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 They said, "Well the Old Testament (OT on out) is a Jewish book; it is obsolete, tribal, primitive - can't possibly be relative to Christian things, it's part of the past."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.
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.