This is the 500th anniversary of the publication of Luther’s treatise, Secular Authority [aka Temporal Authority]: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed, which is a landmark in the history of freedom. By showing that there is an “extent” to earthly authority, it put limits on the scope of the state. And by showing that beliefs cannot and so should not be coerced by force, it carved out a space for intellectual and religious liberty.
In honor of that anniversary, we have been posting and discussing excerpts from that work. Here Luther answers the question of whether the temporal authorities should punish heresies: