Peace, Order and the Glory of God

Secular Authority and the Church in the Thought of Luther and Melanchthon, 1518-1559


This volume is the first attempt to bring together in a comparative study all the evidence concerning the development of the ideas of Luther and Melanchthon on the cura religionis of secular magistrates. Besides yielding a more complete historical narrative than has hitherto been available, this approach has made it possible to show (among other things) that Luther's ideas on the subject developed and changed over time in tandem with developments and changes in Melanchthon's ideas and in response to the same historical pressures. Where past studies have tended to emphasize the differences in their thinking, this one demonstrates their essential agreement and considers their common worries about the dangers inherent in magisterial responsibility for the church.

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James M. Estes, Ph.D. (1964) in History, The Ohio State University, is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Toronto and Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria College (University of Toronto). Most of his publications, including several on the German reformer Johannes Brenz, deal with the subject of secular authority and the Reformation.
'The strengths of this book – and they are considerable – lie in its comprehensiveness, in the author’s patient reading of texts and painstaking effort at systematic comparison.'
W. David Myers, Renaissance Quarterly.

'Although a great deal has been written about the attitudes of Luther and Melanchthon to secular authority this is the first full-length study in which they are carefully compared. One of the most striking features to emerge from such a comparison is that, however different their point of departure, they invariably agreed about the duties of the princes and magistrates in any particular situation. (…)
Students of Luther and Melanchthon will be indebted to Estes for this clear and thorough srudy in which the background of the works on secular authority by the two Reformers, and the works themselves, are examined and summarised in detail.
Alastair Hamilton, Church History and Religious Culture

James Estes, whose works on the political thought of theologians such as Johannes Brenz are known to many, has produced a fine study of the thought of Luther and Melanchthon on the role of secular magistrates in the establishment and maintenance of true religion. (…)
The chronological structure of
Peace, Order, and the Glory of God, while potentially difficult to set out in a way that is clear and easy to follow, works very well. It allows the reader to view the development of thought of the individual reformers together with the changing situations with which they were forced to deal. Estes does a good job of providing a sufficient amount of detail without getting bogged down in it. Thus, his presentation is clear and illuminating. (…)
That [the] conclusions are going to provoke discussion and disagreement seems certain. One need only consider the common suspicion toward Melanchthon found in some quarters to realize that. Yet Estes has produced a well-argued and compelling piece of research with which all taking up the topic will have to deal.

Jon Balserak, University ofBirmingham, Sixteenth Century Journal

1. Emergency Help From Christian Brothers: Luther on Secular Authority and the Church From 1518 Through 1528
2. Peace, Order, and Good Government: Melanchthon On Secular Authority and the Church From 1519 Through 1529
3. Anabaptists, Epicureans, and the Glory of God: the Emergence of Melanchthon’s Mature Position, 1530–1535
4. Irenic Catholics, Neutral Princes, and Godless Bishops: The Development of Melanchthon’s Thought from the De officio principum to the Final Edition of the Loci5. Faithful Servants of God’s Word: Luther on Secular Authority and the Church from 1530 Through 1545

Those interested in Luther and Melanchthon, the German Reformation, humanism and the Reformation, relations between church and state, church history, and early-modern political thought.
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