The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Church and state

Government created to protect us

If Romans 13:1 says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God," how do we explain rulers such as Adolf Hitler? Secondly, why do only 5 percent of the people in Norway attend church when so many U.S. Lutherans have roots there?

Your two questions are related in an unusual way. The Nazi government led by Hitler used Romans 13:1 against the resistance movements in the German church. Nazi leaders argued that since Hitler was duly elected, opposing him was opposing God's instituted authority. Faithful opposition countered by saying blind allegiance to Hitler was idolatrous and that what he proposed and lived out clearly opposed Scripture: "We must obey God rather than any human authority" (Acts 5:29).

Martin Luther believed government and rulers were created to protect us from chaos and evil and that we should obey such a government.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity