Since we joined the local Lutheran church (ELCiC) here about 15 years ago,
we've heard the odd reference to Luther's derogatory comments about the
Jews. Obviously, no Lutheran in his/her right mind would want to defend
Luther's pronouncements. On the contrary, Luther's comments are a
considerable embarrassment and Lutheran groups may well have issued formal
apologies to Jewish groups in the past.
I should make the following comments about Luther's statement concerning the
Luther's writings may well have reflected his frustration in his inability
to convert the Jews of his day. It may well have been a case where he felt
that the corrupted message and the excesses of the Roman Catholic church at
that time prevented the Good News to be heard by Jews and that, once these
errors had been corrected, Jews would accept Christ as their Messiah.
His writings should be seen as representing the views of his time
(Zeitgeist) and the prevailing high degree of intolerance at that time.
This intolerance (albeit to a much lesser degree) is also evident in other
writings of that time, for example, the Heidelberg catechism where
Anabaptists and Roman Catholics are held up as bad examples (I don't have a
copy of the catechism at hand, so I'm going from memory).
I don't know offhand what Luther died of but, four years before his death he
may have been suffering from an illness that affected his judgment.
This is not to excuse what Luther wrote. There is a lesson in it for all of
us that, no matter how hard one beavers away in God's garden, the devil
finds a way to "put a spanner in the works" (to mix metaphors).
I had a quick look at the South Carolina Web page that contains Luther's
quotation. It is apparently designed as a teaching aid and chronicles
anti-semitism over the years. From what I know about anti-semitism, it
appears to be factual.
Hope this helps.
> From: E G M[SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: February 25, 1999 8:47 AM
> To: List ASA
> Subject: Is this true about luther?
> Is this true about luther?
> Protestant Reformation
> from http://www.scetv.org/HolocaustForum/over1.html
> The Protestant Reformation, which split Christianity into different
> in the 16th
> Century, did little to reduce anti-Semitism. For much of his life the
> Reformation leader Martin Luther expressed moderate views toward Jews.
> Believing the
> Jews would become converts to the faith, Luther urged humane treatment.
> However when
> the Jews failed to convert, he turned against them. In his booklet Of
> Jews and
> Their Lies,
> published four years before he died in 1546, Luther advised:
> "First, their synagogues or churches should be set on
> fire....Secondly, their
> homes should
> likewise be broken down and destroyed....They ought be put under one
> roof or
> in a stable,
> like gypsies....Thirdly, they should be deprived of their
> prayerbooks....Fourthly, their rabbis
> must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore...."
> "in ipso enim vivimus et movemur et sumus sicut"
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