Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Luther and Civil Authority.

M. Luther* approached the concept of state as authority and power (Ger. Obrigkeit) rather than as community of citizens. He called such authority God's kingdom of the left hand (WA 36, 385), a realm in which God is at work, directing the rule for His purposes (WA 30 I, 136, 152; 42, 129). Powers in ch. and state are under God, who is the ultimate authority (WA 51, 240; cf. 2, 16; 6, 415; 19, 656–658). The authority of the state is est. in the 4th Commandment (LC, 141). To serve in govt. is a noble task. Citizens owe obedience to govt. except when it overreaches itself and tyranically interferes in matters of faith (cf. Jn 19:10–11; WA 28, 286, 359–363). The Luth. Confessions follow Luther in distinguishing bet. ch. and state on basis of function. The ch. operates with the Word, the state with the sword (AC XXVIII). See also Church and State, 10 and bibliography.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online