Martin Luther's antisemitism, etc

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by AITB, Apr 4, 2003.

  1. AITB

    AITB
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    I originally had this on a different thread but I'd like to have this one be about Luther instead of taking someone else's off-topic any further.

    Maybe the quote I shared on the other thread was not Luther, actually. I found this:

    "Gastins, sarcastically, used to say, as he ordered the Anabaptists drowned: "They like immersion so much let us immerse them."

    (on this page

    Also on the same page it says:

    "Luther was a firm believer in dipping, and understood the Anabaptists to be dippers. Indeed some charge that the Anabaptists took the cue for their immersions from Luther himself. Robinson says: "Luther bore the Zuinglians dogmatizing; but he could not brook a further reformation in the hands of the dippers. What renders the great man's conduct the more surprising is, that he had himself, seven years before, taught the doctrine of dipping. * * * The Catholics tax Luther as being the father of the German dippers, some of the first expressly declare, they received their first ideas from him, and the fact seems undeniable, but the article of reforming without him he could not bear. This is the crime objected against them, as it had been against Carolostadt. This exasperated him to the last degree, and he became their enemy, and notwithstanding all he had said in favor of dipping, persecuted them under the title of re-dippers, re-baptizers, or Anabaptists."

    So although the quote wasn't from Luther, he does seem to have persecuted the Anabaptists.

    There is an extended quote by Luther about the Jews here:

    Luther's Advice For Dealing With Jews

    If you think Luther was not anti-semitic please explain how someone could write the above and not be. I think each of us is responsible for what we say and do. Luther evidently did write the above - and more - about the Jews, himself.

    Helen/AITB
     
  2. Jude

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    During the so-called 'Peasants Revolt', Luther sided with the German princes, and called for them to 'slay, stab, and smite'the rebels. One of the few problems I have with Luther...
     
  3. AITB

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    Yes, I think he was 'pro-state' to a fault...

    Helen/AITB
     
  4. Chrift

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    To address the Anabaptist comments. I may be misunderstanding you (I don't know which post you care carrying over from), but from what I gather you are saying that Luther supported immersion, but was against the Anabaptists, who preferred immersion. Assuming this is correct...

    Luther did prefer immersion. Luther also saw sprinkling and pouring as valid modes of baptism. In his liturgies and some of his other writings, pouring alone is the only mode mentioned. In short, he saw baptism done with any ammount water and in the name of the Triune God as being valid. Luther's main beef with the Anabaptists was their rejection of their infant baptism and re-baptisims.

    The other link you provide below is taken from Against the Jews and Their Lies . This is the rest of it. I have linked a non-Lutheran (to my knowlege) web site by the way to keep it somewhat objective. This is all I have time for at the moment.
     
  5. Chemnitz

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    Everbody cites Luther in his diatribe against the peasants revolt, yet nobody seems to remember him admonishing the princes for going to far in puting down the revolt and for creating conditions that would lead to a revolt.

    It is very easy to write something like Against the Jews and not be an antisemite. It is called being angered by their actions and attitudes. Luther's original writings concerning the Jews were ones of praise and even concern for their eternal salvation. It was only after they rejected the Gospel and flaunted that fact that Luther grew angry and wrote his diatribe against the Jews.

    Luther was pro-state, because he took Romans 13 very seriously. He also assumed that the princes would act in such a fashion that they would be a benefit to their people.
     
  6. Jude

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    from another source...

    "An Epistle of Straw"
    Luther found that his doctrine of salvation by faith alone was flatly contradicted by the Epistle of Saint James, which says: "For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:26) He thereupon excluded it from his Bible, declaring it was "an epistle of straw." While he claimed for himself the right to interpret Scripture, he vehemently denied that right to others. "Whoever teaches otherwise that I teach, condemns God, and must remain a child of hell." (Saemmtliche Werke, XXVIII, p. 346) And again: "I can hear and endure noting which is against my teaching." (Works, ed. Walch, VIII, 1974)

