Friday, August 03, 2007

Too many Infidels refuse to read for themselves

Luther's "On the Jews and their Lies" was a theological argument denouncing "lies against doctrine or faith [and] . . . wanton and conscious blasphemy . . . ," and expressing his hope that a "a sharp mercy . . . might save at least a few . . . ," but it was in his previous and his last statements on a proper Christian attitude toward the Jewish people that he actually displayed one.

From the thread here.
Aratus[,]

First, Hitler's anti-semitism grew out of the the Jew hating fervor that had dominated Germany for hundreds of years, thanks to Martin Luther, and other Catholic and Protestant leaders in the time . . . Here's some choicer bits from Martin Luther, who profoundly influenced German thought and language:
"Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them."

"Do not their Talmud and rabbis write that it is no sin to kill if a Jew kills a heathen, but it is a sin if he kills a brother in Israel? It is no sin if he does not keep his oath to a heathen. Therefore, to steal and rob (as they do with their moneylending) from a heathen, is a divine service . . . And they are the masters of the world and we are their servants -- yea, their cattle!"
. . . from the tenets of men like Martin Luther, who despised the Jews and were the ruling Christian leaders of the day. Hitler himself has said he is doing the Lord's work by destroying the Jews. Hitler recounts the influences these Christians had on him . . . This is a man inspired by Scripture, and brought up in an environment that assured him an entire race of people was evil.
Your quotes do not support the points you're trying to make. Your misuse of them indicates you've not done your own research. If you're going to stake your credibility on other authorities, make sure they have at least a modicum of intellectual integrity.

Hitler's anti-Semitism and genocidal impulse could not have been inspired by Scripture as you imply, since Jesus forbade murder and racism and, most importantly, Christ is Jewish. The first Christians, the Apostles, the Prophets, and the Scriptures themselves are all Hebrew/Jewish!

(If you want to identify a major influence in Hitler's career path, Darwinism seems a good place to start.)

Luther was no anti-Semite. He wrote kindly of Jews in other contexts.

Yes, "The Jews and their Lies" sounds terrible. Those with an agenda against Luther or Christianity often misrepresent what he wrote to suggest he was a medieval proto-Hitler. That is false.

If you ever read "the little book" for yourself (your misuse of the quotes above makes it seem as though you haven't), you'll find several things:
First, Luther's anger was not directed at Jews on racial grounds; it was based on theological grounds (and some practical issues, like usury).

Second, the punishments to which he referred were from the Torah, applicable to the nation of Israel alone under the Mosaic Covenant (see Deuteronomy 13). They were the consequences for Israel's following false gods.

Third, the rhetoric of the sixteenth century often sounds harsh to modern ears. Luther['s language] was no exception.

Fourth, Luther was appealing to the government to exercise its civil authority. He was not suggesting Christians harm Jews:
"With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves."
Lutherans and Catholics aided Jews and resisted Hitler, even when it meant death.

Making a false moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam is not only intellectually dishonest, it is suicidal. Neither Lutherans nor Catholics are flying planes into buildings or beheading schoolgirls while shouting, "Glory to Christ!"

Your hatred of Christianity blinds you to a real enemy:
"And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected" (Qur'an 2:65). "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? Those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil; these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path" (Qur'an 5:60)!

"Allah's Apostle said, 'The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him"'" (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177).

". . . We were (sitting) in the mosque when the Messenger of Allah . . . came to us and said: (Let us) go to the Jews. We went out with him until we came to them. The Messenger of Allah . . . stood up and called out to them (saying): O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will be safe.

. . . .

"he killed their men, and distributed their women, children and properties among the Muslims, except that some of them had joined the Messenger of Allah . . . who granted them security. They embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah . . . turned out all the Jews of Medlina. Banu Qainuqa' (the tribe of 'Abdullah b. Salim) and the Jews of Banu Haritha and every other Jew who was in Medina.

. . . .

