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Analysis of “How Luther & Protestant Reformation had Political Repercussions on America” by Bill Federer

Click here to go to homepage with links to all analyses of “An American Minute by Bill Federer” Challenged

To gain a comprehensive understanding of this spiritual warfare between Federer (and other Protestants) and historic Baptists, I especially recommend: The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.

Analysis of “How Luther & Protestant Reformation had Political Repercussions on America” by Bill Federer

Jerald Finney
October 31, 2022

Most notably, the title, “How Luther & Protestant Reformation had Political Repercussions on America,” is misleading. The article does not reveal what the title alleges it will reveal which is “How Luther & Protestant Reformation had Political Repercussions on America.” I believe that Federer’s article is a hodgepodge of facts constituting no logical analysis from which one can make conclusions as to the matter asserted in the title. Read it to see if you will agree. Click here to go to Federer’s article. Endnote [i] (click to go to the Endnote) is a summary of Federer’s article.

To do justice to all Federer’s misleading and false information related to Scripture and pre-colnial and post colonial American history, especially as related to the relationship of church and state, would require a book. See, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus. Therefore, only the most important relevant issues raised are covered here. We are men, so let us behave like men, as Jesus, the apostles, and Christian dissenters since have done. Let us confront falsehood with truth head on.

One of Federer’s comments that Patricia Bonomi wrote that the colonists were about 98% Protestant, 2% Catholic, and 1/105% Jewish (of course this is a total misrepresentation since a significant percent were the Baptists—who led the fight for religious freedom and soul liberty in America. Baptists never have been Protestant. As unrevised history proves  religious freedom and soul liberty in America and the First Amendment were the trophies of the persecuted Baptists during the colonial period). See the authorities cited and relied on in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus (Especially in Section II)),

Contents

  1. On Deuteronomy 28 as commented on by Federer in his article
  2. Facts (not mentioned by Federer) about Martin Luther relevant to religious freedom and soul liberty (the First Amendment) in America
  3. Endnote: Summary of Federer’s article

1. On Deuteronomy 28 as commented on by Federer in his article

Federer misquotes and misapplies Deuteronomy 28.” He writes:

“Deuteronomy 28 lists blessings and cursings. If a nation ‘shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God … all these blessings shall come on thee. ‘But if a nation does not hearken to the voice of the Lord, ‘all these curses shall come upon thee,” including: “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low … and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed.’ {Emphasis added]

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 says: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” [Federer left out the part of the verse in bold red and substituted “a nation” for “thou.”]

Notice that Federer starts his quote with a misinterpretation of Scripture. He replaces “thou” with “a nation.” When one understands Federer’s theology, one then understands why he made this replacement in or change of Scripture. In context the “thou” is Israel. God is speaking to Israel, to whom he gave the law. God never gave the law to Gentile nations, only to Israel. Gentile nations, all nations except Israel, were to proceed under the Adamic and Noahic Covenants.

  • Romans 2:14-15: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

Federer then proceeds to insert “a nation” instead of “Israel” as he mentions the curses in Deuteronomy 28:63-68. He asks, “How did God judge ancient Israel when it sinned?” Here, of course, he is limiting it to Israel, but the inference is that the admonitions in Deuteronomy 28 are to all nations, and specifically to the United States of America.

Of course, God is over all nations. He is over Israel and he is over Gentile nations. However, for Gentile nations, the primary consideration is how they deal with Israel. The Old Testament deals with Gentile nations—past, present, and future—and what He looks at to bless or curse them. I explain Bible teaching on both Israel and Gentile nations in Part I, Section I, The Biblical Doctrine of Government of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State, the Biblical Principles and the American Application.

I explain these matters in much more detail in my books, essays and other writings. Click here to go to Order Information, Free PDFs, and Free Online Versions Pages for Books by Jerald Finney. Click here to go to Written Lesson. for Basic Online Course by Jerald Finney.

