25 January 2009


In reading a source letter from Martin Luther, responding to a peasant uprising, I find a particular warning very helpful. The peasants were scripturally backing and defending their demands as Christian. Luther, after attending to the rulers, then deals with the peasants:

“I say all this, dear friends, as a faithful warning. In this case you should rid yourselves of the name of Christians and cease to boast of Christian law. For no matter how right you are, it is not for a Christian to appeal to law, or to fight, but rather to suffer wrong and endure evil; and there is no other way (1 Cor 6). You yourselves confess in your Preface, that all who believe in Christ become kindly, peaceful, patient, and united; but in your deeds you are displaying nothing but impatience, turbulence, strife and violence; thus you contradict your own words. You want to be known as patient people, who will endure neither wrong nor evil, but will endure what is right and good. That is fine patience! Any knave can practice that! It does not take a Christian to do that! Therefore I say again, however good and right your cause may be, nevertheless, because you would defend yourselves, and suffer neither violence nor wrong, you may do anything that God does not prevent, but leave the name of Christian out of it; leave out, your impatient, disorderly, un-Christian undertaking. I shall not let you have that name, but so long as there is a heartbeat in my body, I shall do all I can to take that name from you. You will not succeed, or will succeed only in ruining your bodies and souls.”
Then later:
“For Christians fight for themselves not with a sword and gun, but with the cross and with suffering, just as Christ, our leader, does not bear a sword, but hangs on a cross…”

I think that Luther shows great wisdom and pastoral discernment in diffusing this difficult situation. That we may have ears to hear such hard words now. Amen.

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