Christians and Social Responsibility

It is true, however, that Luther did not normally conceive of the Christian’s social responsibility as transforming the existing structures of society. While persons can be transformed by the gospel in the kingdom of God, institutions can only be reformed by the law in the kingdom of men. As long as men are not required to sin against God and conscience, they care to accept the social structures for what they are (the Creator’s dikes against sin), and try to act like responsible Christian citizens within these structures (as the Redeemers channels of serving love). When our secular occupations among men are faithfully acknowledged to be part of our religious vocation under God, then love provides law with its ethical content and law provides love with its social form.

William H. Lazareth | Preface, Luther’s Works, Vol. 44: The Christian in Society I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 44 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), xv.


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  1. Is this a Lutheran amillennial perspective on being in culture?
    How did William Lazarath view Romans 13?

    • Catherine,

      I don’t know Lazareth’s work but I thought that was an accurate summary of Luther’s thought. Yes, Luther and Calvin (and all the 16th-century magisterial Protestants) were amillennial.

  2. But, this seems strange, Dr. Clark, to identify 16th Century protestants – who engaged the culture by defining the correct reading of Scripture, debated and refuted Romanism, and wrote catechisms, creeds, confessions – as amillennialists. These protestants were willing to die and were martyred.

    As a Church historian do you recall which century the term ‘amillennial’ was identified?
    Who identified it?

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