Author Topic: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation  (Read 5496 times)

Jim_Krauser

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A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« on: October 12, 2012, 12:14:33 AM »
In the context of the election season, do the paragraphs below hold up?  Are these principles that transcend nearly 500 years and in a very different polity?  Do we explictly teach these in any way?  Would our Lutheran church bodies still affirm them today? 
 
I plan on reading the first excerpt to the congregation on the first Sunday in November in preface to a prayer for the country as we go to the polls.

 
      But God sustains government and through it gives peace and punishes and guards against the wicked, so that we may support wife and children, bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of God, have security in our homes and on the streets, that each may help the other, and communicate and live with another. Such gifts are altogether of heaven, and God desires that we consider and recognize them as gifts of God. He desires us to honor government as a servant of his and to show gratitude to it because through it God gives us such great benefits.
     Whoever, thus, might see God in government, would have sincere love towards government. Whoever could estimate the blessings which we receive through government, would be heartily thankful toward government. If you knew that someone had saved your child from death, you would thank him warmly. Why then are you not grateful to the government which saves you, your children, your wife, daily from murder? If the government did not restrain the wicked, when could we be secure? Therefore when you look on wife and children, bear in mind that these are gifts of God which you may possess through the government. And as you love your children, you should also love the government. Because the common man does not acknowledge such blessings as peace, justice, and punishment of the wicked, we need often to remind him of them and diligently to explain them to him. 
 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 283). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


The people are also to be exhorted to pay honestly and willingly the tax imposed on each. Even if some obligations are heavy each one is bound to pay on account of his duty and his obedience to government so that peace may rule throughout the land. For what else is unwillingness to pay tax or render service than giving rise to thievery and murder?
     So they especially who bear the name of Christian should do this in love which willingly bears all burdens, and gives beyond what is due, which pays, even when burdened unjustly, and seeks no revenge through its own powers, as Christ teaches in Matt. 5[:39]. We ought to bring honor to the holy gospel by paying honestly, as a matter of course, so that the holy gospel is not slandered and disgraced as happens in the case of those who claim in the name of the holy gospel to be free from tithes and other temporal burdens. 

 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 286-287). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 

 
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 12:28:05 AM by Jim_Krauser »
Jim Krauser

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Scott6

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 12:34:58 AM »
In the context of the election season, do the paragraphs below hold up?  Are these principles that transcend nearly 500 years and in a very different polity?  Do we explictly teach these in any way?  Would our Lutheran church bodies still affirm them today? 
 
I plan on reading the first excerpt to the congregation on the first Sunday in November in preface to a prayer for the country as we go to the polls.

 
      But God sustains government and through it gives peace and punishes and guards against the wicked, so that we may support wife and children, bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of God, have security in our homes and on the streets, that each may help the other, and communicate and live with another. Such gifts are altogether of heaven, and God desires that we consider and recognize them as gifts of God. He desires us to honor government as a servant of his and to show gratitude to it because through it God gives us such great benefits.
     Whoever, thus, might see God in government, would have sincere love towards government. Whoever could estimate the blessings which we receive through government, would be heartily thankful toward government. If you knew that someone had saved your child from death, you would thank him warmly. Why then are you not grateful to the government which saves you, your children, your wife, daily from murder? If the government did not restrain the wicked, when could we be secure? Therefore when you look on wife and children, bear in mind that these are gifts of God which you may possess through the government. And as you love your children, you should also love the government. Because the common man does not acknowledge such blessings as peace, justice, and punishment of the wicked, we need often to remind him of them and diligently to explain them to him. 
 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 283). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


The people are also to be exhorted to pay honestly and willingly the tax imposed on each. Even if some obligations are heavy each one is bound to pay on account of his duty and his obedience to government so that peace may rule throughout the land. For what else is unwillingness to pay tax or render service than giving rise to thievery and murder?
     So they especially who bear the name of Christian should do this in love which willingly bears all burdens, and gives beyond what is due, which pays, even when burdened unjustly, and seeks no revenge through its own powers, as Christ teaches in Matt. 5[:39]. We ought to bring honor to the holy gospel by paying honestly, as a matter of course, so that the holy gospel is not slandered and disgraced as happens in the case of those who claim in the name of the holy gospel to be free from tithes and other temporal burdens. 

 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 286-287). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes?  That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?

