Doug Van Dorn

Og Blog

Luther's Cyclopes

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments ()


Martin Luther, in talking about the absolute impotence of human beings to overcome their own depravity (Gen 6:5), uses a "giant" analogy for those who would believe that their will is more powerful than their bondage to sin.

"We must, therefore, beware diligently of being found among those Cyclopes, who oppose the Word of God and boast of their own free will and of their own powers" [Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 2: Genesis 6:5].

I may read more into this than Luther meant, taking him quite literally when he meant to be taken figuratively. But I've read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with an eye on the evil things the giants did and believed, and how Israel was not to emulate these dumb brutes. His seems a fit warning to us, that apart from the grace of God that imposes itself completely against our desires, in order to rescue us who love the darkness and would do anything to stay in it, we would be just like the giants of old. In fact, that's why God destroyed that entire age of flesh in the flood.

Whenever I teach on the topic of freewill, I always make it a point to help people understand that the opposite of freewill is not predestination. The opposition of freewill is a will in utter bondage to sin. The opposite of freewill is human depravity. No one has ever shown this better than Martin Luther. If you've never read it, I highly recommend his classic book The Bondage of the Will.