The Apostle Peter wrote: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority. . . . Show proper respect to everyone; love the brotherhood of believers; fear God, honor the King” (1 Peter 3:13, 17).

Martin Luther

Martin Luther said that good government was one of God’s great gifts.  Paul Althaus gives us an explanation of Luther’s ideas about government in a book called “The Ethics of Martin Luther”.  He writes, “God rules the world in a twofold way, at least insofar as his rule is visible to the eyes of faith.  But the ruling that is visible does not exhaust God’s lordship. As always, Luther distinguishes between the hidden and the revealed God. It is according to his majesty that God works all in all, but this omnipotent lordship — like God’s majesty in general — cannot be comprehended by us men.  However, here we are not speaking of God’s hidden government but of that revealed government which faith can know about. In this context, God has established two governments,the spiritual and the secular, or earthly, temporal, physical.  This secular government serves to preserve external secular righteousness; it thus also preserves this physical, earthly, temporal life and thereby preserves the world. The spiritual government helps men to achieve true Christian righteousness and therewith eternal life; it thus serves the redemption of the world.  Godprovides secular government throughout the whole world even among the heathen and the godless; but he gives his spiritual government only to his people.” 

For Luther government – secular government was basically to protect and uphold the innocent and the hardworking, and punish the doers of evil.


Today as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day reading Luther can be a chore.  On the one hand he confronts Governments that are arbitrary and dictatorial and on the other hand he tells Christians that they NEVER have the right to overthrow authority. 

“For as theologians we are obliged to teach that a Christian is not to offer resistance but to suffer everything. Nor is he to plead the shift: It is permissible to repel force by force. If, therefore, the Jurists are right in saying that a Christian may offer resistance, not as a Christian but as a citizen or member of the body politic, we let that pass…. But our office will not allow our advising a member of the body politic to offer such resistance, nor are we acquainted with their statute law. They will have to take this responsibility upon their conscience — Martin Luther, writing to Lazarus Spengler in Nurenberg, March 18, 1531, in a letter titled “Resistance Supported Legally, Not Theologically.”

One has to wonder what Luther would have said about the American Revolution (the Declaration of Independence I believe is the forefathers effort to convince the world that British rule of the colonies was not a “duly constituted authority”) from a theological perspective.

I would love to know what he would think about the government shut down in the State of Minnesota.  I hear that Giants Ridge golf courses have closed because of the government shut down.  What golf courses have to do with protecting the innocent and punishing the evildoer is beyond me but maybe after the shut down is over we can all go back and try and remember why Government, even State governments, are “good gifts of God”.  In the meantime contemplate this blog or tweet or whatever from Jeff Shelman.

“I had no idea that Giants Ridge was owned by the State of Minnesota. But it is owned by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).  According to a tweet from Minnesota Public Radio reporter Tom Scheck, the Giants Ridge golf courses will be closed if there is no state budget solution and the government shuts down at midnight.
Here’s a little quick Giants Ridge background from the resort’s website:
In 2009-2010, reviews and rankings by Golf Digest The Quarry ranked #1 and The Legend ranked #3 in “The Best Public Golf Courses in Minnesota.” On a national level, The Quarry ranked #20 and The Legend #72 in “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” by Golf Digest for the same period. Very few golf resorts can claim more than one course in their “Top 100.”
So I hope that if you have July 4 golf plans, it isn’t at Giants Ridge. If it is, you might want to find a new place to play.
And what happens to the people who are already checked in at the resort? Do they get booted out at midnight?”

Interesting stuff this. For a State Government that is essentially bankrupt, is running a golf course a money maker or a loss leader?  Are the caddies public employees?  Does the beer cart girl get a State pension?  If not, why not?   Are the clubs and accessories and carts, government property?  Inquiring minds want to know.  In the meantime, Happy 4th.