"It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah . . . say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim" (Muslim Book 019, Number 4363-4366).
By the way, Islam does promote nationalism, only in Allah's grand design there is to be only one nation ultimately:
"Allah's Apostle said: 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle . . . '" (Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24).
*The LCMS position on Luther's Anti-Semitism:
Q. What is the Missouri Synod's response to the anti-Semitic statements made by Luther?

A. While The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod holds Martin Luther in high esteem for his bold proclamation and clear articulation of the teachings of Scripture, it deeply regrets and deplores statements made by Luther which express a negative and hostile attitude toward the Jews. In light of the many positive and caring statements concerning the Jews made by Luther throughout his lifetime, it would not be fair on the basis of these few regrettable (and uncharacteristic) negative statements, to characterize the reformer as "a rabid anti-Semite." The LCMS, however, does not seek to "excuse" these statements of Luther, but denounces them (without denouncing Luther's theology). In 1983, the Synod adopted an official resolution addressing these statements of Luther and making clear its own position on anti-Semitism. The text of this resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism are a continuing problem in our world; and

WHEREAS, Some of Luther's intemperate remarks about the Jews are often cited in this connection; and

WHEREAS, It is widely but falsely assumed that Luther's personal writings and opinions have some official status among us (thus, sometimes implying the responsibility of contemporary Lutheranism for those statements, if not complicity in them); but also

WHEREAS, It is plain from scripture that the Gospel must be proclaimed to all people--that is, to Jews also, no more and no less than to others (Matt. 28:18-20); and

WHEREAS, This Scriptural mandate is sometimes confused with anti-Semitism; therefore be it

Resolved, That we condemn any and all discrimination against others on account of race or religion or any coercion on that account and pledge ourselves to work and witness against such sins; and be it further

Resolved, That we reaffirm that the bases of our doctrine and practice are the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions and not Luther, as such; and be it further

Resolved, That while, on the one hand, we are deeply indebted to Luther for his rediscovery and enunciation of the Gospel, on the other hand, we deplore and disassociate ourselves from Luther's negative statements about the Jewish people, and, by the same token, we deplore the use today of such sentiments by Luther to incite ant[i]-Christian and/or anti-Lutheran sentiment; and be it further

Resolved, That in our teaching and preaching we take care not to confuse the religion of the Old Testament (often labeled "Yahwism") with the subsequent Judaism, nor misleadingly speak about "Jews" in the Old Testament ("Israelites" or "Hebrews" being much more accurate terms), lest we obscure the basic claim of the New Testament and of the Gospel to being in substantial continuity with the Old Testament and that the fulfillment of the ancient promises came in Jesus Christ; and be it further

Resolved, That we avoid the recurring pitfall of recrimination (as illustrated by the remarks of Luther and many of the early church fathers) against those who do not respond positively to our evangelistic efforts; and be it finally

Resolved, That, in that light, we personally and individually adopt Luther's final attitude toward the Jewish people, as evidenced in his last sermon: "We want to treat them with Christian love and to pray for them, so that they might become converted and would receive the Lord" (Weimar edition, Vol. 51, p. 195).
A comment from here:
Luther was confident that once the Gospel was proclaimed purely-salvation by grace through faith in Christ, God's people would embrace it.

When there was not a great conversion he grieved and was very angry. However,
he publicly condemned the burning of Jewish books, defended Reuchlin and condemned the destruction of a synagogue by zealots.

