For Luther, it’s in the discussion of God’s

preserving and sustaining work that government enters the picture. First, he said God uses creation itself to support and sustain us through natural processes such as sunlight, air and water, animals and crops. Then he made a somewhat surprising move—he said “good government” is one of the gifts God uses to support our creaturely existence. Why did he make this claim? Luther recognized

that we can’t use and enjoy the good gifts that God has given us without the peace and stability that government is intended to provide. For this reason, he also included government in his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer petition “Give us this day our daily bread.” Luther wrote that we should pray “for the civil

authorities and the government, for it is chiefly through them that God provides us daily bread and all the comforts of this life. Although we have received from God all good things in abundance, we cannot retain any of them or enjoy them in security and happiness were God not to give us a stable, peaceful government. For where dissension, strife, and war prevail, there daily bread is already taken away or at least reduced.” When we look at refugees fleeing war-torn

countries or at communities where order has broken down, we get a sense of Luther’s concern. His view of government provided an important

contribution in his day. In late medieval society, local and regional rulers often thought more about the entitlements of their office than about their responsibilities to those who lived in their territory. Another reform movement that arose during

Luther’s lifetime, the Anabaptists, believed that government and civic affairs were so compromised that it was better for Christians to withdraw from civil society and establish alternative communities rather than participate in government. Against this view, the Augsburg Confession

(the primary statement of faith of the Lutheran reformers) stated clearly: “It is taught among us that all government in the world and all established rule and laws were instituted and ordained by God for the sake of good order, and that Christians may without sin occupy civil offices.”


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