Page Range



Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates, Magdeburg Confession, Doctrinal Development, Interposition, Political Theology, Matthew Trewhella, Junius Brutus, American War for Independence, Malcolm B. Yarnell, John Knox, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos


The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate plays a unique role in the development of political theology. While the principle is found in Scripture, the doctrine is developed across church history during catalytic moments in which civil or religious authorities are at odds with Christian convictions. While the principle made developmental strides in the early centuries of Christianity, it was codified in the Magdeburg Confession of 1550, leading to more rapid development throughout the Reformation, and eventually influencing the American War for Independence. This analyzes the development of the doctrine, identifying it as a natural maturation of biblical principles. The doctrine is one of Christianity's many contributions to the betterment of the world. The paper gives special attention to the doctrine’s influence on the founding of the United States and considers the present developments of the doctrine in the writings of Matthew Trewhella and other contemporary theologians. As Christians face increased persecution, even in developed countries, the necessity for a faithful political theory of interposition has become increasingly important.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.