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Luther on the Temporal Power

Already in 1520, Luther was making some rather foolish remarks about the civil power relative to the ecclesiastical:

Some think this [the task of Reformation] should be referred to a General Council. To this I say: No! For we have had many councils in which this has been proposed, namely, at Constance, Basel, and the last Roman Council; but nothing has been accomplished and things have grown ever worse....But this would be best, and the only remedy remaining, if kings, princes, nobility, cities and communities themselves began and opened a way for reformation, so that the bishops and clergy, who are now afraid, would have reason to follow.

On the other hand, it's readily apparent that the Church has only itself (not Luther, or even the Reformers as a whole) to blame for the rise of the modern state, because it was only because it was unwilling to go to the work of reforming itself that they were summoned to take charge.

I like this, though, a few paragraphs further:
Therefore, also, the temporal power is a very small thing in God's sight, and far too slightly regarded by Him, that for its sake, whether it do right or wrong, we should resist, become disobedient and quarrel. On the other hand, the spiritual power is an exceeding great blessing, and far too precious in HIs eyes, that the very least of Christians should endure and keep silent, if it departs a hair's breadth from its own duty, not to say when it does the very opposite of its duty, as we now see it do every day.



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