Nationalism and the Lutheran Confessions

[See also Examining the LCMS Condemnation of ‘Racism’]

The Book of Concord (1580) contains the documents that make up the confessional standard of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. These documents include the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord. These are the written works that defined the Lutheran branch of the Church in opposition to Papists, Calvinists and Ababaptists.

Of course in the 16th century there was no theological controversy surrounding “racism,” a humanistic concept that would not be invented for several hundred years. However, even though racism and nationalism were not at the center of debate, there are several statements in the Book of Concord that are consistent with Christian nationalism. These statements show that the Lutheran reformers were at least implicit nationalists and shared many assumptions with those who are labelled “radical right” today.

The Cursed Murderers of God

Martin Luther himself unambiguously identified the Jews as the enemies of God and the Church. Contemporary Lutherans who seek to distance themselves from Luther’s brilliant and courageous critique of Judaism will stress that Luther’s anti-Jewish writings were never endorsed by the entire church or given the status of confessional documents. This is true, but it does not follow that the Book of Concord is therefore philosemitic. While in his anti-Jewish writings Luther goes into great detail on a number of important points, his entire critique is built on a handful of foundational ideas: that the Jews murdered Jesus, that the Jews are still under God’s curse because of their crime, and that rabbinic Judaism is an utterly false religion on the same level as paganism and Islam. These foundational ideas are all found in the Book of Concord. It is true that the Book of Concord mostly mentions these ideas only in passing, but that is only because these ideas were uncontroversial and universally accepted at the time.

In Article VII of the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, it says that the Jews “in very deed violated the body of Christ and killed Him.” Of course the Lutheran reformers are not saying anything new here. The Bible (1 Thessalonians 2:14,15) and the ancient fathers of the Church are quite clear that it is the Jews who killed Jesus.

In Article XI of the same document it says, “they are well-deserved penalties of sins when God so punishes a land or nation for despising His Word that the punishment extends also to their posterity, as is to be seen in the Jews.”

And in Part Two Article III of the Large Catechism, when speaking of the Apostles Creed it says, “These articles of the Creed, therefore, divide and separate us Christians from all other people upon earth. For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation.”

Everything that Luther and other Christians prior to the age of political correctness wrote concerning the Jews is built on these key ideas that are expressed in the Book of Concord. The Jews are a cursed race guilty of the blood of Christ. They are absolutely the last people on Earth who should be considered natural allies of the Church. The term “Judeo-Christian” is as absurd as “Satano-Christian,” or “Islamo-Christian.” Clearly comprehending this fact is absolutely essential if we are to have any hope of enjoying a form of nationalism worthy of the name Christian.

Against the Turk

Europe at the present day is being overrun by hostile Muslim “migrants.” Globalists and secularists, blinded by a religious devotion to an egalitarian creed, welcome these invaders, and the mainstream media denounce as “racist” any native European who dares to complain about the shocking crimes committed by the barbaric newcomers. It is of course not surprising that the bulk of apostate whites would side with the Muslims in the destruction of Christian civilization. But it is most tragic and shocking that many who claim to be Christians also welcome the conquering Mohammedan horde. Even ostensibly conservative Christians in America, including many Lutherans, are aiding the invasion under the guise of helping “refugees” and “fighting islamophobia.”

The Book of Concord unambiguously stands against Islam and views “the Turk” as one of the greatest threats to Europe and the Church. If modern Lutheran pastors were to use the language of the Book of Concord when describing Islam, their congregations would quickly turn against the Muslim invasion.

In the very first sentence of the Preface to the Augsburg Confession it states that the Holy Roman Emperor and other Christians princes had met “to deliberate concerning measures against the Turk, that most atrocious, hereditary, and ancient enemy of the Christian name and religion, in what way, namely, effectually to withstand his furor and assaults by strong and lasting military provision.” Very little has changed since that day, as the leader of the Turks still frequently threatens Europe. Most contemporary leaders of the Church, however, would be terrified to publicly declare Muslims to be “the hereditary enemy of the Christian religion.”

In Article XXI of the Augsburg Confession, in says that the Lutheran theologians “teach that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from his country.”

In Part Three of the Large Catechism, in the explanation of the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“give us this day our daily bread”), it discusses various temporal blessings that we are to ask from God. The Catechism teaches that we should pray to God “that He give to emperors, kings, and all estates, and especially to the rulers of our country and to all counselors, magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may govern well and vanquish the Turks and all enemies.”

The Book of Concord contains no hint that we should seek to “dialogue” with Muslims or welcome them into our communities. They are consistently portrayed as being a great threat to the Church that must be resisted with all of our strength.

Faith and Nationhood

Someone might object that the statements produced from the Book of Concord against the Jews are merely theological, not political, and that the statements against the Turk merely refer to defensive measures against a full scale military invasion, not peaceful immigration. However, another aspect of the Book of Concord largely ignored by contemporary Lutherans is the clear teaching that faith and nationhood are vitally linked together. The Lutheran reformers assumed that the state must embrace a particular faith and exclude all incompatible creeds from political life. This clearly entails the favoring of Evangelical Christianity and the suppression of Judaism and Islam.

The Preface to the Book of Concord states that “we have resolved to tolerate in our realms, churches, and schools no other doctrine than that which, in the year 1530, was approved at Augsburg in a solemn confession.”

Luther endorses the same idea in the Preface to the Small Catechism, where he says,

“those who are unwilling to learn [the Christian faith] should be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians, neither should they be admitted to the Sacrament, accepted as sponsors at baptism, nor exercise any part of Christian liberty, but should simply be turned back to the Pope and his officials, yea, to the devil himself. Moreover, their parents and employers should refuse them food and drink, and [they would also do well if they were to] notify them that the prince will drive such rude people from the country, etc. For although we cannot and should not force any one to believe, yet we should insist and urge the people that they know what is right and wrong with those among whom they dwell and wish to make their living. For whoever desires to reside in a town must know and observe the town laws, the protection of which he wishes to enjoy, no matter whether he is a believer or at heart and in private a rogue or knave.”

When responding to Luther’s anti-Jewish writings, conservative Lutherans today are forced to admit that Luther’s general theological point about Judaism being contrary to the Gospel is correct, but they object to Luther’s practical advice to drive the Jews from the county and shut down their synagogues and schools. But such practical measures necessarily follow from what is written in the Book of Concord. In the above passage from the Small Catechism, Luther clearly approves of princes marginalizing and driving from the country those who reject the Evangelical faith. Evidently this refers even to Papists, so it certainly would also include Jews and Muslims. (Interestingly the LCMS and other conservative Lutheran groups are eager to apologize for Luther’s call the drive out the Jews, but they seem less concerned about apologizing to Roman Catholics for identical statements. This should teach us something about who dominates our society.) And if such people ought to be driven out, much more ought we to prevent their immigration into our lands.

The theologians who wrote and adopted the Book of Concord obviously believed that Evangelical Christianity should be the established religion of the community, and that Papists, Jews and Muslims should be prevented from holding positions of influence, or should even be totally removed from the nation. Or, as the Preface to the Book of Concord puts it, from Germany, “our most beloved fatherland.”

In closing, I would emphasize that there is much in the Book of Concord consistent with and implicitly in favor of Christian nationalism. It contains nothing in favor of the “anti-racist” attitude officially adopted by the Lutheran churches today. A Lutheran church that truly shared the faith of the 16th century reformers would preach from its pulpits that the immigration of Muslims, the hereditary enemy of the Church, must be stopped, and that we must free our government and schools from the control of the cursed, Christ-killing Jews. By God’s grace may we see such a Lutheran church in our day!

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