Jim_Krauser

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 12:54:50 AM »

Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes? That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?
No, no one would abandon those primary roles for government.  But the appreciation of and thankfulness for government (not to be confused with "I love my country" patriotism) seems on the wane. 
Where is the love of govenment (as opposed to country)? 
Where is the positive affirmation of government  in our church life, personal life, political life?
Jim Krauser

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George Erdner

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 12:59:14 AM »
In the context of the election season, do the paragraphs below hold up?  Are these principles that transcend nearly 500 years and in a very different polity?  Do we explictly teach these in any way?  Would our Lutheran church bodies still affirm them today? 
 
I plan on reading the first excerpt to the congregation on the first Sunday in November in preface to a prayer for the country as we go to the polls.

 
      But God sustains government and through it gives peace and punishes and guards against the wicked, so that we may support wife and children, bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of God, have security in our homes and on the streets, that each may help the other, and communicate and live with another. Such gifts are altogether of heaven, and God desires that we consider and recognize them as gifts of God. He desires us to honor government as a servant of his and to show gratitude to it because through it God gives us such great benefits.
     Whoever, thus, might see God in government, would have sincere love towards government. Whoever could estimate the blessings which we receive through government, would be heartily thankful toward government. If you knew that someone had saved your child from death, you would thank him warmly. Why then are you not grateful to the government which saves you, your children, your wife, daily from murder? If the government did not restrain the wicked, when could we be secure? Therefore when you look on wife and children, bear in mind that these are gifts of God which you may possess through the government. And as you love your children, you should also love the government. Because the common man does not acknowledge such blessings as peace, justice, and punishment of the wicked, we need often to remind him of them and diligently to explain them to him. 
 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 283). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


The people are also to be exhorted to pay honestly and willingly the tax imposed on each. Even if some obligations are heavy each one is bound to pay on account of his duty and his obedience to government so that peace may rule throughout the land. For what else is unwillingness to pay tax or render service than giving rise to thievery and murder?
     So they especially who bear the name of Christian should do this in love which willingly bears all burdens, and gives beyond what is due, which pays, even when burdened unjustly, and seeks no revenge through its own powers, as Christ teaches in Matt. 5[:39]. We ought to bring honor to the holy gospel by paying honestly, as a matter of course, so that the holy gospel is not slandered and disgraced as happens in the case of those who claim in the name of the holy gospel to be free from tithes and other temporal burdens. 

 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 286-287). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 



Has anyone ever said that no one should pay taxes, or that we should not have governments? You raise a straw man issue. The current public debate is over how to divide the taxes among the people being taxed. It is a question of whether taxes should be levied in order to redistribute the wealth by taking it from those with much in order to give to those with less, or should taxes only be levied to raise the funds needed for the government to function. Those are two very different positions on what taxes should be levied, but neither argument says no one should pay taxes.


So, pray tell, just how does what Luther said (in a time and place when leaders were not elected by the people) relate to the issues that are part of this current election season?



Scott6

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2012, 01:31:02 AM »

Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes? That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?
No, no one would abandon those primary roles for government.  But the appreciation of and thankfulness for government (not to be confused with "I love my country" patriotism) seems on the wane. 
Where is the love of govenment (as opposed to country)? 
Where is the positive affirmation of government  in our church life, personal life, political life?

Again, I find no one debating the issues you raise here.  That we should have a government that protects us is nowhere in debate.

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2012, 01:55:30 AM »
Everyone who thanks a soldier for his service expresses love for the government. Same with demands to enforce the borders, "tough on crime" political campaigns, and praises of the entreprenuership that results in copyrights and patents; all are hymns to government. I saw an interesting rejoinder a few weeks ago, one I agree with. A liberal had made the point that government was just a word for what we do together, and a conservative rebutted that commerce is the word for what we do together voluntarily. Government is the word for what we are coerced into doing together.

In the end, most of liberalism is simply the hubris and envy of very smart and educated people looking with disdain at a rich guy and saying, "I could do great things with that guy's money."

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 01:59:40 AM »
In the context of the election season, do the paragraphs below hold up?  Are these principles that transcend nearly 500 years and in a very different polity?  Do we explictly teach these in any way?  Would our Lutheran church bodies still affirm them today? 
 
I plan on reading the first excerpt to the congregation on the first Sunday in November in preface to a prayer for the country as we go to the polls.

