I agree. To me, it goes back to the “give Caesar his due” argument in Scripture. I do think the Catholic Church overstepped its bounds for centuries - I am reading a book about the Papacy during the Holy Roman Empire up to the Middle Ages - :eek:. I tire of Catholics dancing around this sordid history like it didn’t happen; it makes us look ten times worse than just admitting it and saying that time is past. (For that matter, the Index wasn’t abolished until 1966.)
Luther is inconsistent often though - but in terms of the Peasants’ Rebellion I think he just writing in the context that the State should protect social order as was their right and duty as ordained by God: "Paul, too, speaking in Romans 12 [13:1] to all baptized Christians, says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”
I don’t remember the details of the Peasants’ Rebellion but my guess is the peasants probably had a decent case against the authorities as well. I know Luther’s support of the suppression is very controversial, even for Lutherans.
In the treatise Luther arraigned the peasants on three charges: (1) they had violated their oaths of loyalty to their rulers and were therefore subject to temporal punishment; (2) they had robbed, plundered, and murdered, and were subject to death in body and soul; and (3) they had committed their crimes under the cover of Christ’s name, thereby shamefully blaspheming God. The peasants were like a mad dog which had to be destroyed. The government, he argued, must use its God‑given office to subdue the rebels with force, the only language they understood. Who*ever lost his life in suppressing this rebellion, Luther argues, would be a martyr to the gospel.
As for the Pope’s role vs. the State today, obviously he has no authority to act against the State but I think he has a right to speak out in a spiritually authoritative capacity (the voice of God), such as in defense of violence against Christians in the Middle East or other injustices that affect the poor.