  1. Facts (not mentioned by Federer) about Martin Luther relevant to religious freedom and soul liberty (the First Amendment) in America

Many of the early colonists were Protestants who thought Luther, Calvin, or the Church of England was correct about union of church and state. Dissenters, predominantly Baptists, believed in and fought for separation of church and state. Historic Baptists had never come out of Catholicism or Protestantism since they never joined with them. The First Amendment was primarily the result of a spiritual warfare between those holding opposing Scriptural interpretations, the established churches versus the dissenters, primarily the Baptists. The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, page 92.

The theological turmoil that resulted from the Reformation continued in the new world, and out of that storm emerged a separation of church and state that had never before existed of any lasting influence in any nation in the history of the world. The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, page 107.

The atrocities and heresies of the Catholic church eventually led to an effort to reform that church from within. Among the greatest of the reformers were Martin Luther, who started the Lutheran church (which became the state-church of Germany), and John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian church (which became the state-church of Scotland). The Reformed churches became Christian Revisionists working contemporaneously with their Catholic Revisionist predecessors.

During this period of reformation, there existed those who dissented from Catholic and Reformation theology. In early sixteenth century Germany, two currents flowed in opposite directions. One, fostered by the established church, was toward a state-church. The other, promoted by dissenters, was toward separation of church and state. When a Protestant church became an established church, it continued the persecution practiced by its harlot mother.

“Both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches brought out of their Catholic Mother many of her evils, among them her idea of a State Church. They both soon became Established Churches. Both were soon in the persecuting business, falling little if any, short of their Catholic Mother.” J. M.Carroll, The Trail of Blood, Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341, Copyright 1931 p. 33.

Martin Luther wrote:

  • “It is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world. Nay, over even one land or company of people since the wicked always outnumber the good. A man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the Gospel would be like a shepherd who would place in one fold wolves, lions, eagles, and sheep together and let them freely mingle with one another and say, ‘Help yourselves, and be good and peaceful among yourselves. The fold is open, there is plenty of food, have no fear of dogs and clubs.’ The sheep forsooth would keep the peace and would allow themselves to be fed and governed in peace; but they would not live long nor would any beast keep from molesting another. For this reason, these two kingdoms must be sharply distinguished and both be permitted to remain. The one to produce piety, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds. Neither is sufficient to the world without the other.” Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 22, citing Works of Martin Luther, Volume 4 (Philadelphia: A. H. Holman Co., 1931), p. 265.)

“When Luther was expecting excommunication and assassination, he pleaded that:

  • “Princes are not to be obeyed when they command submission to superstitious error, but their aid is not to be invoked in support of the word of God.
  • “Heretics, he said, must be converted by the Scriptures, and not by fire. With passion, he asserted: “I say, then neither pope, nor bishop, nor any man whatever has the right of making one syllable binding on a Christian man, unless it be done with his own consent. Whatever is done otherwise is done in the spirit of tyranny…. I cry aloud on behalf of liberty and conscience, and I proclaim with confidence that no kind of law can with any justice be imposed on Christians, except so far as they themselves will; for we are free from all.” Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom. (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 21, citing Acton, “The Protestant Theory of Persecution,” in Essays on Freedom and Power, p. 92, and Wace, Henry, and Bucheim, C. A., Luther’s Primary Works, Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1885, pp. 194-195, quoted in Noss, John B., Man’s Religions, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 92.

Nonetheless, Luther later, when he had made an effective alliance with the secular power, advocated that the magistrate, who does not make the law of God, enforce the law of God. According to Luther:

  • “The law is of God and from God. The State is the law-enforcing agency, administering a law of God that exists unchangeably from all eternity….
  • “The need for a state arises from the fact that all men do not hear the word of God in a spirit of obedience. The magistrate does not make the law, which is of God, but enforces it. His realm is temporal, and the proper ordering of it is his responsibility. Included in the proper ordering the maintenance of churches where the word of God is truly preached and the truly Christian life is taught by precept and example. In his realm, subject to the law of God, the Prince is supreme, nor has man the right to rebel against him. But if the Prince contravenes the law of God, man may be passively disobedient, in obedience to a higher and the only finally valid law.” William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 13-14.
  • “Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their hands in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.” Pfeffer, p. 21, quoting Acton, pp. 102-103; see also Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid, pp. 158-160, 163-168, 186-198; Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Erdsmans Pub. Co., 1964) and Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1977 Reprint).