I think his language against the Jews was in most cases no different than that against the Schwammerie [sic], peasants in revolt and, of course, the Papists.
Some more on Luther's vitriol, from the introduction to a translation by Martin H. Bertram:
In 1523, Luther's concluding comments and practical recommendations concerning the Jews had been as follows:
"Therefore, I would request and advise that one deal gently with them and instruct them from Scripture; then some of them may come along. Instead of this we are trying only to drive them by force, slandering them, accusing them of having Christian blood if they don't stink, and I know not what other foolishness. So long as we thus treat them like dogs, how can we expect to work any good among them? Again, when we forbid them to labor and do business and have any human fellowship with us, thereby forcing them into usury, how is that supposed to do them any good? If we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them not by papal law but by the law of Christian love. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either."
Compared to the foregoing, Luther's treatise On the Jews and Their Lies exhibits quite a different attitude. Here we find Luther treating the Jews with the "arrogance and scorn" that he had condemned in 1523. Rather than "dealing gently" with them, he advocates exceedingly harsh measures. As to the Jews' economic role, he overlooks the fact that the restrictions which a Christian society had placed on them may have forced them into usury; he now blames solely their avarice and cunning. In short, his image of the Jews and his recommendations concerning them are almost wholly negative.

. . .

It is, indeed, difficult to determine to what extent Luther's anti-Semitism, as expressed in the treatises of 1543, represents merely a distillation and concentration of the traditional Christian enmity toward the Jews, and to what extent it was fed by special elements of his own theology or by the dynamics of his own personality. A psychological analysis is difficult at this historical distance, though it is clear that Luther harbored an immense capacity for hatred, which could be directed variously at Jews, papists, Schwärmer, or other adversaries [including Turks, i.e., Muslims], and which in each case quite obscured the human countenance of the opponent. Equally clear is Luther's gift of language; this in itself lent special intensity to the anti-Jewish commonplaces he repeated.

As to theological factors, it can be said quite firmly that Luther's negativity toward the Jews was in no way due to a Marcionitic attitude which would disparage the role of the Hebrew Scriptures or postulate a disjunction between the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the God and Father of Jesus Christ. As strongly as he might insist on the distinction between law and gospel, Luther never equated these directly with the Old and the New Testaments as such. The God of wrath and mercy has been at work since the days of Adam, and the Old Testament, like the New, testifies both to his judgment and to his grace. The Hebrew Bible, therefore, is for Luther in every sense Holy Scripture.

This very fact, however-Luther's profound respect for the Old Testament-might well be seen as a factor contributing to the sharpness of his polemic against the Jews. The question at issue in large portions of the present treatise is: Whose interpretation of these sacred Scriptures-that of the Jews or that of the Christians-is correct? For Luther, their proper meaning is Christological. But this in turn raised for him-as it had for earlier participants in the age-old Jewish-Christian controversy-the question of who should be regarded as the legitimate heirs of ancient Israel, the Christian church or post-biblical Judaism. Has the new covenant so entirely replaced the old that the Jews no longer have any claim to the title "people of God"?
And this from the Medieval Sourcebook:
At the beginning of his career it is often said that Luther was apparently sympathetic to Jewish resistance to the Catholic Church. He wrote, early in his career:
The Jews are blood-relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.
However, sometime before 1517, in his Letters to Spalatin, we can already see that Luther's hatred of Jews, best seen in [h]is 1543 letter, was not some affectation of old age, but was present very early on. Luther expected Jews to convert to his purified Christianity. When they did not, he turned violently against them.

It is impossible for modern people to read the horrible passages below and not to think of the burning of synagogues in November 1938 on Krystalnacht. Nor would one wish to excuse Luther for this text.

A number of points must, however, be made. The most important concerns the language used. Luther used violent and vulgar language throughout his career: he was not a man to say "manure" when he meant "shit". We do not expect religious figures to use this sort of language in the modern world, but it was not uncommon in the early 16th century. Second, although Luther's comments seem to be proto-Nazi, they are better seen as part of tradition of Medieval Christian anti-semitism. While there is little doubt that Christian anti-Semitism laid the social and cultural basis for modern anti-Semitism, modern anti-Semitism does differ in being based on pseud[o]-scientific notions of race. The Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews who had converted to Christianity: Luther would have welcomed them.

None of this justifies what follows, but it may help to comprehend what is being written here . . . .
**Last updated 1/26