As a reformer, Martin Luther certainly changed the world of the Church. Would you say that his opposition to the existing religious authority of his day could be justified from a scriptural standpoint? How might it not? Which biblical principles affect your own responsibility to promote justice and righteousness when such actions come into conflict with an established order?
The actions of Martin Luther in the 1500s have reached almost mythical stature among Christians. Luther's deeds had much more radical consequences than he could have foreseen as he first challenged the existing church. He sparked a revolution of thought, a break from the Roman Catholic Church system and a return to a faith based upon Scripture alone. Though Martin Luther's choices were for an essential cause and brought fantastic results, a question must be answered before Christians can truly call him a hero of the faith. The question is this: Was Luther's challenge of his earthly authorities justifiable by the scripture?
The answer is not instantly obvious, nor do the Scriptures seem immediately supportive of Luther. Hebrews 13:17 says to "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority." Romans 13 is even more damning to rebels: "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except which God has established... Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves."
But this raises another, deeper question: if authority is to be obeyed, what is to be done when leaders create evil standards? In other words, if earthly administrators go against the law of God, whom should we obey? All of a sudden, the question is not one of obedience after all. Instead, it is one of jurisdiction -- which authority takes precedence when one cannot obey both? A clear answer can be found in the book of Acts, when the apostles first begin preaching the Gospel...