Luther espoused that coercion by the state to achieve religious unity was justifiable. This was an expansion of Erastian philosophy—“the assumption of state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy.” Erastianism … pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation. Pfeffer, pp. 23-24. Erastianism achieved its greatest triumph in England. See Ibid., pp. 24-25 for a concise history of Erastianism in England.

Luther’s position resulted in persecution of dissenters such as Anabaptists who believed in believer’s baptism. Opposition to a state-church follows logically from the thinking behind believer’s baptism.

“Believer’s baptism [was] the key to religious thought of the Anabaptists. Infant baptism implies that a child may be admitted into the Church without his understanding or personal consent. Such a church must be a formal organization, with sponsored membership possible for those whose years permit neither faith nor understanding. Adult baptism implies a different concept of the Church. The anabaptized are the elect of a visible church which is essentially a religious community of the elect. But obviously such a church could in no sense be a State Church. The Prince could neither bring it into being, regulate it, nor enforce membership in it; indeed, any connection between the State and such a church could only be injurious to the Church. Adult baptism on the surface is remote from the concept of a separated Church and State, yet such separation is implicit in the rationale of Anabaptism. The call to such a church can never come from the palace of the Prince; it must come from the Kingdom of Heaven….” [Emphasis mine.] Marnell, pp. 18-20.

The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, page 24-27.

“Thus, before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches—churches backed up by civil governments—the Roman and Greek Catholics [the Greek Catholics separated from the Roman Catholics in the ninth century] counted as two, then the Church of England; then the Lutheran, or Church of Germany, then the Church of Scotland now known as the Presbyterian. All of them were bitter in their hatred and persecution of the people called Ana-Baptists, Waldenses and all other not established churches, churches which never in any way had been connected with the Catholics…. Many more thousands, including both women and children were constantly perishing every day in the yet unending persecutions. The great hope awakened and inspired by the reformation had proven to be a bloody delusion. Remnants now [found] an uncertain refuge in the friendly Alps and other hiding places over the world.” Carroll, p. 34 cited in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, page 29.

Many of the early colonists were Protestants who thought Luther, Calvin, or the Church of England was correct about union of church and state. Dissenters believed in and fought for separation of church and state. The First Amendment was primarily the result of a spiritual warfare between those holding opposing Scriptural interpretations, the established churches versus the dissenters, primarily the Baptists.

  • “Of the Baptists, at least, it may be truly said that they entered the conflict in the New World with a clear and consistent record on the subject of soul liberty. ‘Freedom of conscience’ had ever been one of their fundamental tenets. John Locke, in his ‘essay on Toleration,’ said, ‘The Baptists were the first and only propounders of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.’ And the great American historian, Bancroft, says: ‘Freedom of Conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first a trophy of the Baptists.’ Vol. II., pages 66, 67.
  • “The history of the other denominations shows that, in the Old World, at least, they were not in sympathy with the Baptist doctrine of soul liberty, but in favor of the union of Church and State, and using the civil power to compel conformity to the established church….
  • “… It was left to the sect once ‘everywhere spoken against’ to teach their Protestant brethren the lesson of soul liberty, and this they did in the school of adversity in the New World.” Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 14-15 cited in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, page 92.


