Thursday, February 3, 2011

A little Brecht and "To the Princes"

Regarding Muentzer and the Allstedters, p. 152.  Advice to the princes regarding rising heretical and violent groups.

"He gave specific advice to the princes:  the preaching of the Allstedters should not be suppressed.  Sects are manifestation that accompanies the Word of God.  "Let the spirits collide and fight it out."  The truth will triumph.  That some will be led astray is something that must be expected.  The government should not take action.  Here the crucial limits of Lutehr's political theology were not violated.  Thus, To the Princes is an enduring statement that one must suffer divergent religious views.  Wherever they lead to violent acts, however, the princes must step in and expel from the country those holding such views.  The battle can never be anything but a spiritual one.  That was how Luther once again justified his own reformatory action.  Hearts must be won, and then churches and monasteries will fall by themselves, but the goal will never be attained by external force.  Luther would not accept the Old Testament examples of destroying idols, for that would ultimately lead to killing the godless.  On this point Luther had astutely sensed the consequences of Muentzer's theology of judgment.  Offenses could be overcome only by God's Word, and any use of force beyond this that induced the people to revolt had to be prevented by the princes.  Christians who possessed the Holy Spirit did not use their fists, but were prepared to suffer." 

So in spiritual matters there must be freedom.  The Word will do all the work.  No one shall be coerced or suppressed.  On the political front, however, those who foment unrest or incite revolt or commit violence, must be dealt with. Apparently the solution for getting rid of this unrest is "expulsion".  

This expulsion business is something to wonder about.  In Europe whole peoples were moved around, deported, brought back, etc. on mass, not only Jews.  My husband's grandparents were once deported from Poland to the far end of the Ukraine and then back again.  My father, of course, was a displaced person. 

In any case this document  "To the Princes" would all still be in prelude to the Peasants' War.

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