4 Levels of Injustice: Knowing When to Suffer Patiently and When to Resist

The Lutherans have entered the fray. They are writing more and more about the doctrine of the lesser magistrates – a doctrine first formalized by Lutheran ministers in Magdeburg, Germany in 1550. Lutherans are like the trees in Lord of the Rings – they take awhile to get into the fray, but once they do – their writings pack a strong punch.

[Note: The term “Governor” refers to the higher magistrates of whatever stripe.]

From the article:

Some room for debate remains as to whether America’s founding fathers acted too early or too late (or whether they should have acted at all), but clearly they intended to act at the appropriate time.

Convening in Philadelphia in 1776, the Second Continental Congress agreed, in the Declaration of Independence, to the principle that “while evils are sufferable” the people should bear with their existing government patiently, but that “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pushing invariably … [to] Despotism” marks the proper justification for a regime change.

Another formulation was developed in the Germany city of Magdeburg in 1550. Like Jefferson, the magistrates of Magdeburg distinguished between patient forbearance in the face of occasional injustice and political resistance in the face of outright tyranny. Unlike the Declaration of Independence, however, the Magdeburg Confession identified four levels of injustice, rather than just two. Finally, whereas the Declaration of Independence appealed to “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations,” the Magdeburg Confession included not only arguments from natural law and human history, but also arguments from Holy Scripture.

Anyone who cherishes liberty today would do well to look beyond the Declaration of Independence to the Magdeburg Confession. That confession provides a more complete and a more solidly grounded defense of political resistance than the declaration. The Magdeburg Confession also specifies a more… [click here to read the whole article].