Endnote

Endnote [i] Summary of Federer’s article:

  1. Luther’s 95 “theses” in 1517 which began the Reformation.
  2. His summon to trial in 1521 before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
  3. Charles V’s dismissal of Luther’s theses as “an argument between monks.”
  4. The order to recant and Luther’s refusal to do so.
  5. Luther’s being kidnapped and hid by Frederick III.
  6. the Catholic and Orthodox church split in 1054; the Papal Schism in 1378-1417;
  7. the burning and burial of John Wycliffe for “attempting a translation of the Scriptures;”
  8. the general prologue of Wycliffe’s 1384 translation of the Bible; Jan Hus (1369-1415) shared Scriptures translated into the Czech language, his burning at the stake for being a heretic;
  9. Luther, unlike Wycliffe and Huss lived after the invention of the printing press;
  10. Johannes Gutenberg (100-1468) invented the western world’s first moveable-type printing press and the first significant book printed, the Bible;
  11. comments by Pope Pius II and Victor Hugo about Gutenberg and his invention; and Martin Luther’s account of how he came to an interpretation of the meaning of the expression “the justice of God” and its relationship with the statement “The just shall live by faith” and how he was “reborn,” etc.;
  12. the German Peasants’ War in 1524;
  13. the 1527 sacking of Rome and imprisonment of Pope Clement VII the same Pope who refused to annul the marriage of Henry VIII and Charles V’s aunt Catherine of Aragon leading Henry to break away from Rome and start the church of England. He failed to mention that Henry set himself up as head of the Church of England
  14. Charles V oversaw the Spanish colonization of the Americas and began the Counter-Reformation, and a few other facts;
  15. Spain used gold from the New World to push back the Muslim Ottoman invasion of Europe, a few facts related thereto, and a misquote and misapplication of Deuteronomy 28 (See below for more on this);
  16. some of Martin Luther’s references of Deuteronomy 28 as applied to the Turk being the “rod of wrath of the Lord our God,” the Turk’s god being the devil, how the fight against the Turks must begin with repentance and reformation of their lives, how (the church should) drive men to repentance and how, etc.
  17. Charles V’s attempt to unite the Holy Roman Empire against the Muslims and his agreeing to a truce recognizing the Protestants, the truce between the Protestant and Catholic territories in Nuremberg in 1532;
  18. that “the Lutheran movement was, for the first time, officially tolerated and could enjoy a place in the political sun of the Holy Roman Empire;
  19. a comment of John Calvin on the Islamic threat;
  20. a list of notable Protestant reformers;
  21. that some Protestant reformers refused to help against the Muslim invasion;
  22. a treaty by Charles V which ceased the religious struggle between Catholics and Protestants and which allowed each king to decide what was to be believed in his kingdom;
  23. the rest of the secluded life of Charles V;
  24. that Luther “penned an indefensible anti-semetic work that contributed to future Jewish persecutions;
  25. that in the two centuries following Luther, many migrated to other countries for conscience sake, many to America;
  26. that Luther influenced John Wesley and George Whitefield who preached the Great Awakening in Colonial America and a statement of Wesley on how a reading from the Epistle to the Romans led him to trust Christ alone for salvation (see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus for the story of the Great Awakening preached by Whitefield and its influence on the road to separation of church and state in America);
  27. that Patricia Bonomi wrote that the colonists were about 98% Protestant, 2% Catholic, and 1/105 Jewish (of course this is a total misrepresentation since a significant percent were the Baptists—who led the fight for religious freedom and soul liberty in America. Baptists not and never have been “Protestant. See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus);
  28. that the signers of the Declaration were predominantly Protestant (another representation meant to mislead—see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus);
  29. a misleading statement by Edmund Burke in an address to Parliament (a statement that shows that Burke had no understanding of the facts about the spiritual warfare in the Northern Colonies. See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus);
  30. a statement of Samuel Adams, “This day, I trust the reign of political Protestantism will commence.” Of course if Protestantism had prevailed, there would have been no separation of church and state, religious freedom, and First Amendment in America. See, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus);
  31. statements of John Adams and Robert D. Woodberry of the National University of Singapore. Woodberry said that nations where “Protestant missions” became more prosperous, etc.;
  32. a statement of Luther concerning that schools should explain the holy Scriptures, that “every institution where men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt;
  33. and finally, the article ends with: “Luther, who died in 1546, wrote: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.”