In the cover story on church/state separation, John Witte’s “In Luther’s view” (September) gives the false impression that Martin Luther believed Christians should always obey the government. But note Luther’s opposition to service in unjust wars. When asked, “Suppose my lord were wrong in going to war?” Luther replies: “If you know for sure that he is wrong, then you should fear God rather than men, Acts 5:29, and you should neither fight nor serve. For you cannot have a good conscience before God. ‘Oh, no,’ you say, ‘my lord would force me to do it; he would take away my fief and would not give me my money, pay and wages. Besides I would be despised and put to shame as a coward, even worse as a man who did not keep his word and deserted his lord in time of need.’ I answer: You must take that risk and, with God’s help, let whatever happens, happen. He can restore you a hundredfold as he promises in the gospel ....” Now six years after the invasion of Iraq, I lament the fact that we failed to follow ... the boldness of Luther.
The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers