The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Servant or Lord?

Luther's two kingdoms doctrine keeps the church focused on the gospel

From the beginning, the Reformation had a strong political aspect. Martin Luther insisted that he wasn't starting a revolution, but his challenge to the authority of the church quickly brought him into conflict with popes and princes. The ensuing 30-year struggle (1517-1547) was framed by the rising power of Islam in Eastern Europe. No one could have imagined the final outcome — with various Christian confessions living side by side in neighboring territories.

In Luther's time many bishops also ruled extensive realms. The pope controlled central Italy and was deeply involved in protecting his domain. Pope Julius II (died 1513) personally led his troops into battle. The papacy struggled to maintain a balance of power among Spain, England, France, the Holy Roman Empire and others. This often led the church to preoccupation with political matters and blindness to its faults.

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February issue


Embracing diversity