    When the peasants, fired by Luther's revolutionary spirit and example, engaged in the Peasant' War, Luther turned on them with savage ruthlessness, urging the nobles to kill these "children of the devil" and to track them down like dogs. His advice was followed literally. Thousands of these poor peasants were murdered with atrocious cruelty. In one of the letters of Erasmus, (Epis. 803) the number of slain is placed at 100,000. Far from regretting such an orgy of wanton human slaughter, Luther prided himself upon it saying: "I, Martin Luther, slew al the peasants in the rebellion, for I said that they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it on the Lord God, Who commanded me to speak in this way." (Werke, Erl. edition LIX, p. 284, "Table Talk"; see also Grisar, Vol. III, P. 213)

    The cruelties which Luther urged the princes to heap upon the peasants drew from his co-reformer, Osiande, the following rebuke: "Alas! Poor peasants, whom Luther flatters, and caresses when they attack only the bishops and priests; but when the insurgents, laughing at his Bull, threaten him and his princes, then he sends forth another Bull, decreeing their slaughter like so many wild beasts." (Parsons. "Studies in Church History" VII. III. p. 315)

    As a result of dealing with the peasants in the brutal manner recommended by Luther, A.F. Pollard states that: "To the end of the eighteenth century the German peasantry remained the most wretched in Europe. Serfdom lingered there longer than in any other civilized country save Russia, and the mass of the people wee effectively shut out from the sphere of political action. The beginnings of democracy were crushed in the cities." ("Cambridge Modern History", II. 191.)

    Instead of becoming gentler and more tolerant with age, Luther grew more rancorous and vituperative. A short time before his death he wrote two frightfully abusive pamphlets. One was Against the Papacy, Founded by the Devil at Rome, the other was against the Jews. The frontispiece in the first pamphlet was a shockingly vulgar picture of a piece with the contents. This production, the German historian, Doellinger, termed "a document whose origin can scarcely be explained otherwise than by supposing that Luther wrote the most of it when he was under the influence of intoxicating drink." (Doellinger, "Luther", p. 48)"

    And from another source....

    " Peasant's Revolt
    During 1524, encouraged by Luther's concept of the freedom of a Christian man, which they applied to economic and social spheres, German peasants revolted against their lords. Long ground down by the nobles, the peasants included in their twelve demands the abolition of serfdom--unless it could be justified from the gospel--and relief from the excessive services demanded of them.

    At first, Luther recognized the justice of the peasants' complaints, but when they turned to violence against established authority, he lashed out against them. In a virulent pamphlet, Against the Thievish and Murderous Hordes of Peasants, Luther called on the princes to "knock down, strangle, and stab...and think nothing so venomous, pernicious, or Satanic as an insurgent."

    In 1525 the princes and nobles crushed the revolt at a cost of an estimated 100,000 peasant lives. The surviving peasants considered Luther a false prophet. Many of them returned to Catholicism or turned to more radical forms of the Reformation."
     
  7. Harald

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    To me the above things are just another proof of Luther having been a man void of eternal life. He exhibited much of a murderous spirit. How can eternal life reside in such a man?

    Harald
     
  8. Bible-belted

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    Luther was very much a man of his time. As we all are in various ways, he was subborned by the spirit of the age. He was not the worst of his age nor the best. He was like all believers an earthen vessel in which the glory of God resided.
     
  9. Jude

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    I'm not sure I agree about the 'glory of God' residing in Luther. Luther tore the Church apart. Yes, the Roman church was corrupt and needed Reformation...but it didn't need a divorce.
     
  10. Chrift

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    Luther's stance on James proves he had a high and exalted view of the instiration and inerrancy of the canonical Scriptures. Luther didn't question the inerrancy of the bible, but questioned "is this part of the inerrant bible?". Luther believed that the bible could not contradict itself, yet in his eyes James contradicted Paul. Luther did include James in his bible translations and held it on a much higher level then the Apocrypha, but not as high as the Apostle writers. I don't agree with Luther's conclusion about James, but I believe his conclusion was drawn for the right reasons.


