From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Invocation of Saints
Therefore, most excellent Emperor Charles, for the sake of the glory of Christ, which we have no doubt that you desire to praise and magnify, we urge you not to assent to the violent counsels of our adversaries, but to seek other honorable ways of establishing harmony, so that godly consciences are not burdened, and that no cruelty is exercised against innocent people as we have seen before, and that sound doctrine is not suppressed in the Church. To God, most of all, you have the duty to maintain sound doctrine, and to hand it down to the next generation, and to defend those who teach what is right. God demands this when he honors kings with his own name and calls them gods: “I say, ‘You are gods’” (Psa 82:6). Kings should attend to the preservation and propagation of divine things on earth—namely the Gospel of Christ—and as vicars of God, they should defend the life and safety of the innocent.
Pulling It Together
The Augsburg Confession and its Apology, or defense, urged the emperor to find a way to maintain harmony in the empire. The point of such concord was that orthodoxy could prevail in the churches and that people be protected from those who wished otherwise. The Lutherans maintained that this was the emperor’s responsibility, that his rule was maintained by God and so, he owed it to God to rule righteously.
The purpose of government is to maintain God’s will on earth. Specifically, our leaders are to do two things: maintain the faith and protect the people. They stretch their responsibility when they move beyond this two-fold charge. Let them do these things well, and they will have enough to do.
Prayer: Help our leaders and me, Holy Spirit, to turn from evil and do good, to seek peace and pursue it. Amen.
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