Lutheran - another Confederate Flag

Just as the Confederate flag stands for the defence of slavery, the word Lutheran is a defence of anti-Judaism which instantly blurs to antisemitism all the way to the Holocaust.

On the Jews and Their Lies by Luther advises Protestants:
  1. to burn down Jewish synagogues and schools and warn people against them
  2. to refuse to let Jews own houses among Christians
  3. to take away Jewish religious writings
  4. to forbid rabbis from preaching
  5. to offer no protection to Jews on highways
  6. for usury to be prohibited and for all Jews' silver and gold to be removed, put aside for safekeeping, and given back to Jews who truly convert
  7. to give young, strong Jews flail, axe, spade, and spindle, and let them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow

and, going only a little further in the steps of tyranny, 'We are at fault in not slaying them.'

Time to repudiate 'Lutheran'?
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Comments

  • The term Lutheran was coined by the Council of Trent to demean the followers of Luther. Technically, the actual name for those followers is Evangelical.

    All "Lutheran" bodies of any import have repudiated Luther's views on the Jews about 50 years ago.

    In other words, this is a red herring.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    The Confederacy was founded explicitly for the purpose of advancing slavery.

    Luther did not post his Theses in order to advance anti-semitism.

    Thus, Lutheranism is more analagous to, say, the USA(ie. not founded to promote slavery, but it is a rotten thing they inherited from the British and continued to do), rather than to the CSA.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    The term Lutheran was coined by the Council of Trent to demean the followers of Luther. Technically, the actual name for those followers is Evangelical.

    All "Lutheran" bodies of any import have repudiated Luther's views on the Jews about 50 years ago.

    In other words, this is a red herring.

    Well, most of the mainstream bodies of the confession under discussion do use the term "Lutheran" to describe themselves, so I think it's okay for the rest of us to adopt it as well.

  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    There's a hell of a lot of anti-Judaism in Christianity other than what's in Luther's writings. Shall we just toss the whole thing?
  • Don't think so @Ruth. There is merit in examining which parts might be tossed though.

    I'm interested @Gramps49 in the 50 years timeline. So post WW2? That's pretty late given the Holocaust.

    With back and forth before depending on whether the pope was anti-Semitic, even the Rome ghetto was closed in 1870, though not by the pope who lost control when the Italy took over.
  • Martin, are you posting drunk?
  • As Ruth suggests, there may have been some anti-semitism on the Church even before Luther.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    So keep flying the flag. And @Ruth, the fact that Christianity became rapidly anti-Judaist and anti-semitic doesn't reflect on Christ. See what I did there?

    And no @Lamb Chopped, that's a late Friday night phenomenon.

    Luther's anti-Judaism arose because they didn't embrace his distortion of Paul, which is another, in fact the main, reason to dump the flag.

  • Yes, unfortunately, the LWF formal repudiation of Luther's anti-semitic writings did not happen until post-holocaust. However, many Lutherans were already rejecting them before the rise of Nazism.

    As Ruth said, we can go to other Christian leaders and find similar anti-Semitism.

    You have to remember, while my people would consider Luther a saint, we also realize he is just as much of a sinner.

    But, I am perplexed why Martin decided to be a troll on this.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    I'm perplexed how anyone can take his name. If Luther is a saint, who isn't? The Christian leader wasn't an anti-semite.
  • @Martin54 There seems no real reason to highlight Luther's odious opinions on Jews. Why did you choose to begin this assault on Christian evil with him? Why not Constantine's mother?
  • She was Scottish. What's evil about that?
  • Whatever Luther got right in his 95 theses nailed to the Wittenberg church door, is massively outweighed by his murderous rants against Judaism and the revolting peasants let alone his schoolboy error theology. That.
  • edited November 2020
    Dunno Martin. The Church of England owned slaves. Notwithstanding Monty Python, the Roman catholic inquisition did not use the comfy chair in their interrogations. All Christian empires have been racist, some continue to be so.

