Desiderius Erasmus created controversy through his refusal to discard certain primitive Christian doctrines. The idea of ‘free will’ is one which he held on to even as his contemporaries both within and without the faith was moving toward accepting the doctrine of ‘predestination’. Although the Catholic Church itself had at times viewed Erasmus with suspicion and blamed him for the growth of Protestant faction, he was at heart and deed a man of religious toleration. (Olin, 1979) This is best exemplified in his work De Libero Arbitrio. Though meant to be a polemic to Martin Luther’s dominant views the tone and temperament of his arguments and language were admirable. It illustrated Erasmus’s belief that even disputes of faith should be conducted in an orderly, respectful and courtly manner. Erasmus declared that “courtesy rather than invective is a better way to win over an opponent. He who accuses another of heresy ought to exhibit charity in admonition, kindness in correcting, candor in judging, latitude in pronouncing. Why do we prefer to conquer rather than to cure?” (Thornton, 2005) The bipartisan intellectualism of Erasmus is also evident in the fact that “the exegetical methods, philosophical concepts, and theological doctrines by him and Martin Luther creatively synthesized characteristics of bodi scholasticism and humanism.” (Brashler, 2009) Erasmus also promoted the study of classical Latin and Greek for being able to comprehend, interpret and comment on religious texts.
- Bauman, Michael. “Colloquies: The Collected Works of Erasmus.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society3 (1999): 536.
- Brashler, James. “From Erasmus to Calvin: Exploring the Roots of Reformed Hermeneutics.” Interpretation2 (2009): 154+.
- Olin, John C., and Desiderius Erasmus. Six Essays on Erasmus and a Translation of Erasmus’ Letter to Carondelet, 1523. New York: Fordham UP, 1979.
- Thornton, Robert M. “Erasmus.” Modern AgeFall 2005: 367+.