Re: Luther and the such

Robin Mandell (
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 16:37:05 -0600

At , you wrote:
>At 04:21 PM 2/28/99 -0500, you wrote:
>>What are we to make of Christ's words in John 8:37-59? A Jewish colleague on
>>mine on campus finds these words very offensive. Is the offensiveness of
>>words that matters? Must we also consider the truthfulness or falsehood of
>>the words as well? Is the Lord lying? Is He being misquoted? Perhaps
>>someone can clarify these points for me.
Hope that bit about the truth of the words is not being applied in regards
to Luther. That would be nonsense. I don't find the passage in John to be a
statement about Jews at all. Most of the "heroes" and "villains" in the
story are Jewish so it hardly seems to be about people groups as much as
heart types. Easily miss used when taken out of context but seems the group
in question had murder on their hearts. What seems the main problem for
your colleague.

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Robin Mandell <>
>>To: <>
>>Date: Thursday, February 25, 1999 11:14 AM
>>Subject: Re: Is this true about luther?
>>>>Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:28:19 -0600
>>>>To: Tom Pearson <>
>>>>From: Robin Mandell <>
>>>>Subject: Re: Is this true about luther?
>>>>As a Jew I would advise you to drop the "was he anti-semitic or not bit"
>>>in any public voice representing Jesus Christ. The Jewish community sees
>>>this as very offensive. His words were vile and inexcusable. I realize you
>>>were not defending him. Only a complete rejection and total about face from
>>>such poor shades of Christ will mean anything to the Jewish people.
>>>>At 09:48 AM 2/25/99 -0600, you wrote:
>>>>>At 06:47 AM 02/25/1999 -0800, E G M wrote:
>>>>>>Is this true about luther?
>>>>>>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.
>>>>>Speaking as a Lutheran, I must admit that this is a fair assessment of
>>>>>Luther's attitude toward the Jews of his time. However, it is worth
>>>>>that there is still controversy over whether Luther's attitude is
>>>>>designated "anti-Semitic." Insofar as the term "anti-Semitic" denotes an
>>>>>attitude of hostility toward the Jews on the basis of their ethnic or
>>>>>racial identity, Luther apparently doesn't qualify as "anti-Semitic." He
>>>>>demonstrates no interest in the racial identity or characteristics of
>>>>> They are unbelievers. He uses very similar language with regard to the
>>>>>"Turks and Huns" as that which he directs toward the Jews (and he
>>>>>on more than one occasion, the same language to express his animosity
>>>>>toward the "Papists"). For Luther, none of these peoples have any
>>>>>moral worth in themselves, as members of a certain race or culture, but
>>>>>only as objects of conversion. If they do not accept Christ, then they
>>>>>to be rejected as all heathen are to be rejected.
>>>>>Of course, given the events of the twentieth century, we may be inclined
>>>>>treat this effort to get Luther off the "anti-Semitic" hook as nothing
>>>>>than semantic dishonesty. Certainly, Luther did have harsh and violent
>>>>>things to say about the Jews. Nonethless, to call this "anti-Semitic"
>>>>>be deploying a modern term anachronistically to cover rather different
>>>>>attitudes on the part of figures from our own religious past.
>>>>>Tom Pearson
>>>>>Thomas D. Pearson
>>>>>Department of History & Philosophy
>>>>>The University of Texas-Pan American
>>>>>Edinburg, Texas