Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Prince's Vocation

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther:
Of course, a prince can be a Christian, but he must not rule as a Christian; and insofar as he does rule, his name is not "Christian" but "prince." The person is indeed a Christian, but his office or his princedom does not involve his Christianity. Insofar as he is a Christian, the Gospel teaches him not to do injury to anyone and to put up with any injury or injustice that may be done him. This, I say, is the Christian's duty. But it would not make for a good administration if you were to preach that sort of thing to the prince. This is what he has to say: My status as a Christian is something between God and myself. It has its own directions about how I should live in relation to Him. But above and beyond this I have another status or office in the world: I am a prince. The relation here is not one between God and this person but between me and my land and people. The issue here is not how you should live in relation to God, what you should do and what you should tolerate for yourself. That applies to you as a Christan person who is not involved with land and people. But this is not the business of your princely person, which should not do any of these things but should think about the administration of the government, the maintenance and protection of justice and peace, and the punishment of the wicked.
Ewald M. Plass, compiler, What Luther Says: A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, (St. Louis: CPH, 1959) §675, 227-8.

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