The tract on the question Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved was suggested to Luther by Asa von Kram, a counselor of Duke Ernst of Brunswick-Luneberg. The suggestion was made when they met in Wittenberg immediately after the Peasantsí War. It was renewed in January, 1526, when the two met again in Torgau. In October, 1526, the work was finished. It was published before January 1, 1527.
This tract is closely related to Lutherís writings on the Peasantsí War and to those on government. This whole group of writings should be read together, if Lutherís views on the subjects here discussed are to be thoroughly understood.
Lutherís view of war was that it is a necessary evil. It has a rightful place in the world, but only as a means for the repression of wrong; when used for that purpose, it is justified. He attempts to guard this doctrine against abuse by distinguishing between three kinds of war, ó that of inferiors against superiors, which is never justified; that of equals against equals, which may be justified, but must never be war of aggression; and that of superiors against inferiors, which is simply an application of the policepower that belongs to the State. The classification of superiors, equals and inferiors is feudal and is based upon the distinctions which the feudal system made between overlords and vassals. It was on the basis of these views that Luther resisted the attempt to create a league of Protestant princes to defend the Reformation. Prior to the Diet of Augsburg, he maintained that any effort on the part of the Emperor to repress Lutheranism should be met with merely passive resistance, but any attempt by the Catholic princes to repress it might be resisted actively. f48 The text of this tract is found in Weimar Ed., 19:623 ff., Erlangen Ed., 22:246 ff.; St. Louis Ed., 10:488 ff.; Berlin Ed., 7:383 ff.,CLEMEN 3:317 ff. For Literature, see the Introductions in Weimar and Berlin Eds. and KARL HOLL, Luther (1923), pp. 267 ff.