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Luther’s mission in the treatise on temporal authority (TA) was to give advice to his Christian princes on good governance. This treatise can be used as a guide on church and state relations. This article is motivated by the 2014 theme of the Luther Decade: “The Reformation and Politics,” which offers opportunities for the study of the impact of the reformation on the politics of the then German in particular, Europe and the world in general. In this article, I retrieve and reread Martin Luther’s treatise on TA, which is the basis of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe’s (ELCZ) understanding of the role of the church in politics. Keywords temporal authority, politics, violence, two kingdoms, Luther ideology on politics and good governance? If this treatise is Introduction about church silence on politics, then why did Luther use this The treatise on temporal authority (TA) is what is popularly same treatise to give pastoral political advice on good gover- known as the Two Kingdoms Theory/Doctrine. The nance to Christian princes? This article argues that Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe’s (ELCZ) expla- could not have advocated for silence using the same treatise nation for this theory is that there is a separation between the where he gives pastoral advice on good political church and the state and therefore the church should not pro- governance. fane itself with issues of politics (Moyo, 2013). The separa- tion means that Lutherans should be silent about politics in Background to the Article—The Luther church and the state should also be relatively silent about the church. However, it is common knowledge that politicians Decade want the church to legitimate their leadership, hence their The Lutheran reformation “started” on the 31st of October visits to churches toward any major general election. 1517 in German. In 2017, Lutherans will commemorate 500 Zimbabwean politicians also preach to the church to leave years of Lutheranism. In preparation for the celebrations, politics to politicians and concentrate on preaching the “gos- Lutherans in German decided to call the 10 years from 2008 pel” about heaven (Moyo, 2013, p. 208). Politicians use to 2017 the Luther decade. The reformation was “. . . an Romans 13:1-7 to silence any criticism from the church while demanding unquestioning allegiance. Based on the level of political violence (see Blair, 2003), Zimbabweans in University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa different walks of life have come to believe that politics is a Corresponding Author: dirty game, so good people, such as Christians, should not be Herbert Moyo, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of involved in politics. This article asks the following ques- KwaZulu-Natal, PB X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. tions: Does the treatise on TA advocate for church a quietist Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open important part of world history that a one year commemora- will not be terrified to silence and will resist, at least by word. tion of the 500th anniversary is not enough. That’s why . . . The ELCZ should be pondering on a theology of resistance the 10-year span . . .” (The Luther decade). Each year in the to respond to abuse of political office for self-gain at the decade has a specific theme: expense of the majority poor Zimbabweans. Luther then goes on to issue the treatise on TA (the first form of pastoral 2008—Opening of the Luther Decade; 2009—Reformation and care to the political leadership was issued as a treatise on the Confession; 2010—Reformation and Education; 2011— German Nobility where he spelt out the role of a Christian Reformation and Freedom; 2012—Reformation and Music; prince and how they can run their office) as a form of pasto- 2013—Reformation and Tolerance; 2014—Reformation and ral care to the TA and society at large. Politics; 2015—Reformation—Visual Arts and the Bible; It should be considered that Luther developed this treatise 2016—Reformation and the One World and 2017—Anniversary while responding to his sociopolitical situation. The ELCZ of the Reformation (Themes for the Luther decade. http://www. cannot therefore use Luther’s response to a given situation as lutherland-thueringen.de/en/the-luther-decade.html). a basis for not responding to Zimbabwe’s sociopolitical situation. The themes are an opportunity for theologians to engage with the reformation in the light of contemporary realities. The ELCZ and the Treatise on TA The Relevance of the Discussion on the The Church and State relationship debate cannot be more rel- evant than it is in Zimbabwe from 2008 to 2014. The ELCZ Two Kingdoms Theory in the ELCZ is affected in many ways by the current socioeconomic and It is relevant for the ELCZ in the current Zimbabwean politi- political downward mobility of Zimbabwe. The church as an cal context to work on the 2014 theme by going back to institution as well as individual Christians is experiencing Luther’s treatise on TA, which he delivered on January 1, insurmountable challenges to the extent that the church 1523 in Wittenberg. Instead of silence because of the imag- should respond theological to the Zimbabwean context. The ined separation between the church and the state, Luther ELCZ is voiceless in the Zimbabwean political situation gives pastoral advice to politicians. Luther offers pastoral claiming that the role of the church is to preach the word of care in the form of a Bible study on good political gover- God to save souls for the heavenly kingdom, and therefore, nance. Luther implores politicians saying, “I hope . . . I may theologically, it cannot confuse its ministry with earthily instruct the princes and the temporal authorities in such a issues by indulging in politics. The church seems to under- way that they will remain Christians—and Christ will remain stand preaching the word to be limited to sermons delivered Lord—and yet Christ’s commands will not for their sake on the pulpit. Saving souls then would mean salvation to go have to become mere counsels” (Lehmann & Atkinson, to heaven. In the ELCZ, if one raises issues of political 1962, p. 83; see also Lohse, 1999, p. 154). In this treatise, involvement by the church as an institution one is reminded Luther gives pastoral advice on good governance to politi- of the Two Kingdoms doctrine. According to the ELCZ’s cians of his time. He condemns politicians for acting as gods theological understanding of political ethics, it is sinful for a by making unreasonable demands on people’s conscience pastor to be a councilor or a member of parliament. On the and faith. On the other hand “. . . the subjects make the mis- other hand, the laity can hold political positions and still be take of believing that they, in turn, are bound to obey their respectable members of the church. However, the separation rulers in everything . . . I shall have to resist them, at least of political engagement from faith is suggesting that the sov- with words . . .” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 83). Luther ereignty of God over all realm of life including politics is is saying that people have no obligation to obey politicians being called into question. where there is abuse of power denigrating on human rights. Elsewhere Luther says, “The primary loyalty of ministers of Revisiting the Treatise on TA the word is to God and not to princes or the public . . .” (Luther -[WA] 31, p. 189). In this treatise, Luther was advo- The “Two Kingdoms Doctrine” is the foundation for the cating for a theology of résistance. ELCZ’s framework in designing the theology of Church and What Luther acknowledges is comparable with what is State relations. Nürnberger observes that Luther has influ- happening in current Zimbabwe and one would expect enced many generations of protestant thinkers. Nürnberger is Lutheran ministers to walk on the footsteps of Luther by giv- of the view that many variations of the Two Kingdoms ing pastoral political advice instead of silence. The impunity, Doctrine are found in different denominations across the arrogance, corruption, the level of abuse of human rights, world, and this makes Luther a popular and the level of authoritarianism that is managed through the use of the partisan police force and the army is beyond pivotal figure in Christian political ethics . . . But there is a description. Zimbabweans including religious leaders are second reason as well. Seldom in history has a Christian political ethic been so thoroughly misunderstood and abused as Luther’s controlled through fear. Yet Luther as a minister says that he Moyo 3 . . . as a result, the traditional picture of Luther’s ethics . . . is that In the edict of January 20, 1522, the Imperial Council of of conservatism, uncritical acceptance of state authoritarianism Regency condemned religious innovations such as commu- and ideological legitimation of totalitarian regimes (Nürnberger, nion in both kinds (bread and wine) and clerical marriage. 2005, pp. 244-245). Copies of the edict were sent to secular and ecclesiastical princes, who were urged to inflict severe penalties for infrac- Practical experiences with the ELCZ and a few other denom- tions of the decree within their territories (Lehmann & inations (examples of other denominations that have ver- Atkinson, 1962, pp. 77-78). Luther’s followers were system- sions of the Two Kingdoms theory that inhibit involvement atically compelled to renounce his books while some princes in politics are The Church of Christ, the Dutch Reformed were plotting to kill Luther for which they had legal authori- Church, the Salvation Army, Zimbabwe Assemblies of God zation because of the edict of Worms (Lehmann & Atkinson, Africa [ZAOGA], Apostolic Faith Mission [AFM], and 1962). On the other hand, there were princes who were Zionists) in Zimbabwe justify Nürnberger’s observations Christians who were not sure how to relate their political that this is often misunderstood, to the detriment of the offices to Christianity. The challenge was worsened by the involvement of the church in issues of good governance and interpretation, for example, of Romans 13:1 seen as in direct justice. The misunderstanding is often based on the fact that contradiction of Matthew 5: 31-41. Should Christian princes the theory is explained out of Luther’s unique context which then give up their political responsibilities to become true was different from many current economic, religious, social, Christians? Should there be church and state separation? and political situations (Nürnberger, 2005, pp. 244-245). It There was wide spread religious-political unrest which would be fair to Luther and to the Church to understand was attributed to Luther. For example, students were rioting Luther’s situation and the necessity for the theory in Luther’s and communities were plundering churches and monasteries time before transferring the theory to current contexts in (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). Luther urged his followers to Africa. desist from physical aggression. Luther boasted that “. . . he has done more harm to the papacy by his pen than was ever accomplished by the violent acts of emperors, kings, and The Religious-Political Context of princes” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. xiii). Luther Leading to the Treatise on TA Following the above challenges, Luther wrote his 1523 Luther deliberated on the issues of political governance at treatise on Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be the height of the explosive movement of the Reformation in Obeyed. He was responding to contextual religious and the 16th century by giving political ethical pastoral advice to sociopolitical challenges. the Political Authority (PA) on good governance. As chief Luther argues that TA originates from God, and therefore, initiator of the reformation, Luther was constantly called it is holy and should be obeyed. Luther supports his asser- upon to give advice and guidance to Christians in the prob- tions by giving biblical basis for TA. He also untangles the lems of everyday life as well as advice to his disciples in the seeming contradiction posed by different texts. Reformation movement and to a certain measure to his adversaries. The treatise on TA was a response to several Biblical References Founding TA concrete challenges. There was a need for Luther to clarify (Romans 13 and I Peter 2; Scripture Is his position regarding the relationship between TA and spiri- Used According to Luther’s Exegesis) tual authority (politics and the church). Luther denied that spiritual authority is exempt from the In the first part, Luther provides “. . . a sound basis for the jurisdiction of TA in 1520 in An Open Letter to the Christian civil law and sword so no one will doubt that it is in the world Nobility (Atkinson & Lehmann, 1966, pp. 123-217; Estes, by God’s will and ordinance” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, 2005, pp. 7-8). On the other hand, in 1521, at Worms, Luther p. 85). The central scripture is Romans 13:1ff: refused to comply with the order of the highest TA, the emperor, when he was asked to disown his publications Let every soul be subject to the governing authority, for there is (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). Luther chose to listen to God no authority except from God; the authority which everywhere rather than to humans. This can be seen as a form of politics exists has been ordained by God. He then who resists the of resistance in circumstances where the PA is not in agree- governing authority resists the ordinance of God, and he who resists God’s ordinance will incur judgement. ment with the spiritual authority. The question was how Christians should behave before the TA in the light of Luther’s Luther cites I Peter 2 13:14: “Be subject to every kind of teachings. How were Christians to respond to orders by rulers human ordinance, whether it be the king as supreme, or to forbidding them to own or read any of Luther’s books includ- governors, as those who have been sent by him to punish the ing the German translation of the New Testament? While wicked and praise the righteous.” Luther seems to be advo- struggling with political orders, many of Luther’s followers cating unquestioning obedience to political authority. Still, had difficulties in understanding certain scriptural injunctions the point is that Luther was engaging the political situation. such as Romans 13:1 and Matthew 5:39. 