Reformation and Government

The Reformation shaped how people would view government.

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Romans 13:7

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

The year 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of what most people consider the start of the Protestant Reformation.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted what he called “meine Propositiones” (“my propositions”) but they are more commonly called The 95 Theses.

Luther’s original intention was to have a scholarly debate on the sale of indulgences. An indulgence was the “remission of part or all of the temporal and especially purgatorial punishment that according to Roman Catholicism is due for sins whose eternal punishment has been remitted and whose guilt has been pardoned (as through the sacrament of reconciliation)” (definition according to the Merriam-Webster diction, © 2017 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated).

The Roman Catholic Church in the early 1500’s was selling indulgences to – ultimately – pay for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

As Luther poured through Scripture in the early 1500’s he came to the conclusion that the selling of indulgences was not Scriptural and, in fact, clearly against Scripture.

Instead of a debate, Luther received excommunication. And the Reformation was started.

It is clear that the Reformation had a direct influence on both European and North American formation of government and the direction of Western Civilization from that point forward.

Many Luther scholars believe that Luther himself would have opposed the revolutions that came – specifically the French and American Revolutions in the 18th Century.

Still, the Reformation started by Luther (and others) greatly impacted both. The Reformation shaped how people would view government. Not as necessarily evil, but clearly as instituted by God.

The same Epistle that opened the Gospel to Luther also reinforced that all people owe their governments respect, honor, and yes, even revenue and taxes!

For Luther, doing so would be one way that a Christian gives honor to God.

We should also be thankful for the government, especially one that is honorable and establishes (and ensures) peace.

For under such a government, a Christian is free to worship as they please and has the freedom to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ openly and in relative safety.

That is the purpose of government, to ensure the safety of its citizens. If we have peace and safety, let us take advantage of it to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ far and wide!

But let us not rely on the peace and safety of government to proclaim the Gospel. Instead, let us proclaim the Gospel whether the government helps us or not.

In all things we give thanks to God!


Heavenly Father, thank you for the government you establish. I pray for all elected and appointed officials in our government, that they conform their lives to your will. Give all of us peace and safety so that we can proclaim to all the Gospel; in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2017 True Men Ministries

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