2.4.10 The Tenth Article of Faith

I believe that I am obliged to obey the worldly authorities provided no godly laws are thereby transgressed.

The Tenth Article of Faith is fundamentally distinct from the preceding nine: whereas they focus on God's creatorship, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the church, its ministries and sacraments, as well as the hope for the future, the Tenth Article of faith deals with the Christian's relationship to the state.

The Tenth Article of Faith makes it clear that Christian life does not transpire outside the framework of civic and societal reality. It demonstrates that the Christian faith has a generally positive relationship to the state, that is the "worldly authorities". This positive relationship is summarised by the term "obedience".

The relationship between the Christian church and the political authorities was already contemplated in New Testament times (1 Peter 2: 11-17). The statements made in Romans 13: 1-7, which describe the state as "God's minister", are quite well known. This passage has created many misunderstandings, since it appears to convey that believers are to show unconditional obedience, even to an unjust state. However, this interpretation fails to take into account that the state is to serve God, in other words that the divine will–as clearly expressed in the Ten Commandments, for example–is also to be the standard for the laws of the state.

Romans 13: 1-7 is also the background of the Tenth Article of Faith. It not only requires "obedience"–that is loyalty to the state–but also refers to the standard by which such obedience is justified: "provided no godly laws are thereby transgressed". Not even the state is completely free, as it too is subject to the stipulation of divine order. At the very least, its laws should not contradict the divine order, but better yet, be in harmony with it. If the divine will and the laws of the state do not oppose one another, but rather even complement one another to a certain degree, Christians are obliged to accept the law as something positive and binding. However, if they stand in opposition to one another, the following applies for the individual: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5: 29).

SUMMARY

It is the task of the apostolate to interpret Holy Scripture and the early church confessions in a manner authoritative for faith. An important result of this is the New Apostolic Creed. (2.4)

The First Article of Faith deals with the creatorship of God, the Father. (2.4.1)

The Second Article of Faith speaks of Jesus Christ, the foundation and content of Christian faith. (2.4.2)

The Third Article of Faith professes belief in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, belief in the church, and other elements of salvation. (2.4.3)

The Fourth Article of Faith states that Jesus Christ rules His church and that the expression of this rule is the sending of the Apostles. (2.4.4)

The Fifth Article of Faith expresses that it is God who designates an individual to receive a spiritual ministry, and that ministers receive authority, blessing, and sanctification through the Apostle ministry. (2.4.5)

The Sixth Article of Faith applies to Holy Baptism with water. (2.4.6)

The Seventh Article of Faith deals with Holy Communion. (2.4.7)

The Eighth Article of Faith has to do with Holy Sealing. (2.4.8)

The Ninth Article of Faith speaks of the return of Christ and the events that will follow. (2.4.9)

The Tenth Article of Faith deals with the relationship of the Christian to the state. (2.4.10)

See also