Philip of Hesse

Luther condoned, albeit very reluctantly, Philip of Hesse taking a second wife. I say his doing so was a matter of necessity to keep alive the split from a Roman Church many times more corrupt than the actions of one single prince, but I defer to your wise counsel. Thanks & Sola Fide.

Martin Luther’s confidential counsel to Philip of Hesse is not one with which we can agree. While that counsel was consistent with what he had written in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” it is an example of confessional Lutherans today not endorsing everything Martin Luther wrote or did.

Because the matter was intended to remain confidential, it is a matter of speculation to try to identify Luther’s motives. If the motive was to further the cause of the Reformation, that goal was not immediately successful because the fallout of the bigamous relationship brought criticism for Luther and hardships for Philipp of Hesse; Philip soon lost his influence as leader of the Smalcald League. If the motive was pastoral concern—as most believe—then the confidential advice was simply intended to address a complicated situation.

What can be said with certainty is that God blessed the efforts of the many reformers and confessors who defended the gospel of Jesus Christ. We today are the beneficiaries of those efforts and that blessing.