 
      But God sustains government and through it gives peace and punishes and guards against the wicked, so that we may support wife and children, bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of God, have security in our homes and on the streets, that each may help the other, and communicate and live with another. Such gifts are altogether of heaven, and God desires that we consider and recognize them as gifts of God. He desires us to honor government as a servant of his and to show gratitude to it because through it God gives us such great benefits.
     Whoever, thus, might see God in government, would have sincere love towards government. Whoever could estimate the blessings which we receive through government, would be heartily thankful toward government. If you knew that someone had saved your child from death, you would thank him warmly. Why then are you not grateful to the government which saves you, your children, your wife, daily from murder? If the government did not restrain the wicked, when could we be secure? Therefore when you look on wife and children, bear in mind that these are gifts of God which you may possess through the government. And as you love your children, you should also love the government. Because the common man does not acknowledge such blessings as peace, justice, and punishment of the wicked, we need often to remind him of them and diligently to explain them to him. 
 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 283). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


The people are also to be exhorted to pay honestly and willingly the tax imposed on each. Even if some obligations are heavy each one is bound to pay on account of his duty and his obedience to government so that peace may rule throughout the land. For what else is unwillingness to pay tax or render service than giving rise to thievery and murder?
     So they especially who bear the name of Christian should do this in love which willingly bears all burdens, and gives beyond what is due, which pays, even when burdened unjustly, and seeks no revenge through its own powers, as Christ teaches in Matt. 5[:39]. We ought to bring honor to the holy gospel by paying honestly, as a matter of course, so that the holy gospel is not slandered and disgraced as happens in the case of those who claim in the name of the holy gospel to be free from tithes and other temporal burdens. 

 Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 286-287). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 


Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes?  That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?


The debate seems to be where should such protection come from. At one extreme would be the federal government providing the funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked. At the other extreme would be each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property. In the middle are the state and local governments providing protection and punishment.


I have a member who served as a military police. He has firearms and a stockpile of ammunition to protect himself and his wife. The former chief of police is a member. His wife works for the sheriff's department. A member works for the highway patrol. We've had some who work for the federal border patrol. In addition, the Indian reservations have their own police forces, the Marine base has it's own police force -- and the marines themselves are a federal enforcement agency.


Do we need all these different governments and agencies - which all cost money -- to refrain and punish evil, to protect life and property, to provide a reasonable level of peace in our land? Could we get by without the federal government and just rely on state governments (which would make us more like Europe)? Could we get by without state governments and cede everything over to the federal government to remove duplication of efforts?


Then there can be arguments about which form of government is the best. Democracy is about the least efficient form of government. Giving a king (or pope) the authority to make decisions is much more efficient than trying to get a majority of people to agree about something. I don't know who first said it, but I like this quote: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest."
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Scott6

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2012, 02:05:48 AM »
The debate seems to be where should such protection come from. At one extreme would be the federal government providing the funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked. At the other extreme would be each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property. In the middle are the state and local governments providing protection and punishment.

This is one of the least insightful things I've read in quite a while (and explains why I have been skipping any of Brian's postings for over two years now), to put it kindly.

Alright, to be blunt, the idea that any credible politician would advocate that we just should arm ourselves and enforce our own laws sans governmental funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked (i.e., "each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property") as we will is stupid.  No one claims this.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 02:08:41 AM by Scott Yakimow »

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 02:19:33 AM »
The debate seems to be where should such protection come from. At one extreme would be the federal government providing the funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked. At the other extreme would be each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property. In the middle are the state and local governments providing protection and punishment.

This is one of the least insightful things I've read in quite a while (and explains why I have been skipping any of Brian's postings for over two years now), to put it kindly.

Alright, to be blunt, the idea that any credible politician would advocate that we just should arm ourselves and enforce our own laws sans governmental funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked (i.e., "each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property") as we will is stupid.  No one claims this.


Did you miss "at the other extreme"? It's an extremist position -- and there are such people with such extreme views. Seldom are they elected to government positions. I purposely used extreme examples, which on the bell-shaped curve are usually considered the positions or actions of "sick" people. Healthy ones are somewhere in the middle of the graph; which in my examples would put local government against broader government, e.g., city vs. state; state vs. federal.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 02:28:33 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Jim_Krauser

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2012, 02:20:12 AM »

Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes? That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?
I'm not talking merely about the functions of government, but our attitudes toward government itself.  An appreciation of and thankfulness for government (not to be confused with "I love my country" patriotism) seems on the wane.   
Is there among Lutheran Christians a love of government (as opposed to love of country)? 
Where is the positive affirmation of government in our church life, personal life, political life?

