Obedience and Resistance

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In 1948, Johannes Koch-Mehrin (name added in 1946) published a virtually unrevised version of lecture he had given to the Brotherhood of Pastors of the Synod of Braunfels ob der Lahn in 1938 under the title “The Christian’s Perception of the State according to Rom. 13 and Apoc. 13”.

It is not the state’s business to organize life however, but rather to allow it space in a Christian form, declared Koch in the situation of 1938. Wherever the power of government fails to recognize this duty and oversteps its bounds, the duty of Christian obedience can no longer be spoken of – without thus establishing the right of revolution; yes, the duty may be to disobey and to accept the consequences – to suffer.

After 1945 as well, Koch-Mehrin was convinced that, according to both Romans 13 and Revelation 13, violent resistance, involvement in revolutionary acts was not allowed; instead, perseverance in patience and faith was the sole legitimate Christian resistance against persecution by the authority of those in power.

In a literature report of 1952, Koch-Mehrin also stressed Christians’ resistance by the Word with the consequence of suffering. At the end of his article, in keeping with more recent studies of political ethics, he concluded however that a lawbreaker destroying many lives can be removed by force in an extreme case. Not members of Jesus Christ’s church but people who God has taken into the service of his governance as tools regardless of their belief or unbelief put up such violent resistance.

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  • © Quoted from Johannes Koch-Mehrin: Gehorsam und Widerstand gegen die Staatsgewalt im Spiegel der Konfessionen. In: Evangelische Ethik 12, 1952/1953, p. 320–340, 336f.