Moreover, I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account – that you alone, in contrast with all the others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like – trifles, rather than issues . . . you, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot. For that I heartily thank you.
Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), 319.
The key area of dispute between Luther and Erasmus was that of who gets to be sovereign in man’s salvation. Erasmus said it is man, Luther said it is God. Luther clearly understood that the issue of God’s sovereignty in salvation was the central issue at stake in his dispute with the Roman Catholic Church’s man-centered theology. For Luther, this was no secondary matter of little importance. It was the “hinge” upon which the entirety of his theology turned.