Again, I find no one debating the issues you raise here.  That we should have a government that protects us is nowhere in debate.
Would you deny that there is a great deal of cynicism and disdain for government (as not just politicians)?     
Over the last 30 years, sound bites such as 
"government isn't the solution, government is the problem,"
"I want to shrink government so small that you can drown it in a bathtub,"
"the most frightening words in the English language:  I'm from the government and I'm here to help"
have become rallying cries for some and resonate with large segments of our society.   
Don't the priciples encouraged upon the preachers by the visitors suggest that the church in some way needs to challenge the above attitudes and instead promote an attitude of thankfulness to government for its role in helping and supporting its citizens and our neighbors in their need?
Another reference from the Instructions:
"The preachers, accordingly, should faithfully remind the authorities to maintain peace, justice, and security for their subjects, to defend the poor, the widow, and the orphaned...." LW 40, p. 284
Again I'm not saying we debate the idea the role of governement in provding security.  I'm asking how and when do we positively affirm it, celebrate it and give thanks for it in the church.  When and where do we teach an attitude of honor, respect, and obedience for government?  When and where do we teach an obligation to pray for or bless the government?  (And not like the "proper blessing for the Tsar" from Fiddler on the Roof  "May God bless and keep the Tsar---far away from us!")  Do we teach (along with our stewardship campaigns for church offerings) the duty of paying taxes?  All of this should come up in Catechism instruction regarding the Fourth Commandment.  But is it part of the piety, life of faith that we inculcate?  If we asked the average person in the pew to say what does the church teach about government?  How would they respond?  Would it resemble this?
"...that we obey the government.  In Romans 13 Paul enumerates three points concerning government. 
    "First, the payment of taxes, namely that each shall give the authroities such money and labor as is required of him [Rom. 13:6f].
    "Second, respect, that is, that we have sincere respect for government. ...
    "The third duty we owe government is honor.  For how can we imagine that we have paid the government something when we have given it tax or tithe or served it with physical labor?  God requires of us a much higher service toward the government, namely, honor...."

LW 40, p. 281-2
 
 
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 02:23:25 AM »
"...that we obey the government.  In Romans 13 Paul enumerates three points concerning government. 
    "First, the payment of taxes, namely that each shall give the authroities such money and labor as is required of him [Rom. 13:6f].
    "Second, respect, that is, that we have sincere respect for government. ...
    "The third duty we owe government is honor.  For how can we imagine that we have paid the government something when we have given it tax or tithe or served it with physical labor?  God requires of us a much higher service toward the government, namely, honor...."

LW 40, p. 281-2


A problem with Luther's approach is that Romans 13 needs to be balanced with Revelation 13 where a quite different picture of government is presented.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 02:24:45 AM »
The debate seems to be where should such protection come from. At one extreme would be the federal government providing the funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked. At the other extreme would be each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property. In the middle are the state and local governments providing protection and punishment.

This is one of the least insightful things I've read in quite a while (and explains why I have been skipping any of Brian's postings for over two years now), to put it kindly.

Alright, to be blunt, the idea that any credible politician would advocate that we just should arm ourselves and enforce our own laws sans governmental funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked (i.e., "each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property") as we will is stupid.  No one claims this.


Did you miss "at the other extreme"? It's an extremist position -- and there are such people with such extreme views. Seldom are they elected to government positions. I purposely used extreme examples, which on the bell-shaped curve are usually considered the positions or actions of "sick" people. Healthy ones are some where in the middle of the graph; which in my examples would put local government against broader government, e.g., city vs. state; state vs. federal.
And to my purpose:  when persons advocate suspicion of the authorities or government or fear of the government (particularly to the point of arming themselves against it, but perhaps even before that point) or even contempt or disdain for the government. are we not obligated to call that sin?
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

Scott6

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 02:28:58 AM »

Do you see somebody arguing that we shouldn't have police or otherwise restrain the wicked?  That we shouldn't have secure homes? That we aren't interested in peace in the United States, justice or punishment of the wicked?

Are these really in debate?
I'm not talking merely about the functions of government, but our attitudes toward government itself.  An appreciation of and thankfulness for government (not to be confused with "I love my country" patriotism) seems on the wane.   
Is there among Lutheran Christians a love of government (as opposed to love of country)? 
Where is the positive affirmation of government in our church life, personal life, political life?

