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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, July 12, 2014

John Robbins: Christian Government Versus Libertarianism

Here is the way the Protestant pastors of Madgeburg stated their position in 1550 in The Confession of Madgeburg: “We will undertake to show that a Christian government may and should defend its subjects against a higher authority which should try to compel the people to deny God’s Word and to practice idolatry.”  --John Robbins

Against Luther, the popes contended that the supreme authority in church and state was not a written law, not the Bible, but the Church itself, speaking through God’s representative on Earth, the Pontifex Maximus, the pope. Here the battle was clearly joined: Is written law supreme, or is man supreme? Those who agreed with Luther that the Bible alone is the supreme law in the church consequently opposed ecclesiastical monarchy, favored republicanism and the rule of law, defended the right of ordinary church members to judge whether church leaders were teaching in conformity with the Bible, and to disobey them if they were not.

All these ideas, central to the Reformation and developed primarily by Martin Luther and John Calvin, were then applied to civil governments. Luther’s intransigent and courageous disobedience to the pope led him to conclude, “If one may resist the pope, one may also resist all the emperors and dukes who contrive to defend the pope.” It was Luther’s theology that led to the formation of the Schmalkald League of German princes against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, in 1530, and the breakup of the so-called Holy Roman Empire. Of course, it did not end there: The English exiles on the Continent protested the reign of Mary Tudor in the 1550s; the Huguenots in France resisted the repressive Roman Catholic monarchy in France; the Dutch Reformed resisted the tyranny of the Spanish Crown. Here is the way the Protestant pastors of Madgeburg stated their position in 1550 in The Confession of Madgeburg: “We will undertake to show that a Christian government may and should defend its subjects against a higher authority which should try to compel the people to deny God’s Word and to practice idolatry.” This doctrine – which became known as the doctrine of lesser magistrates – was the theory that informed the American War for Independence.

John Robbins

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