Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Luther's Flip-Flop on the Jews

In his early career as a reformer Luther wrote an essay saying that Jews should be treated kindly. Later on in his life he wrote a virulently anti-Jewish essay entitled “On the Jews and their Lies” in which he adopted typically anti-Jewish Christian attitudes. I consider this to be one of the great tragedies of history. If Luther had stayed with his original stand the attitude of German Protestantism toward Jews might have been different, and the anti-Jewish attitudes that resulted in the Holocaust would never have developed.

4 comments:

Jeffrey Levine said...

Luther condemmed the Church of Rome for its treatment of the Jews. Luther was convinced that if you treated the Jews like friends instead of enemies, the Jews would convert.

Luther tried that for 20 years, and very few Jews converted. Once his experiment failed, he became a very typical hate filled Christian, and wrote as such.

Anonymous said...

"he became a very typical hate filled Christian, and wrote as such."

Nice weasel words.

Luther's rant about the Jews dealt with theological issues, not one of race. I think that it is incorrect to say that he directly caused the holocaust. Certainly other cultures around the world hate the Jews and don't have Luther's book to fall back on.

At the very end of his life Luther flip flopped again and said some nice things about the Jews but saw their religion as wrong as the Muslim religion and a threat to his beliefs.

"Now I am going home, and perhaps I will never preach to you again, and I have blessed you and prayed you to stay always close to God's Word ... I see the Jews are still among you. Now we have to deal with them in a Christian manner and try to bring them to the Christian faith that they may receive the true Messiah who is their flesh and blood and of the seed of Abraham—though I am afraid Jewish blood has got watery and wild these days. Yet they must be invited to turn to the Messiah and be baptized in him ... If not then we must not suffer them to remain for they daily abuse and blaspheme Christ. I must not, you must not be a partaker of the sins of others. God knows I have enough to do with sins of my own, but if they will give up usury and receive Christ we will willingly receive them as our brethren . . . but if they call Mary a whore and Jesus her bastard still we must exercise Christian love towards them that they may be converted and receive our Lord . . . this I tell you as your Landeskind not to be partakers of the sins of others. If they turn from their blasphemies we must gladly forgive them, but if not we must not suffer them to remain!"

He called for them to be treated in a Christian manner, but not to be tolerated in the same way we tolerate people now in a pluralistic society. I'm not excusing Luther, but the reasons for the persecution of the Jews in Germany go far beyond a simple explanation of Luther's writings.

Gatsby Blastyn said...

he became a very typical hate filled Christian, and wrote as such.

Please tell me more about a very typical hate filled Christian.
I could make a similar assessment about you with how you slipped in that bit of emotion at the end of your post.

Gatsby Blastyn said...

Nevermind Jeffrey....
someone with a dummie blog set up having the title "Jews are Superior" clearly is in this for emotional reasons.