    What I think is that once a religion gains alliance with political power, it must begin to violate its own belief system such that it's founder would repudiate it and be against it were he still alive.

    Second, it's all a bunch of men who found religions. Precious few women involved.
  • Dunno Martin. The Church of England owned slaves. Notwithstanding Monty Python, the Roman catholic inquisition did not use the comfy chair in their interrogations. All Christian empires have been racist, some continue to be so.

    And the state churches of all of these empires thought up justifications to justify racist behaviour be they Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian ...
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    As far as I know, there isn't a tradition that St Helena was Scottish. Colchester has a claim on her but she's more usually supposed to have come from Asia Minor.

    In which case, did Luther say all that you're attributing to him @Martin54, or is all or some of what he's being accused of here fake news? I've picked up an impression that Martin Luther was anti-semitic, but before we go much further, might it not be useful if someone else, who is less biased and has more factual knowledge could verify for us which of @Martin54's 7 (actually 8) propositions can be laid at Luther's door and which are less certain or even of the order of St Helena's Scottishness?

  • Not going to feed the troll any more.
  • @Enoch

    I've seen the general gist of Martin's jaccuse repeated often enough in respectable mainstream sources that I wouldn't see much point in arguing about the particulars. Suffice to say, Luther ended up as an anti-semite who advocated various repressive measures against the Jews.

    As for Constantine's mother being Scottish, perhaps Martin was refering to the comic-book character played by Keanu Reeves in the movies? Wiki says he was born in Liverpool, but doesn't specify the ethnicity of his mom.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    As far as I know, there isn't a tradition that St Helena was Scottish. Colchester has a claim on her but she's more usually supposed to have come from Asia Minor.

    In which case, did Luther say all that you're attributing to him @Martin54, or is all or some of what he's being accused of here fake news? I've picked up an impression that Martin Luther was anti-semitic, but before we go much further, might it not be useful if someone else, who is less biased and has more factual knowledge could verify for us which of @Martin54's 7 (actually 8) propositions can be laid at Luther's door and which are less certain or even of the order of St Helena's Scottishness?

    Luther initially thought he could convert the Jews since he had the correct interpretation of Christianity; he was wrong. His failure changed his attitude towards the Jews who failed to convert and his last writings were extremely nasty. Luther was not exactly shy of using abusive language towards anyone or any group he considered his opponents. One of his last sermons included an exhortation to Eisleben, the city where was preaching, to expel the resident Jews unless they converted. He flat out accused Jews, and in particular Jewish doctors, of gladly killing Christians when they could. Eisleben expelled its Jewish residents shortly thereafter.

    I note that even a Christianity Today article agrees with our Martin on what Martin Luther wrote https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-39/was-luther-anti-semitic.html (some of the article is behind a paywall)
    A variant of the article is at https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/was-luther-anti-semitic
  • Enoch wrote: »
    In which case, did Luther say all that you're attributing to him @Martin54, or is all or some of what he's being accused of here fake news? I've picked up an impression that Martin Luther was anti-semitic, but before we go much further, might it not be useful if someone else, who is less biased and has more factual knowledge could verify for us which of @Martin54's 7 (actually 8) propositions can be laid at Luther's door and which are less certain or even of the order of St Helena's Scottishness?

    @Martin54's list seems to be based on Luther's treatise "On the Jews and Their Lies", which ran to ~65,000 words. Since the OP links to that same Wikipedia article I'm not sure how much more you want. Here's an English translation of the text itself, if you want to wade through 65,000 words of anti-Judaism.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    My apology to St. Helena and to Scotland and to Greece. The clue is in her name. I've 'known' she was Scottish for decades. That Constantine was a Scouse is excellent news. Of course Constantine I of Scotland would have had a Scottish mother. Check everything you think you know eh? Especially about those whose name you take. So, what did she say that was as wicked as St. Luther? And was her theology as school boy erroneous as his? I think not.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Dunno Martin. The Church of England owned slaves. Notwithstanding Monty Python, the Roman catholic inquisition did not use the comfy chair in their interrogations. All Christian empires have been racist, some continue to be so.

