“We Must Obey God Rather Than Men”: Lutheran Resistance Against Pope and Emperor in the Reformation Era
“‘We Must Obey God Rather Than Men’”: Lutheran Resistance Against Pope and Emperor in the Reformation Era,” in David Gides, ed., Uncivil Disobedience: Theological Perspectives (Minneapolis: Lexington Books, 2023), 75-92
15 Pages Posted: 31 May 2023
Date Written: 2023
The Bible commands people of faith both to “obey God rather than men” and to “honor the authorities” who serve as vice-regents of God. The perennial question facing jurists and theologians over the centuries is how to balance these two biblical commands when human authorities defy God’s law, violated God’s people’s rights, and/or become tyrants. This chapter first rehearses Martin Luther’s original teachings after 1517 on resisting the spiritual tyranny of the papacy and the church’s canon law. It then works through the arguments of the 1550 Magdeburg Confession on resisting the spiritual tyranny of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Keywords: Law, religion, law and religion, obedience, resistance, spiritual tyranny, political tyranny, Martin Luther, pope, emperor, Magdeburg Confession, canon law, imperial law
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