Reformation Theology: The Magdeburg Confession: 13th of April 1550 AD

"The Magdeburg Confession: 13th of April 1550 AD" by Pastors of Magdeburg, Matthew Trewhella, George Grant, Matthew Colvin

"The Magdeburg Confession was written and signed by actors in an amazing drama that called into question how righteous men ought to respond to those in power and authority when such men make unjust or immoral laws or decrees."

"We command them, by the word of Christ, to render unto God the things that are God’s, and to Caesar, though he be different in religion, the things that are Caesar’s. They render these duties of double obedience and conduct themselves without crime of their consciences on either side, and without rancor, when both sides keep themselves within the limits of their duty prescribed by God and by the laws."

"... pious magistrates are not only able, but even have an obligation to resist them as far as they are able, to defend the true doctrine, worship of God, life, modesty, and the property of their subjects, and preserve them against such great tyranny."
"The Magistrate is an ordinance of God for honor to good works, and a terror to evil works (Rom. 13). Therefore when he begins to be a terror to good works and honor to evil, there is no longer in him, because he does thus, the ordinance of God, but the ordinance of the devil. And he who resists such works, does not resist the ordinance of God, but the ordinance of the devil."

"... the things which are God’s are not to be rendered unto Caesar, just as the Apostles hand down this rule and precept, 'We must obey God rather than men.' And by refusing obedience to superiors in those things which are contrary to God, they do not violate the majesty of their superiors, nor can they be judged obstinate or rebellious, as Daniel says, 'I have committed no crime against you, O king.'"

"... sometimes He punishes the wicked themselves by means of the wicked; but ordinarily He does so through those who are called to exercise just punishment, according to what is said about homicides: “Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9)."

"This means of carrying out punishment and driving off unjust violence is divine and belongs to magistrates, whether to the superior against the inferior, or to an equal against an equal, or to an inferior against a superior. For God has shared this His own honor with all legitimate magistrates, not with only one rank or one person."

"... a pious magistrate’s arms ought to serve the kingdom of Christ in the same ministry by defending the whole Church against unjust persecution."

"The deeds of the Maccabees are nicely fitting in this connection. Since they were conquered and at that time under the Empire of king Antiochus, nonetheless since he desired to make a single common religion among all the nations, and was forcing the people of God to the worship of idols, they resisted him and defended both their own lives as well as the Law or worship of God, as it is expressly written there (1 Maccabees 2)."

"The Armenians, when they had become Christians, defended themselves by arms against the edicts of the Emperor Maximinus who was forcing them to exchange the Christian religion for the worship of idols. And the Emperor Constantine took up arms for the defense of Christians against Licinius his co-emperor (Eusebius, Church History, lib. 9)."

"God has instructed us in Proverbs 24, saying, “Rescue those who are being led to death and do not refrain from freeing those who are being dragged to destruction. If you say, ‘We did not have the strength to do so,” He who is the inspector of the heart, He knows. Nothing can deceive the Preserver of your soul, and He will render to a man according to his works."

"... hey were not innocent of the guilt of the murder that was committed, because they did not aid the innocent and defend them."

"... this doctrine is an exposition of the fifth commandment, which makes guilty of murder not only those who take away life unjustly, but also those who do not rescue, as much as they can, either their own or others’ lives from unjust violence."

"This cowardice of ours is a great crime. Gentile men, who knew nothing certain about God, or about the immortality of the soul and eternal life, often submitted to death far more bravely on account of political causes, than we Christians – ah, shame! – do for the true religion of Christ."