Luther & Knox Concerning Disobedient Magistrates

“The Sword of Justice, Madam, is God’s, and is given to princes and rulers for one end. If they fail in their duty and spare the wicked, then those who intervene and deal out the requisite punishment will not offend God. Nor are those who restrain kings from striking innocent men committing any sin, as numerous Biblical example demonstrate. In Scotland, judges are empowered by Act of Parliament to seek out and punish those who celebrate Mass, and it is your duty, Madam, to support them. Ye should therefore consider what it is that your subjects expect from you, and what it is that ye ought to do unto them by mutual contract. They are bound to obey you and that not but in God. Ye are bound to keep laws unto them. Ye crave of them service: they crave of you protection and defence against wicked doers. Now, Madam, if ye shall deny your duty unto them…think ye to receive full obedience of them? I fear, Madam, ye shall not.”

John Knox
Interview w/ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
Teaching us on the proper disposition to Magistrates

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Here is Luther. In fairness, I’m told that Luther had a change of heart after 1530. Still, this provides an interesting contrast.

“Thus one has to suffer the power of a prince. If he misuses his power one should not turn one’s back on him, nor take revenge, nor punish him actively. One has to be obedient to him solely for the sake of God, because he is in God’s place.”

Evangelium am 23
Sonntag nach Trinitas

“Even if the magistrate is wicked and unjust there should be no excuse for rioting or rebellion. For not everybody has the right to punish wickedness; only the secular authorities in the possession of the sword.”

Ermahung zum Frieden auf die 12 Artikel der Bauernschaft in Schwaben

“It is better that the tyrants be a hundred times unjust to the people than that the people inflict one injustice on the tyrants. If there must be injustice it is to be preferred that we suffer from the authorities than that the magistrate suffer from the subjects.”

Ob Kriegsleute auch im seligen Stande sein konnen

“One ought not to resit outrage but rather suffer it; yet one should not approve of it….

“The princes of the world are gods, the common people are Satan, through whom God sometimes accomplishes what He would otherwise accomplish through Satan, namely rebellions, as punishment for wicked men.”

Von weltlicher Obeerkeit wie weit man ihr Gehorsam schuldig sei

“The donkey wants to be beaten and the mob wants to be ruled by force; God knew this well. This is the reason He gave the sword into the hands of the magistrate and not a foxtail.”

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500 years later Christians continue to debate whether the Luther approach or the Knox approach is more God honoring. For reasons already set out on Iron Ink I clearly think the early Luther was in error and Knox is right.

No Magistrate, no Husband, no Father, no Employer, no Minister, is owed unconditional obedience. Only God is owed unconditional obedience. Magistrates, as Covenant heads who viciously and continually violate the charters and covenant documents of a Nation, are no longer to be considered Magistrates, but instead are to be considered the Devil’s spawn and so are to be resisted when opportunity arises and the possibility of success is good.

It may be the case that we submit to wicked magistrates because the time is not right to resist because they have the biggest guns but strategically submitting is not the same thing as submitting because of the righteous claim of a magistrate.

The old Cameronian Covenanter motto holds true,

“Rebellion against Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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