Monday, February 14, 2011

Lutheran Revolutions

In Luther: The Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career, James M. Kittelson spent a great deal of time on Luther's theory of revolution, particularly his emphasis on submitting oneself to the governing authorities. Luther argued that, since all government is established by God, all revolts are, for that reason, sinful.

Lutherans have traditionally followed Luther's interpretation, even going so far as to condemn the American Revolution. It may be, as an heir of both Luther and the American Revolution, that I am biased in this regard, but I think Luther was correct, but that the American Revolution was also valid.

The seat of doctrine in Luther's theory of revolution was St. Paul's statement, "submit yourself to the governing authorities..." The key word is "governing." In the American revolution, one of the complaints made in the Declaration of Independence was that the Crown was not governing--it was unduly delaying the passage of needed legislation. The body that was handling the day-to-day operations of the colonies were the colonial governments. Thus, a revolt by the government of the colonies (the Continental Congress was comprised of the chief men of the colonies) was not a revolt of the people against the government, but a war of the governing authority against an alien power. Thus, it was a legitimate revolution.


Post a Comment

<< Home