Again, I find no one debating the issues you raise here.  That we should have a government that protects us is nowhere in debate.
Would you deny that there is a great deal of cynicism and disdain for government (as not just politicians)?     
Over the last 30 years, sound bites such as 
"government isn't the solution, government is the problem,"
"I want to shrink government so small that you can drown it in a bathtub,"
"the most frightening words in the English language:  I'm from the government and I'm here to help"
have become rallying cries for some and resonate with large segments of our society.   
Don't the priciples encouraged upon the preachers by the visitors suggest that the church in some way needs to challenge the above attitudes and instead promote an attitude of thankfulness to government for its role in helping and supporting its citizens and our neighbors in their need?
Another reference from the Instructions:
"The preachers, accordingly, should faithfully remind the authorities to maintain peace, justice, and security for their subjects, to defend the poor, the widow, and the orphaned...." LW 40, p. 284
Again I'm not saying we debate the idea the role of governement in provding security.  I'm asking how and when do we positively affirm it, celebrate it and give thanks for it in the church.  When and where do we teach an attitude of honor, respect, and obedience for government?  When and where do we teach an obligation to pray for or bless the government?  (And not like the "proper blessing for the Tsar" from Fiddler on the Roof  "May God bless and keep the Tsar---far away from us!")  Do we teach (along with our stewardship campaigns for church offerings) the duty of paying taxes?  All of this should come up in Catechism instruction regarding the Fourth Commandment.  But is it part of the piety, life of faith that we inculcate?  If we asked the average person in the pew to say what does the church teach about government?  How would they respond?  Would it resemble this?
"...that we obey the government.  In Romans 13 Paul enumerates three points concerning government. 
    "First, the payment of taxes, namely that each shall give the authroities such money and labor as is required of him [Rom. 13:6f].
    "Second, respect, that is, that we have sincere respect for government. ...
    "The third duty we owe government is honor.  For how can we imagine that we have paid the government something when we have given it tax or tithe or served it with physical labor?  God requires of us a much higher service toward the government, namely, honor...."

LW 40, p. 281-2

I would and have denied that anyone would dispute with your Luther quote which started this thread based upon the importance of government to preserve peace and punish the guilty.

If you could give a single example of a credible politician who would argue against the government preserving the peace and punishing the guilty, then perhaps I could see the value of this thread.

Now, regarding your expanded view, I see that you are backing away from a position that at least implicitly claimed that some were against preserving peace and punishing wrongdoers, and this is good.  No one would argue against your original quotation.

And, of course, I am sure that during the Bush administration you were duly aware of your duties in praising that government as well.

Or, just perhaps, the reason for this thread was rather a partisan view of government thinly masked as an ode to Luther's view of the value of government?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 02:31:51 AM »
The debate seems to be where should such protection come from. At one extreme would be the federal government providing the funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked. At the other extreme would be each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property. In the middle are the state and local governments providing protection and punishment.

This is one of the least insightful things I've read in quite a while (and explains why I have been skipping any of Brian's postings for over two years now), to put it kindly.

Alright, to be blunt, the idea that any credible politician would advocate that we just should arm ourselves and enforce our own laws sans governmental funds and forces to restrain and punish the wicked (i.e., "each head of the family being armed and equipped to protect his own family and property") as we will is stupid.  No one claims this.


Did you miss "at the other extreme"? It's an extremist position -- and there are such people with such extreme views. Seldom are they elected to government positions. I purposely used extreme examples, which on the bell-shaped curve are usually considered the positions or actions of "sick" people. Healthy ones are some where in the middle of the graph; which in my examples would put local government against broader government, e.g., city vs. state; state vs. federal.
And to my purpose:  when persons advocate suspicion of the authorities or government or fear of the government (particularly to the point of arming themselves against it, but perhaps even before that point) or even contempt or disdain for the government. are we not obligated to call that sin?


Not if the government has become the beast of Revelation 13. Then we are to call the actions of the government sin, or even demon-possessed; and we are to call those who worship the beast "sinners".


I do not think that our government is the beast of Revelation 13. For us in America, Romans 13 and the fourth commandment can be used to support Christians being good citizens and supporting our government.


I do not agree that such allegiance to the government as Romans 13 espouses is always the Christian response to all governments. Sometimes governments sin and sometimes patriotism is idolatry.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Jim_Krauser

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Re: A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2012, 02:34:07 AM »
"...that we obey the government.  In Romans 13 Paul enumerates three points concerning government. 
    "First, the payment of taxes, namely that each shall give the authroities such money and labor as is required of him [Rom. 13:6f].
    "Second, respect, that is, that we have sincere respect for government. ...
    "The third duty we owe government is honor.  For how can we imagine that we have paid the government something when we have given it tax or tithe or served it with physical labor?  God requires of us a much higher service toward the government, namely, honor...."

LW 40, p. 281-2


A problem with Luther's approach is that Romans 13 needs to be balanced with Revelation 13 where a quite different picture of government is presented.
I think that balance is maintained.   There may bad government and bad governors.  We may face suffering under them, and should cry out to God for deliverance and pray for the strength to endure in the time of trial.  In our context, under oppressive rulers (or even those we deem ineffectual or misguided) we may also work within the law to remove them from power.
Does Revelation teach that government is evil, or that evil forces may use government to evil purposes?
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY