LUTHER  AND  THE  JEWS


FROM  THE  LECTURES  BY  PROFESSOR  PHILLIP  CARY



We're dealing now with Luther and conflict. We've been taking about political conflict, and then theological conflict. Now we're going to get to a conflict that is both theological and political, and the nastiest conflict, we're going to have to deal with Luther's attitude towards the Jews.


No assessment of of Luther's legacy for the modern world can neglect his hateful, violent, wicked polemic against the Jews. There is just nothing right about this stuff. It is awful and morally wrong. And it's important to say that - Luther's attitude towards the Jews, up front. It's not just painful and regrettable, it is wicked, it is wrong, and we need to think about what went wrong. How do you access Luther's legacy, which has some wonderful things in it, when there's this awful stuff in it. And we'll talk about how awful it is as we go.


I do want to contrast Luther's attack against the Jews, with other kinds of Christian hatred against the Jews. There's been too much of it; there's been quite the diverse variety of it. For one thing, Luther is not a modern racist, anti-semite. Luther is no Nazi. Though he does bear some responsibility here, he had such an influence on German culture, he injected a virus of anti-Judaism into German culture, which did in fact aid Hitler in his work. That's a terrible responsibility. 


But it's important to distinguish Luther's kind of anti-Judaism from the modern 20th century kind. It is different. 


I want to talk about Luther's attack on the Jews and its distinctiveness. He's not a Nazi. He's is responsible for some of the things the Nazi did I think, indirectly - very indirectly, but nonetheless responsible, but he's not a Nazi!


He's also unlike the general anti-semitism of many 19th century Protestant liberals, especially in Germany. They said, "Well the Old Testament (OT on out)  is a Jewish book; it is obsolete, tribal, primitive - can't possibly be relative to Christian things, it's part of the past." This "put-down" of the Jews, this tribal, obsolete, not up to date people - that's not part of any of Luther's view. The Jews are very up-to-date. And the Jewish Bible is for Luther a Christian book. Very relevant for Christianity. And that's the point of conflict we'll get to.


Another thing to distinguish Luther from the medieval superstitious and libels that are pasted on the Jews, this kind of slander against the Jews, for instance: Many medieval Christians thought Jews would poison wells, or kidnap Christian children for their blood. Luther will actually, in two or three paragraphs in a 200 page report, will mention these awful slanders and say: "Well maybe, maybe." But he knows in fact there is no good  evidence for them; that's not what is generating his attack on the Jews. It's inexcusable he even mentions them. That's not the heart of his attack on the Jews and we need to get to the heart of it.


Another teaching of Luther's attack on the Jews that is distinctive, is that his recommendations for how Christians ought to deal with the Jews are more VIOLENT than any other Christian theologian.  


NO GREAT CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIAN HAS BEEN SO VIOLENT IN HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE JEWS.


He wants to burn their synagogues, confiscate their property, destroy their homes, expel them from the country.


He doesn't actually recommend murdering them, but you cannot burn people's synagogues, and kick them out of the country, without at least threatening violence. 


These ARE VIOLENT proposals! 


They are MUCH WORST, say in any in Augustin or Calvin, or any other great Christian theologian. 


Luther is worst than any other Christian theologian, in his attitude towards the Jews!


All this is distinctive. And we need to zero in on what is distinctive about Luther's attack on the Jews.

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TO  BE  CONTINUED


WOW!!  THIS  SHOULD  BE  SENDING  SHIVERS  DOWN  YOUR  SPINE,  MAKING  YOUR  HAIR  STAND  ON  ITS  END.


WE  SHOULD  BE  SEEING  BY  NOW,  LUTHER  COULD  NOT  POSSIBLY  BE  A  MAN  CHOSEN  BY  GOD  TO  BRING  TRUTH  AND  LIGHT  TO  A  DARKENED  SPIRITUAL  WORLD.


LUTHER  WAS  NEVER  A  PART  OF  THE  TRUE  CHURCH  OF  GOD.  A  CHURCH  THAT  WAS  IN  EXISTENCE  BEFORE  LUTHER  AND  AFTER  LUTHER.


THAT  TRUE  CHURCH  OF  GOD  EXISTED  FROM  THE  DAY  OF  PENTECOST  IN  30  AD.  AND  JESUS  SAID  THE  GATES  OF  HELL  OR  THE  GRAVE  WOULD  NOT  PREVAIL  AGAINST  IT.  JESUS  CALLED  IT  THE  "LITTLE  FLOCK" [VERY  LITTLE  IS  THE  GREEK  MEANING]  AND  THE  "SALT  OF  THE  EARTH" - IT  WAS  SCATTERED  IN  THE  WILDERNESS  FOR  1260  YEARS,  IN  THE  HILLS  AND  VALLEYS  AND  FORESTS,  AWAY  FROM  THE  MIGHTY  ROMAN  CHURCH.  IT  WAS  KEEPING  THE  FAITH  ONCE  DELIVERED  TO  THE  SAINTS.  THERE  WAS  ONE  LAND  WHERE  IT  WAS  THE  NATIONAL  RELIGION  -  BRITAIN.  WHEN  THE  ROMAN  CHURCH  CAME  ABOUT  500  AD  THEY  REPORTED  BACK  TO  THE  POPE,  THAT  THE  BRITISH  WERE  HERETICS,  HOLDING  TO  A  JEWISH  TYPE  CHRISTIANITY.  IT  TOOK  THE  ROMAN  CHURCH  TILL  ABOUT  1100  AD  TO  CONQUER  THE  BRITISH  ISLES  WITH  ROME'S  THEOLOGY.  ALL  THIS  IS  IN  OTHER  STUDIES  UNDER  THIS  HISTORY  SECTION  OF  MY  WEBSITE.


Keith Hunt