Martin Luther Was the Original Libertarian Because He Followed His Own Conscience
By Lee Enochs
As Christians around the world prepare for 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door on October 31, 1517, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate this epic event among my Liberty appreciating friends, by expressing why I believe Martin Luther was the original Libertarian.
Now, to my millennial readers out there, when I refer to Martin Luther, I am not eluding to a member of the band “Mumford and Sons” or the Civil Rights leader, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who famously won the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights activism and gave the “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington D.C. in August 1963.
The Martin Luther I am referring to is the late great German monk, theologian and founder of the Protestant Reformation; the cataclysmic spiritual and cultural movement that saw millions of Europeans make a break from medieval Roman Catholicism towards a grace and Bible driven expression of Christianity.
It was Martin Luther who revolutionized the world when he received a spiritual awakening in a castle prayer tower while reading the first chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans in a text that says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jews first and also to the Greeks, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
In other words, Martin Luther came to see that men and women can know God through faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and rose again form the dead if we sincerely believe in Christ and repent of our sins.
Right then and there, Martin Luther realized that men and women are declared righteous and accepted by God, not on the basis of church councils or external human authority, but by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone, based on the authority of the Bible alone for the glory of God alone.
When threatened with execution for expressing views that contradicted the medieval religious authorities of his day, Martin Luther, when commanded to recant his new found faith in Jesus Christ said,
“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
Martin Luther was the original Libertarian because he did not look to human governments and man-made religious institutions for answers, but decided to live his life where his own conscience led him.
We Libertarians are skeptical of government and external authorities that demand our allegiance and obedience without proper warrant.
Martin Luther was the original Libertarian because he decided to live his life by his own conscience, no matter what the price. May God raise up men and women like Martin Luther in these dangerous times. Amen.
“But these have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing, you might have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Lee Enochs is a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary.