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History 6 Pages

Luther And Calvin On The Limits Of Secular Authority

Question

Luther and Calvin on the limits of secular authority

 “If he then takes away your goods and punishes you for your disobedience, then blessed are you, and you should thank God for counting you worthy to suffer for the sake of his Word.”

(Luther, On Secular Authority, p.29)

“Christians must be people born to suffer contumely and injustices, and to be exposed to wickedness, deceit and ridicule from the dregs of mankind. And not only this, but they must bear all such evils patiently, that is, with such composure that when they suffer one affliction, they should prepare themselves for more to come, expecting nothing through their lives except a perpetual carrying of their cross.”

(Calvin, On Civil Government, p. 72)

Both Luther and Calvin are adamant that the duty of a Christian subject is to submit to earthly authority. What theological grounds do they use to ground this claim?  Both Luther and Calvin differ, however, with regards to the question of how far this obedience to secular authority must extend. How do the two thinkers differ on this question? Why does Calvin’s response centre upon the inferior magistrates? 

Basic readings:

Martin Luther, ‘On Secular Authority’, and John Calvin, ‘On Civil Government’, in Luther and Calvin on Secular Authority ed. Harro Hopfl (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) (in the unit reader)

‘Introduction’ in Luther and Calvin on Secular Authority ed. Harro Hopfl (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) (in the unit reader)

John Headley, ‘Luther and the Problem of Secularization’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring, 1987), pp. 21-37

Quentin Skinner, Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol 2: The Reformations (Cambridge UP, 1978), Part I, ‘The Principles of Lutheranism’

Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform (New Haven: Yale UP, 1981), ch 5

The essay will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Addressing the question asked
  • Clear and coherent introduction
  • Evidence of critical thought
  • Understanding the arguments of relevant sources
  • Sentence structure and paragraphing
  • English expression and grammar
  • Overall structure and organisation
  • Quality and validity of conclusions

Literacy Minimum Standards Level 2/3

At this level, your written expression should be clear, concise and direct, free of major structural and presentational faults and, most importantly, not require any ‘deciphering’ on the part of the reader such. In other words, it can be read and understood on a first read through.

 Specific requirements include:

Formal writing requirements-

  • Complete sentences, typically with Subject Verb Object order.
  •  Avoidance of minor sentences, sentence fragments and run-ons.
  • Conciseness, coherence and cohesion.
  • Grammatical agreement and consistency including the correct use of tense, syntax, word class and lexical choices.
  • Correct and consistent spelling and punctuation.
  • Correct and consistent use of terminology relating to the unit that the student is writing for.
  • Correct use of phrases, clauses and conjunctions.
  • Consistency in the register appropriate for the unit that the student is writing for.
  • Correct use of cohesive devices linking sentences and paragraphs: including topic sentences and thesis statements.
  • Use of formal structure: including introduction and conclusion.
  • Integrated use of quoted and paraphrased material: including meta-commentary and linking phrases.

Academic conventions

Integrated use of source material (quotes, paraphrases etc.)

Accurate and consistent use of a recognised referencing system

Where required, your work has been submitted through Turnitin. In this unit, the major essay due 22 April, must be submitted both through Turnitin and in hard copy by the due date and time.

Formatting and presentation

  • Well formatted
  • No handwriting
  • 12 point Times Roman or equivalent (as approved or direct by unit learning guide)
  • Double-spaced
  • Page numbers and SID in footer or header
  • Stapled (if hard copy submission)
  • Good print quality in black ink (if hard copy submission)
  • Cover sheet attached (if hard copy submission)
  • Other elements
  • Accurate spelling
  • No txt abbreviations
Solution

Title: Luther And Calvin On The Limits Of Secular Authority
Length: 6 pages (2750 Words)
Style: Turabian

Preview

Introduction

Martin Luther and John Calvin were the humanists Reformers of the 16th century whose teachings sought to solicit cooperation of rulers in the role of church reformation. Both of these two reformers regarded the relationship between the secular authorities and the reformed Christian as having shortcomings and problems. However, despite their mutual respect, wide differences in their thinking existed especially on the question of how far this obedience to secular authority must extend. This paper tries to analyse the question of Luther and Calvin on the limits of secular authority based on their two works in Calvin’s memoir titled On Civil Government and Martin’s On Secular Authority. These two pieces are analysed to determine their suggested theological grounds in their efforts to strike a balance between secular authorities and Christianity.

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