4 SAGE Open This is different from being silent; he was interpreting the anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also . . . And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two Bible from the basis of his situational experiences. miles. (Matt. 5:38ff) Luther’s Argument on TA From the Luther also cites Paul saying, “Beloved, defend not your- Old Testament (OT) selves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘ven- geance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). Luther says, “. . . the law of this temporal sword has existed Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies, do good to them from the beginning of the world” (Lehmann & Atkinson, that hate you.” Furthermore, Luther cites I Peter 3:9 “Do not 1962, p. 86). Cain, after killing Abel, was afraid of being return evil for evil . . . .” Luther was aware that such verses killed until God put a special sign on his forehead to suspend would imply that Christians were not supposed to have the the sword (Genesis 4:14-15). Abel would not have been temporal sword (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, pp. 45, 87). afraid if Adam had not taught him about the power of TA For the purpose of this article, it can be seen that Luther (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). After the flood, God estab- engaged scripture to theologically respond to his political lished the sword, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man situation. shall his blood be shed” (Genesis 9:6). The Law of Moses also says, Division of People Into Two Kingdoms If a man willfully kills another, you shall take him from my altar, of Believers and Unbelievers that he may die . . . a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a foot for a foot, a hand for a hand, a wound for a wound, According to Luther, believers are people that believe in a stripe for a stripe (Exodus 21:14, 23-25). Jesus and are baptized to be members of the Church. Unbelievers are those who do not believe in Jesus including This was an argument to show that the PA is ordained by God people of other faiths. Luther says, and should be obeyed as long as it obeys God. we must divide the children of Adam and all mankind into two classes, the first belonging to the kingdom of God, the second to Luther’s Argument on TA From the the kingdom of the world. Those who belong to the kingdom of New Testament (NT) God are all the true believers who are in Christ and under Christ (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 88). In the NT, Jesus says to Peter in the Garden, “He that takes the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52), and to Luther, Jesus came to the world to establish God’s kingdom and this means the same as Genesis 9:6 (Lehmann & Atkinson, Christ showed in his sermons that His kingdom was not of 1962, p. 87). John the Baptist, who was preaching the mes- this world. Luther says, “For this reason he came into the sage of repentance as a way of making the paths of the Lord world, that he might begin God’s kingdom and establish it in straight, did not condemn military service when he was asked the world” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 88). Jesus makes by soldiers what they should do in preparation for the coming references to his kingdom in many instances such as John Lord. John did pastoral care by teaching soldiers military eth- 18:36-37, Matthew 4:17, 10:7, and Matthew 6:33. According ics, “Do neither violence nor injustice to anyone, and be con- to Luther, Jesus also calls the gospel “a gospel of the king- tent with your wages” (Luke 3:14). Luther concludes that dom of God, because it teaches, governs, and upholds God’s John the Baptist was going to condemn soldiers for being sol- kingdom” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 88). Luther goes diers if it was against God’s will, but John taught them on on to engage with the question of the position of the believer how to be good soldiers (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). in politics. Therefore, according to Luther, both the OT and the NT are in agreement that God instituted TA. Luther, in engaging in the above debate, was doing his pastoral care ministry in Luther’s Discussion on Believers’ his socioeconomic and pastoral situation. Position in Politics According to Luther, people who belong to the kingdom of Opposing Scriptural Evidence on TA God have no need of the temporal sword because they have the Holy Spirit that teaches them to do justice and endure all Nevertheless, there seem to be some strong arguments injustice at the hands of others. Luther argues that in a situa- against the above understanding of the divine origin of TA. tion where there is nothing but the unadulterated doing of Luther acknowledges that in the sermon on the mountain right and bearing of wrong, there is no need for any law suit Jesus says, or sword (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). For this reason, You have heard that it was said of them of old: An eye for an eye, Luther would conclude that it is impossible that the PA and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist evil; but if law should find any work to do among Christians because Moyo 5 they do according to their will much more than any laws can TA helps to maintain outward worldly peace. By citing enforce, just as Paul says in I Timothy 1:9, “The law is not Romans 13:3, Luther argues that the temporal sword is not a laid down for the just but for the lawless” (Lehmann & threat to good conduct but to bad behavior. In this case, Atkinson, 1962, p. 89). Luther develops his thought by using an ideal typology of a Luther further says Christians are inclined and trained in Christian as a new sinless creation that is not threatened by their nature not to seek revenge but are prepared to endure the law, making it useless to Christians but valid to unbeliev- evil and suffer injustice, hence there is no need for a system ers. Luther uses I Peter 2:14 to substantiate that TA is for the to control or force them to behave this way. Luther uses the punishment of the wicked and the wicked are found in the analogy of a good tree, that it does not need any law or kingdom of the world and never in the kingdom of God. instruction to bear good fruits; it bears good fruits by its very On the other hand, Luther contends that there are few true nature. The law and the sword are not needed among believers who do not resist evil and indeed they do not do Christians and therefore the Sermon on the Mountain refers evil. Luther argues that anyone who tries to rule by the to true Christians and there is no contradiction with, for Gospel only and abolish the sword will lose control of the example, Romans 13:1 because according to Luther this ropes and the chains of the savage wild beasts and let them scripture refers to people who belong to the kingdom of the bite and mangle everyone, meanwhile insisting that they world. were harmless creatures. Many people conceal their true Luther goes on to raise another question: “Why, then, did being under the pretext of being called Christians. Luther God give so many commandments . . . and why does Christ holds that the wicked always outnumber the good and it is for prescribe in the gospel so many things for us to do” (Lehmann this reason that God has provided TA. He argues that, “Both & Atkinson, 1962, p. 89)? In response, Luther insists that the must be permitted to remain, the one to produce righteous- law has been laid down for the lawless (I Tim. 1:9) so that ness, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil none of the Christians can be restrained outwardly from evil deeds. Neither one is sufficient in the world without the deeds. No human is by nature righteous, and therefore, the other” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 92). The relationship law is to restrain human sinfulness and wickedness (Lehmann between the two governments is complementary because, & Atkinson, 1962). In addition, Paul ascribes to the law another function of teaching people to recognize sin in order where temporal government or law alone prevails, there sheer that it may make them humble unto grace and unto faith in hypocrisy is inevitable, even though the commandments be Christ (Romans 7:7-13 and Galatians 3:19). Furthermore, God’s very own . . . On the other hand, where the spiritual government alone prevails over land and people, there Luther says that Christ does the same in Matthew 5:39 by wickedness is given free rein and the door is open for all manner teaching that we must not resist evil; by this, he is interpret- of rascality. (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 92) ing the Hebrew-Mosaic law and teaching what ought to be the understanding of a true Christian (Lehmann & Atkinson, In light of the above, Christ’s words in Matthew 5 instruct 1962). Christians not to use the law among themselves. So the seemingly contradictory scriptures “. . . are spoken only of Luther on Nonbelievers true Christians, who really do this among themselves” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 93). Having said this, Luther Luther views nonbelievers as people who belong to the king- goes on to explain the reason why Christians are instructed dom of the world. People in the kingdom of the world are not by apostles to obey TA even if they do not need it for them- prepared by themselves to do what the state law demands, selves as advocated above. “. . . therefore they need the law to instruct, constrain, and compel them to do good” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 89). God subjects unbelievers to the law so that they are The Distinction for Oneself and for restrained from evil deeds, “. . . even though they would like One’s Neighbor to, they are unable to practice their wickedness, and if they practice it they cannot do so without fear of the sword or with Luther insists that the TA or the sword “is neither necessary success and impunity” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 90). nor useful” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 94) for personal According to Luther, if there was no TA, the world would be use by Christians. Christians do not need TA and the sword disorganized as unbelievers would behave like wild animals, for themselves, but they can serve TA for the benefit of oth- hence the need for restraint, ers as a ceaseless gift to them and not for personal gain. From an ethical perspective, a Christian should have more in the same way a savage wild beast is bound with chains and concern for the neighbor than for the self. Luther says, ropes so that it cannot bite and tear as it would normally do, even though it would like to, whereas a tame and gentle animal needs A true Christian lives and labors on earth not for himself alone no restraint, but is harmless despite the lack of chains and ropes but for his neighbor. Because the sword is most beneficial and (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 90). necessary for the whole world in order to preserve peace, punish 6 SAGE Open sin, and restrain the wicked . . . (A Christian) pays his taxes, Justification for Bearing the Sword by honors those in authority . . . and does all he can to assist the Christians governing authority that it may function and be held in honor (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 94). Luther says that the sword has no place among Christians because by virtue of the principles and values of their faith The Christian submits to and supports the temporal sword they do not it (the sword). However, Christians are obliged to willingly for the services it renders to society. So the Church serve and assist the sword by whatever means (Lehmann & should support the PA for the services it renders to society. Atkinson, 1962, p. 95), for the sake of the world and one’s Luther says that the services of the TA are essential and nec- neighbor. Therefore, Christians can become civil servants as essary for the benefit of others (Ephesians 5:21-6:9). a channel of service and servant-hood for the maintenance of Luther observes that Christians do a lot of works of love safety and peace for others. The Christian, at a personal level, that they do not need themselves such as visiting the sick and would be controlled by the gospel and submit to the PA feeding the hungry. In the same way, Christians serve the gov- according to Christ’s word (Matt. 5:39-40). In this way, the erning authority not because they need it but for the sake of seemingly contradictions are harmonized enabling the others that they may be protected. Christians do not lose any- Christian to satisfy both inwardly and outwardly the king- thing by serving and honoring the governing authority in the dom of God. The Christian outwardly suffers evil and injus- spirit of love for others. Luther refers to Matthew 17:27 as an tice while punishing evil and injustice, by not resisting evil, example that Jesus paid the half-shekel tax that he might not and yet at the same time resisting it (Lehmann & Atkinson, offend the political authority, even though he had no need to 1962). According to Luther, this shows how Christians can do so. Christians are by their nature expected to do pastoral bear the sword among non-Christians in a Christian manner. care to others including doing so through the political authority. The Limits of TA Luther observes in the words of Christ in Matthew 5 that Christians among themselves should have no temporal Having argued that TA has divine origins and is religiously sword. Jesus does not, however, forbid one to serve and be justifiably to be honored even by Christians, Luther goes on subject to those who do have the secular sword. Luther says, to teach about the limits of TA. One of the challenges was that bishops and princes wanted to use TA to counter heresy and Christ does not say, “you shall not serve the governing authority Luther felt that they were interfering where their authority or be subject to it,” but rather, “Do not resist an evil person” was not required. (Matt. 5:39), as much as to say, “Behave in such a way that you It is important for Christians to know the limits of TA; bear everything, so that you may not need the