Benjamin Franklin on Lutheran Pacifism

The Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz mentioned Benjamin Franklin's letter to Peter Collinson regarding the immigration of German Lutherans to Pennsylvania, with applications to modern Lutheranism.

The full letter is here. The relevant bit, highlights mine:

I am perfectly of your mind, that measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans: and am not without Apprehensions, that thro’ their indiscretion or Ours, or both, great disorders and inconveniences may one day arise among us; Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation, and as Ignorance is often attended with Credulity when Knavery would mislead it, and with Suspicion when Honesty would set it right; and as few of the English understand the German Language, and so cannot address them either from the Press or Pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain. Their own Clergy have very little influence over the people; who seem to take an uncommon pleasure in abusing and discharging the Minister on every trivial occasion. Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it; and as Kolben says of the young Hottentots, that they are not esteemed men till they have shewn their manhood by beating their mothers, so these seem to think themselves not free, till they can feel their liberty in abusing and insulting their Teachers.
Koontz's application, highlights mine:

In America, your calling as a citizen is to have a conscience and to exercise your liberties of conscience which are secured to you by our constitution and a government that accords with it, but we never claimed were given to you by the constitution or by the government. Those things are intended to secure things that were given to you by God - like a right to life - so if you take away anything from this weekend everything that I'm saying is really just applying all the stuff that we've been saying about babies since the 1970s to your conscience and your soul. Very simple. Because that has always been the basic American contention on the basis of things that are not only, you know, in some of our cases our you know genealogical forbearers but certainly in all cases our theological forbearers themselves argued for. My life is not determined in state or church simply because some human being says so. It is determined by what God says and then a government in the state and a way of life in the church in accordance with what God says: known in the state especially through reason known in the church through the revealed word of God. Very simple. Secured to me, I hope, in the church for instance by confessions so the church doesn't get to say whatever it wants to say it needs to say what it has determined over time the Bible says. The state doesn't get to do whatever it wants to do it needs to do what is in accord with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which is set there for the securing of liberties, but the liberties are not there because they gave them to me or can take them away. And this is a gap in our immediate - not our European, but our American Lutheran forefathers - they talk a lot about it's great to be here in America and the government doesn't tell you what to believe that was a different time obviously, but they don't understand, and they don't really articulate that those liberties are not there simply because you're in America. You had those liberties wherever it is that you came from the government simply didn't recognize that.

I highly recommend listening to Koontz' four lectures from which this was extracted, on a Lutheran Response to Tyranny:

  1. Luther Amidst Tyranny
  2. Magdeburg Against Tyranny
  3. The Afterlife of Magdeburg in America
  4. Heirs of Luther and Magdeburg