    In addition to Chemnitz's comments I would like to add a brief history leading up to Luther's tract. In Moravia (early 1540s) Lutherans began enforcing the Sabbath and circumcision, Luther became upset that law was replacing Gospel. Rabbis were drawing Christians away from their faith and even began publishing Jewish apologetic pamphlets against Lutherans. Count Schlink brought a copy to Luther and requested a reply. Furious, Luther replied with his tract. Luther responded sharply when responding to attacks against God and His Word. The Jews put people to death for blaphemy, yet write "Jesus is a whore's son, his mother Mary was a whore, who conceived him in adultery with a blacksmith."-Der gantz Juedisch glaub. Although I don't agree with all of the language Luther uses (maybe I would think differently reading it in the 16th century) I can understand where his anger came from.

    Regardless, Luther's tract was about religeon and not race and is not nazi antisemitism as some accuse.
     
  11. AITB

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    I disagree - I think it's very hard to write something like Against the Jews if your heart is filled with the love of God.

    Do you think Luther was submitted to the Holy Spirit and under the Spirit's control when he wrote Against The Jews?

    You can make excuses for him if you want, but I would rather be honest, for the sake of Christ, so Christ's name and reputation is not defiled, and say "that was not of the Holy Spirit - that was sinful carnal behavior". If we won't say that then we are implying that Luther was behaving in a Christlike way in writing that. With which I absolutely, totally, disagree.

    Helen/AITB
     
  12. Aaron

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    Was St. Paul antisemitic? The Jews say he was. Is there any tone in Luther's writings more condemnatory than in Paul's?

    (NOTE: It should be noted that by Jews I am referring to those who are Jews by creed. Not those who are Jews by blood. That is the sense that both Paul and Luther used.)

    [edit: the sense that Paul and Luther used were those who are Jews by creed. I should have worded that better. [​IMG] ]

    [ April 05, 2003, 03:20 PM: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  13. Bible-belted

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    I'm not sure I agree about the 'glory of God' residing in Luther. Luther tore the Church apart. Yes, the Roman church was corrupt and needed Reformation...but it didn't need a divorce. </font>[/QUOTE]To say Luther tore the church apart is a gross misstatement of the facts. Luther was quite willing to remain in the church, but the Papacy refused to be conciliatory and forced the issue. It was, as ususal, papal pretensions that forced the split. Luther did not set out to get a divorce. But the Pope refused counsellling and mediation.
     
  14. AITB

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    Judge for yourself...here are some quotes from "On Jews and Their Lies"

    What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming.

    First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them the fact that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.

    Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home.

    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us an they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause.


    Those are just some excerpts.

    So do you think Luther was no more condemnatory than Paul? Do you think Luther's suggestions here are likely to lead Jews to Christ?

    Helen/AITB
     
  15. Aaron

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    I've read Jews and Their Lies.

    Here are some excerpts from St. Paul:

    It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles, Acts 13:46.

    I would they were even cut off which trouble you, Gal. 5:12.

    Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman, Gal. 4:30.

    For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God, Rom. 2:28-29.

    If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha, 1 Cor. 16:22.

    I don't see that Paul here was any less severe than Luther—less detailed, perhaps, but less severe? I don't see Luther calling to have them castrated!

    If one is to combine church and state as did Luther and Calvin, how would it be any different? So, you see, Luther's error was not his, but that of his time. And he was not anti-semitic. That is a racist attitude. His objection was to the creed, which also was Paul's objection.
     
  16. Chemnitz

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    I have to agree with Chrift, Bible-belted, and Aaron. Luther was reacting the open blasphemy of the Gospel by the Jews and by no means did he wish to split the church. To express the desire to destroy anything that openly blasphemes against the Gospel is not un-Christlike, Christ himself trashed the Temple Courtyard when he threw out the moneychangers. To his dying day Luther maintained that he was Catholic, he is often quoted as saying he is more Catholic than the pope himself.

    In the same way it does in every other person, by the Grace of God.
     
  17. Kiffin

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    Luther was a religious anti-semitic but not a racial anti-semitic. He said some stupid hatefull things and over reacted to the Jewish Talmud's blasphemous statements.

    How many of us have said stupid, hatefull things? Would we want every thing we think published? He that is without sin cast the first stone at Luther. This is just a small part of Luther's life and all Protestants owe him a debt. It is doubtful there would even be a Baptist Board were it not for Dr. Luther.
     

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