governing otherwise, it encroached upon God’s kingdom (Lehmann & authority to help you and serve you or be beneficial or essential Atkinson, 1962, p. 45). The two governments, the temporal for you, but that you in turn may help and serve it, being government and the spiritual government, according to Luther, beneficial and essential to it. I would have you be too exalted have two different kinds of law. Every kingdom must have its and far too noble to have any need of it; it should rather have own laws and constitution for the regulation of its affairs. In need of you” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 95). this case, according to Luther, one can justifiably talk about the political/civil use of the law as mandated to the TA, while At this point, Luther sees it as a Christian virtue to serve the theological use of the law is mandated to the church. and honor the governing authority for peace and justice in the kingdom of the world. Christians have a duty to protect human rights and human dignity. Christians should serve the The Theological Use of the Law government when it upholds peace and justice. If the PA does Luther postulates that the theological use of the law belongs not uphold peace and justice, Christians have no obligation to the kingdom of God under the kingship of Christ. In this to serve such a political authority. Peace and justice for all kingdom, God cannot allow anyone to rule the soul other than means equal dignity and protection by the law. Peace means Himself. The soul is the center of the human relationship with lack of disharmony enabling each person to develop to their God and this has nothing to do with TA. Luther says that any full potential without hindrances from other citizens or from man-made laws regarding the soul or spiritual life cannot be the state. said to be coming from God and therefore should not be used as if they come from God. Man-made laws should be used The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It is a comprehensive knowingly that they come from humans for worldly peace. concept that means wholeness, joy, freedom, reconciliation, Therefore, anyone else who claims to rule the soul or forces community, harmony of all creation—both physical and spiritual, righteousness, truth, justice, communication. (http:// the soul to believe anything without the word of God will be www.cofchrist.org/peace/). misleading the soul and at the same time committing a sin (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). It is true from experience that Furthermore, “Shalom is holistic and embraces all persons if another ruler imposes regulations in another kingdom, that and all creation . . .” (http://www.cofchrist.org/peace/). ruler will be violating territorial regulations and the king of Moyo 7 the violated kingdom will resist in some way. In matters that not able to make humans what they ought to be unless God concern the Christian’s relationship with God and the salva- redeems them through Christ. The spiritual government does tion of souls, Luther would not accept anything other than not enforce decrees by physical force, it uses the gospel God’s word when he says, (word and sacraments) through the power of the Holy Spirit given through grace and accepted by faith alone. When . . . it is the height of folly when they command that one shall accepted by God through Christ, we then participate in the believe the church, the fathers, and the councils, though there be righteousness of God in the strength of being served by no word of God for it . . . “Whoever speaks, let him speak as the Jesus. word of God” (I Pet. 4:11) . . . we are not baptised into kings . . . but into Christ and God himself . . . Therefore, in matters which concern the salvation of souls, nothing but God’s word shall be The Political Use of the Law taught and accepted. (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 106) The political use of the law is exercised through political authority, affecting the outward human being. At times, tem- The kingdom of God deals with the soul, PA has no power poral laws affect the spiritual law. For example, Daniel, to control the internal because it cannot see the heart. It is Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego had their religious con- God alone who can see the heart of human beings. Luther victions challenged by temporal law (Daniel 3:1-30). This thinks that it is illogical for the PA to be concerned about the aspect is meant to structure visible human life by protecting soul because it cannot kill it or give it life and because TA has and promoting good while limiting and punishing wrong. no control over the soul. It (TA) cannot destine souls to This brings about order and peace, but it cannot control heaven or to hell. Luther says, thoughts and feelings, hence the need for the theological use of the law. Lohse (1999) says, We cannot conceive how an authority could or should act in a situation except where it can see . . . That is reserved for God alone, as Psalm 7:9 says, “God tries the hearts and reigns” . . . By means of the political use, external order on earth is to be the thoughts and inclinations of the soul can be known to no one maintained, and the peace and the securing of justice preserved. but God (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, pp. 106-107). The law also has the task of inculcating the divine commandments and of instructing consciences. It also is to furnish the needed means by which to punish evildoers (p. 271). The PA cannot govern the spiritual realm even if it so wished, “. . . how dare the mad temporal authority judge and Luther does not limit the political use of the law to political control such a secret, spiritual, hidden matter as faith” governance but extends it to parents, teachers, and institu- (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 108). tions of learning. In his treatise To the Councilmen of All The soul is a matter between the individual and God who Cities in Germany that they establish and maintain Christian teaches through the gospel and the Holy Spirit to make schools (1524; Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, pp. 339-378), humans aware of their sins. The theological use of the law divulges that humans are sinners. Luther’s interpretation of Luther appealed to the PA to establish Christian schools for the law in a theological sense is based on Deuteronomy 6:5ff, molding good boys and girls so as to have good learned citi- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and zens for the future of the nation. Estes says that Luther, with all your soul, and with all your might . . . .” This implies advised the elector that all the abandoned monasteries and that the whole human being should be directed to God. foundations had automatically fallen under his authority as However, this is not the case; humans have a tendency to do prince and he thus had the duty . . . put their affairs in order, and wrong and are inwardly accused by God through the gospel. see to it that their resources were to support those churches and The law in the kingdom of God inwardly accuses sinning in schools not otherwise adequately endowed with income. the heart, in the soul and in the mind (Lohse, 1999). Moreover, he attributed to the elector, as “supreme guardian of Lohse (1999) describes Luther’s understanding of the the younger generation,” the power to compel communities who theological use of law by saying that the theological use of had the wherewithal to do so to “support schools, preacherships, the law is the ultimate task of the law as it introspectively and parishes” just as one would compel them “to contribute to convicts individuals of their wrongdoing before God and . . . the building of bridges and roads, or any other of the their neighbors. The theological use of the law convicts indi- country’s needs.” Otherwise “the land will be filled with wild, viduals and then goes on to torment their hearts as it seeks loose-living people” (Estes, 2005, p. 46). internal repentance without force from TA (See Gritsch & Lehmann, 1970; Luther 39, p. 456-457). The civil use of the law has to do with how people relate Such internal expositions of being inwardly inclined to to one another and their environment in everyday life, while sin prepare the inner being for longing for the gospel and the theological use of the law has to do with humanity’s rela- forgiveness of sins to produce righteousness. According to tionship with God through relating to one another. Luther is Luther, the law shows humans what they ought to be, but teaching both religious leaders and political leaders. Luther what they are not able to be on their own, and the law is also also engaged with the challenge of the role of Bishops. 8 SAGE Open earth, the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air” (Genesis The Roles of Bishops and Princes 1:26). According to Luther, scriptures clearly show that the Luther challenged Bishops and Princes who confused their external dimension is given to humanity, while the spiritual spirituality with their political authority. Such princes would dimension remains under God’s business. Peter in Acts 5:29 use TA to promote their spiritual roles and at the same time says, “We must obey God rather than men.” To Luther, this use spiritual authority to protect their TA. “clearly sets a limit to the temporal authority, for if we had to do everything that the temporal authority wanted there would For my ungracious Lords, the pope and the bishops, are supposed have been no point in saying, ‘We must obey God rather than to be bishops and preach God’s word. This they leave undone, men’” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 111). This argument, and have become temporal princes who govern with laws which according to Luther, gives power to those who are being gov- concern only life and property. They are supposed to be ruling erned to denounce political authorities that encroach on the souls inwardly by God’s word; so they rule castles, cities, lands, kingdom of God. Christians should obey PA if it justly serves and people outwardly, torturing souls with unspeakable outrages. the people; however, if it abuses the rights of citizens it is (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 109) supposed to be protecting and serving, then the church should denounce it and obey God. The temporal lords on the other hand are supposed to gov- ern lands and people outwardly, but unfortunately they are not doing this. Luther criticizes them strongly, saying that Wisdom Expected of a Christian Prince instead they strip and fleece, making people pay many unrea- (Politician) sonable taxes (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). According to Luther, a Christian prince should use TA just like There is no more any justice, integrity, or truth to be found any other Christian would use it for the benefit of the neighbor among them. They behave worse than any thief or scoundrel . . . and not for self-gain. A Christian prince is to exercise servant- For this reason God perverts their mind also, that they rush on hood leadership in political governance. Leadership should be into the absurdity of trying to exercise a spiritual rule over souls, directed at the benefit of others who otherwise would not have just as their counterparts try to establish a temporal rule. benefitted anything had it not been for one’s good leadership (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 109) (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 118). A prince should understand the law and good common Governors should know their sphere of authority; other- sense at the same time. The law must be used with firmness, wise, they are sinning against God if they overstep their man- reasoning, and Christian wisdom. In making judgments, a date. According to Luther, they are heaping alien sins upon good prince will use discretion in applying the law depend- themselves thereby incurring the anger of God and hatred of ing on the context of the accused or the accuser. For no mat- man, “. . . until they come to reign together with bishops, ter how good and impartial the laws are, they all make an popes, and monks, one scoundrel with the other” (Lehmann exception in the case of necessity, in the face of which they & Atkinson, 1962, p. 110). cannot insist upon being strictly enforced. Therefore, a prince must have the law as firmly in hand as the sword, and deter- The Meaning of Scripture on Issues mine in his own mind when and where the law is to be applied strictly or with moderation so that the law may pre- of TA in Relationship to the Spiritual vail at all times and in all cases, and reason must be the high- Authority est law and the master of all administration of law (Lehmann Luther uses Romans 13:1 and I Peter 2:13. He says that tem- & Atkinson, 1962). On this same note, punishment should be poral obedience and authority applies to external issues of exercised without causing injury to others. At times, the the law such as taxes and honor where human beings can “. . . prince, depending on the possible consequences, should be see, know, judge, evaluate, punish, and acquit” (Lehmann & able to ignore some offences, “He cannot govern who cannot Atkinson, 1962, pp. 110-111). wink at faults” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 124). Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:21 says, “Render to Caesar If the prince lacks the requisite wisdom to the point of the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are entirely depending upon advisors and law books, then that God’s.” External things such as body, property, and the con- land will be doomed. Such a prince should take the example ferring of honors are under the authority of Caesar and he has of King Solomon, who turned to God for wisdom to govern control over them, while on the other hand, spiritual things well (I Kings 3:9). If he then governs accordingly, God will and the soul are under Christ. grant him the ability to carry out all actions in a proper godly Luther gives an example from Psalms when King David manner (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). This way, he should said, “He has given heaven to the Lord of heaven, but the picture Christ to himself, and say, earth he has given to the sons of men” (Psalm 113 and 115:16). To strengthen his argument, Luther says God said, Christ . . . came to serve me; he did not seek to gain power, estate, “Let us make man to have dominion over the beasts of the and honor and from me, but considered only my need, and Moyo 9 directed all things to the end that I should gain power, estate, and says that a prince should not go to war against his king; honor from him and through him. I will do likewise, seeking from instead, the prince should offer confession and be prepared to my subjects not my own advantage but theirs. I will use my office suffer wrong for God’s sake. The prince should also offer to serve and protect them, listen to their problems and defend peace and justice to whoever wants to go to war with them them, and govern to the sole end that they, not I, may benefit and (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962). profit from my rule (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 120). In this case, a prince invokes the temporal sword to pro- tect his subjects and territory for the benefit of his people This is what Christ did in Philippians 2:7, and these are rather than himself and “. . . when victory has been achieved, proper works of a Christian prince. Luther understands lord- one should offer mercy and peace to those who surrender and ship as servant-hood to all and master to none. A Christian humble themselves” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 125). prince should therefore be a servant to all his subjects, and Luther goes on to answer one of the most challenging situa- this will take away most of the prevalent pleasures of prince tions in people’s relationship with their kings. “What if the hood resulting in self-sacrifice. Elsewhere, Luther says, “The prince is wrong? Are his people bound to follow him? No, second virtue of a prince is to help the poor, the orphans, and for it is no one’s duty to do wrong; we must obey God rather the widows to justice, and to further their cause” (Lehmann than men (Acts 5:29)” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 125). & Atkinson, 1962, p. 53). In other words, a prince should be However, if subjects do not know whether their prince is an advocate for the vulnerable. wrong they have to obey and this will not be considered as a sin by God. Luther goes on to say, “A prince must act in a Christian Politicians on the Use of Christian way toward his God also; that is, he must subject himself to Him in entire confidence and pray for wisdom to Advisors rule well, as Solomon did (I Kings 3:9)” (Lehmann & Following on the issue of wisdom, Luther says that a prince Atkinson, 1962, p. 126). should not depend completely upon advisers. A prince should In light of the above pastoral advice by Luther to practice control over appointees by delegating certain duties Christian princes, should the ELCZ not give practical polit- but should not completely entrust decision making to them. ical theological based advice to the government in situa- “. . . A prince should trust his officials and allow them to act, tions like when Zimbabwe went to war in the Democratic but only in such a way that he will keep the reins of govern- Republic of Congo (DRC)? According to Blair, “When ment in his own hands . . . ” (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. civil war erupted in the DRC in August 1998, Mugabe 121) because the failure of the appointees is the responsibil- decided that Zimbabwe must intervene. The parlous state of ity of the prince. Humans are not trustworthy unless they are his treasury meant that no money was available. filled with the Holy Spirit (see Gritsch & Lehmann, 1970). Nonetheless, he ended up sending 11, 000 troops” (Blair, Since one cannot know whether the Prince’s appointed advis- 2003, p. 41). Luther’s advice could also have been useful in ers are faithful Christians and trustworthy or not or how long giving pastoral advice during the war in which Zimbabwe they will remain so hence the danger of complete depen- was involved in Mozambique in the 1980s. On the 27th of dence on them. Even if one professes to be a Christian, you August 1985, Zimbabwe deployed troops in the Gorongoza cannot know because there are many who profess to be area of Mozambique to fight against the RENAMO, which Christian when in actual fact they are not, judging by their was destabilizing Mozambique. This was justified by the sinfulness. Luther gives the example of King David and argument that the troops were guarding the Beira Corridor Ahithophel. Luther observes that David had a wise coun- through which Zimbabwe accesses crude oil through the selor, Ahithophel whose advice was comparable with con- Feruka oil pipe line. The ELCZ could have based its practi- sulting God. However, Ahithophel betrayed David and cal advice on Luther’s advice on war by a political leader taught him that no advisor is to be completely trusted (II instead of silence. Samuel 16:23). However, God can be relied upon absolutely and will not let one down, whereas even if one wants to rely on humans absolutely, they are not totally reliable. The Law of Love and Restitution According to Luther, cases of restitution are what the tempo- Luther’s Advice to Christian Politicians ral sword is commonly concerned with. There is no better law than the law of love. In the case of restitution of goods on Warfare wrongfully acquired, Luther advises, On the question of whether a prince should go to war and whether citizens should follow him, Luther said that the If they are both Christians the matter is soon settled; neither will prince should use wisdom in deciding on whether to go to withhold what belongs to the other, and neither will demand that war or not. Furthermore, it depends upon the context; simi- it be returned. If only one of them is a Christian, namely, the one larly, the subjects of the prince can join or refuse to join the to whom restitution is due, it is again easy to settle, for he does prince in waging a war depending upon the context. Luther not care whether restitution is ever made to him. The same is 10 SAGE Open true if the one who is supposed to make restitution is a Christian, be a Christian, he had to follow this rule whether in his private for he will do so (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 127). capacity or in his political decision making (p. 252). In the above case, the Christian will be acting justly for the Natural and biblical law of love seems to agree with Luther’s benefit of the neighbor. This should also have raised some point of view because they both lead to the golden rule. Love theological pastoral debates in the ELCZ on the Land ques- protects the rights and needs of the offender and the offended tion, such as, What about the application of this idea of restitu- justly in a way that pleases God. tion in Zimbabwe between the colonialists and Zimbabweans who were dispossessed of their land? Conversely, one can ask Conclusion what about restitution to White commercial farmers who have Luther advocated that TA is meant for evildoers, those who been dispossessed of their land since 2000 by government belong to the kingdom of the world. Christians do not need without compensation? Were the colonialists Christian? Are TA for their own benefit but for the