritual bondage, and ended up with limited temporal and spiritual freedom. This spiritual freedom came in the form of free choice in whether or not to choose faith in Christ, once the individual had heard the Spirit‐illumined Word of God. Predestination was corporate rather than individual. This slow evolution of Melanchthon's theology occurred as a result of his pastoral concern for the effects of doctrine, coupled with an aversion to paradox that flowed from his view that Scripture should be subject to the classical rules of rhetoric. As Arminius would later be a response to Calvinism, so Melanchthon was a response to Luther. While Luther (and Calvin) propounded a bound will in combination with justification by the imputed merits of Christ, Melanchthon argued for a (limited) free will in combination with justification by the imputed merits of Christ. This was his innovation—evangelical (not Roman Catholic) free will.

Keywords: evangelical free will; paradox; antinomy; rhetoric; forensic justification; Erasmus; Luther; predestination; Word; Holy Spirit

Chapter.  1957 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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