Recalibrating Human Freedom with Martin Luther

Public Forum with Andrea Vestrucci

Free and open to the public.
Dinner Board Room, Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA

The relationship between free will and determinism is one of the hot topics of current philosophical debate. This paper focuses on a specific way of addressing this relationship: the theological way. The theological way is the following: considering human freedom in relation with a world determined by divine omnipotence and omniscience. Martin Luther explores this path in his famous " Bondage of the Will " (1525). The paper analyzes the logical argument thanks to which Luther challenges the usual idea that freedom and necessity cannot share the same room. As such, the Bondage of the Will clarifies the relationship, and the distinction, between the philosophical and the theological approaches to the issue of freedom. 

Andrea Vestrucci is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at the Graduate Theological Union. He earned his Ph.D. in Ethics from the University of Lille (France) and the University of Milan (Italy), and his Th.D. in Systematic Theology from the University of Geneva (Switzerland). His most recent book is Theology as Freedom: On Martin Luther's De servo arbitrio (Mohr Siebeck, 2019).


Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna is the First Lutheran, Los Angeles/Southwest Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at PLTS of California Lutheran University. A native of Finland, she is a docent at the Helsinki University and serves in the doctoral faculty of the GTU. Her publications include “Women and the Reformation” and “Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People”, with her spouse Rev. Dr.  Brooks Schramm, and “The Annotated Luther”  (contributor, editor of volume 2, and co-general editor of the 6 volumes).

Rev. Diane Bowers, Ph.D., is a theologian, Luther scholar, and pastor. She is serves as adjunct faculty at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, a pastor in the Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA, and convenes a Luther discussion group for lay folks and clergy in the synod. Dr. Bowers lives in Berkeley with her husband Hans Kasper and their baby son Elijah.