love of the neighbor. In Zimbabweans Christian? Would this kind of law of love and temporal matters, the TA has a divinely instituted right to be restitution be applicable in the Zimbabwean political situa- obeyed, but when it comes to matters of faith, it is only the tion? Debating these restitution issues by the ELCZ based on gospel that is supreme, and TA has no power. It is the duty of the teachings of Luther could have helped the church to mean- Christians to support the governance activities of TA, which ingfully engage in the political situation. In no way does the are instituted by God. teaching outlined by Luther advocate silence by the church. In developing the above theological discourses on TA, Luther goes on to give an example full of Christian love Luther was engaging with the TA in his context. Luther gives where the offended party is considerate of the welfare of the pastoral advice on good political governance advice to the offender despite the offence. He says, political authority. According to Luther, there is no room for If the debtor is poor and unable to make restitution, and the other silence by the spiritual authority in relation to the TA. The part is not poor, then you should let the law of love prevail and ELCZ should be propelled to intervene where there is abuse acquit the debtor; for according to the law of love the other party is of human rights because of the love of the neighbor. In in any event obliged to relinquish the debt and, if necessary, to give Zimbabwe, the gospel of love for the neighbor can be a tool him something besides. But if the debtor is not poor, then have him for reconciliation and political tolerance. restore as much as he can, whether it be all, a half, a third, or a This treatise also raises restitution issues that resonate fourth of it, provided that you leave him enough to assure a house, with the situation faced by Zimbabweans. Restitution is an food, and clothing for himself, his wife, and his children . . . if ongoing debate in Zimbabwe pertaining to the land ques- neither part is a Christian, or if one of them is unwilling to be tion, mineral resources, and businesses. The government judged by the law of love, then you may have them call in some wants to take away the above from Whites and give them other judge, and tell the obstinate one that they are acting contrary to Blacks without restitution to current owners. The church to God and natural law, even if they obtain a strict judgement in terms of human law (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, pp. 127-128). can give advice to Christians in government as well as non-Christians who are in danger of being dispossessed. To further his argument, Luther cites Luke 6:31 as an The treatise also gives advice to a Christian prince on when example of what love teaches us on how to treat others, as we and why one has to engage in a war. This advice can be would like to be treated ourselves. Luther argues that one’s used as a basis by the ELCZ in advising government when rights in the law of love can be suspended for the sake of the it participates in regional conflicts or when there is war other. Love and natural law can be used in dealing with cases between the government and its own citizens as has been both in the private and in the public domain leading to just the trend in current Zimbabwe. This treatise is a spring- judgments without the use of law books (Lehmann & board for political engagement in a pastoral manner by the Atkinson, 1962). Luther goes on to say: church. But when you ignore love and natural law you will never hit Declaration of Conflicting Interests upon the solution that pleases God . . . A good and just decision The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect must not and cannot be pronounced out of books, but must come to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. from a free mind, as though there were no books. Such a free decision is given, however, by love and by natural law, with Funding which all reason is filled. (Lehmann & Atkinson, 1962, p. 128) The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article. In this case, Nürnberger (2005) says, Notes Luther knew of only one guiding principle for our lives and that was self-giving love of Christ. Love demands responsibility for 1. All references from the Bible are taken from the New the welfare of one’s fellow human beings. If a Prince wanted to International Version (NIV). Moyo 11 2. WA stands for D. Martin Luthers’ Werke. Kritische The Luther decade. Available from http://www.lutherland-thuerin- Gesamtausgabe (Weimar, 1883). In Luther scholarship it has gen.de/en/the-luther-decade.html become acceptable to reference this as WA. (See Lehmann, Moyo, H. (2013). The investigation of the theological implications H. T., & Atkinson, J. (1962). Luther’s Works, Volume 45: The for the practical pastoral ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Christian in society 2. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press) p. x. Church in Zimbabwe posed by the political and socio-eco- 3. In this study, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe nomic decline in Zimbabwe (1980-2008). Pietermaritzburg, (ELCZ) is the church, so whenever the word church appears, it South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal. Nürnberger, K. (2005). Martin Luther’s message for us today: A refers to the ELCZ unless otherwise stated. perspective from the South. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: Cluster Publications. References Themes for the Luther decade. Retrieved from http://www.visit- Atkinson, J., & Lehmann, H. T. (1966). Luther’s Works, Volume luther.de/the-luther-decade/ http://www.visit-luther.de/the- 44: Christian in society I. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press. luther-decade/ Blair, D. (2003). Degrees in violence: Robert Mugabe and the strug- gle for power in Zimbabwe. London, England: Continuum. Author Biography Estes, J. M. (2005). Peace, order and the glory of God: Secular Herbert Moyo (Rev Dr) is a lecturer in Practical Theology at the authority and the church in the thought of Luther and University of KwaZulu-Natal in the School of Religion, Philosophy Melanchthon, 1518-1559. Boston, MA: Brill. and Classics in South Africa. His research interests are in issues of Gritsch, E. W., & Lehmann, H. T. (1970). Luther’s Works, Volume the church and social justice, religion and moral injury, Religion 39: Church and ministry I. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press. and governance, pastoral care from African perspectives, witchcraft Lehmann, H. T., & Atkinson, J. (1962). Luther’s Works, Volume and African spiritualities, death and dying and clinical pastoral edu- 45: The Christian in society 2. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press. cation. Rev Dr Moyo is an ordained minister in the Lutheran Lohse, B. (1999). Martin Luther’s theology: Its historical and sys- tematic development. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark. Church.
SAGE Open – SAGE
Published: Apr 7, 2016
Keywords: temporal authority; politics; violence; two kingdoms; Luther
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