    And the state churches of all of these empires thought up justifications to justify racist behaviour be they Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian ...

    I think Martin was getting at the name of the church rather than its historical record. To put it another way: If it's right and proper for Liverpool University to rename Gladstone Hall because of Gladstone's record on slavery, should not the Lutheran World Federation also rename itself because of Luther's record on anti-Semitism?

    Personally (and ignoring the fact that I doubt many Lutherans were involved in Liverpool University's decision), I think there is a difference between naming something after a person in order to honour them, and naming it after a person as a purely descriptive measure; e.g.:

    a. St Paul's cathedral (or William George MacPhee Memorial Hall according to churchmanship);
    b. The King James Bible.

    In (a) you are definitely honouring St Paul. (b) is purely descriptive - you are simply distinguishing the translation that was commissioned by King James from, say, Wycliffe's or Tyndale's version. You aren't saying that James VI&I was a jolly good fellow.

    My impression is that 'Gladstone Hall' was closer to (a), but 'Lutheran' as a descriptor is closer to (b) - it is the church (or set of churches) that trace their ancestry back to Martin Luther.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    @Ricardus, with Lutheranism it's both, but yeah, Lutheran churches follow (a. murderous St.) Luther's schoolboy erroneous theology (b). So yeah, if one only follows that third rate theology, call yourself a Lutheran. As long as one doesn't honour Luther's murderous anti-Judaism and murderous rage at the oppressed peasantry and Roman Catholics.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    @Ricardus, with Lutheranism it's both, but yeah, Lutheran churches follow (a. murderous St.) Luther's schoolboy erroneous theology (b). So yeah, if one only follows that third rate theology, call yourself a Lutheran. As long as one doesn't honour Luther's murderous anti-Judaism and murderous rage at the oppressed peasantry and Roman Catholics.

    Neither of those asserted behaviours seems to find a place in any of the Lutheran Churches (spread over 3 continents) that I know of. Can you think of any?
  • I'd heard L had anti-Semitic views; but I don't think I'd heard he championed going so far against them. Blech.

    I don't know what should be done about "Lutheran", if anything. I've been gradually learning that there's always more to a person than we think, good and bad; and the stories of venerated or admired people (hagiography) may not be anything like what's been told about them. Sometimes, even their existence is questionable.

    Maybe this is kind of like tearing down statues honoring Confederate leaders from the US Civil War? Schools named for them are being renamed, too.

    I'm not Lutheran. But, in some ways, this issue might be worse than the Confederacy issue, simply because a Christian church should be trying to live out the ethics of the faith; and...well...Jesus was/is Jewish, so treating Jews badly in any way is like doing it to him.

    No idea what the Lutheran church *should* do.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Whatever Luther got right in his 95 theses nailed to the Wittenberg church door, is massively outweighed by his murderous rants against Judaism and the revolting peasants let alone his schoolboy error theology.

    Only if you let it.

    Were you to be "called home", I hope we here on the Ship would remember you for what we've learned from you and your virtues, rather than for the various things you got wildly wrong...
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Russ wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Whatever Luther got right in his 95 theses nailed to the Wittenberg church door, is massively outweighed by his murderous rants against Judaism and the revolting peasants let alone his schoolboy error theology.

    Only if you let it.

    Were you to be "called home", I hope we here on the Ship would remember you for what we've learned from you and your virtues, rather than for the various things you got wildly wrong...

    As wrong as Luther? As murderously wrong? Yeah historically, developmentally. Theologically? Likewise.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Gee D wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    @Ricardus, with Lutheranism it's both, but yeah, Lutheran churches follow (a. murderous St.) Luther's schoolboy erroneous theology (b). So yeah, if one only follows that third rate theology, call yourself a Lutheran. As long as one doesn't honour Luther's murderous anti-Judaism and murderous rage at the oppressed peasantry and Roman Catholics.

    Neither of those asserted behaviours seems to find a place in any of the Lutheran Churches (spread over 3 continents) that I know of. Can you think of any?

    Of course not. Any more than the burghers of Bristol, beneficiaries of the dunked slaver Colston or Confederate flag wavers, descendants of ancestors who lost a war with a million lives lost, want the slave trade holocaust back. I'm sure we can find perfectly inclusive uses for the names of other mass murderers. My wife was head of a school named for a child murdering king after all.

    Keep digging guys.
  • Anna_BaptistAnna_Baptist Shipmate Posts: 40
    Martin54 wrote: »
    My wife was head of a school named for a child murdering king after all.

    The King Herod the Great Academy in Leicester?
  • Richard III one imagines...
  • Although time hasn't sanitized him, it has Richard III from 1500 years later.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Martin54 wrote: »
    My wife was head of a school named for a child murdering king after all.

    The King Herod the Great Academy in Leicester?

    "Herod Academy. How may I help you?"

    "Hi. I'm wondering if I could register my child for the fall semester."

    "Certainly. Would that be a son or a daughter?"

    "Uh, son. Why?"

    "Ohhh, nothing."
  • I don't think it was only Luther who was anti-Semitic. Many Christians throughout the centuries have been anti Semitic - St John Chrysostom preached against the Jews for example..
    I am glad that in modern times most Christians have been able to repudiate the earlier distrust and hatred which they often showed to Jews and now recognise them as elder brothers in the Abramic faith.

    If we are able to understand that Luther preached often against Catholicism,or at the very least against things which he didn't like in Catholicism, it is not too surprising that he could preach against Jews also.. It certainly doesn't make it,by our modern standards ,right,but not too unusual for the 16th century

    I couldn't understand where the idea came from that the mother of Constantine was Scottish. Then I remembered that there was a Scottish St Constantine - indeed two of them and their stories/legends/hagiography are often intertwined.
    One of them was Constantine, King of Cornwall, who after a somewhat dissolute life, became a monk and evangelised in Scotland, possibly founding a monastery in Govan which is nowadays part of Glasgow and it is claimed that it is an earlier foundation than Glasgow. Govan Old Parish Church is the modern incarnation of the monastery. Nearby is St Constantine's RC church, quite close to the home of Glasgow Rangers football team at Ibrox stadium. Constantine of Strathclyde was around at approximately the same time.
  • @Forthview
    I don't think it was only Luther who was anti-Semitic.

    Understatement of the year.
  • stetson wrote: »
    @Forthview
    I don't think it was only Luther who was anti-Semitic.

    Understatement of the year.

    Again, Luther was anti-Judaist. As long as you became a good Catholic and peasant hating sola Protestant you were fine.
  • I agree that it is an understatement to say that Luther was anti Semitic but he was so much more than that and we have to try to see the bigger picture.
    Many people in what might have been called 'Christendom' in the past were anti Semitic and anti Muslim. If we put aside Martin Luther we would need to put aside many many others.
    Until fairly recent decades most people who counted themselves as 'European' would have seen it as fairly normal that they were part of a superior 'race' . We cannot simply dismiss everything that' European' society has done because they either explicitly or implicitly considered themselves to be superior to others.

    Many societies and many religions have considered themselves as superior to others,often in particular to those who are most like themselves.
  • @Forthview

    Just to clarify, I meant it was an understatement to say that Luther wasn't the ONLY anti-semite. IOW I was agreeing with you that there were many others, including those who came before him.
  • Luther did go beyond many of his contemporaries. Most of those in power were content to let Jews live in their own communities within the cities though with second class status. Luther was not.
    BTW when did Lutherans become comfortable with Christians lending money at interest?
  • Forthview wrote: »
    I agree that it is an understatement to say that Luther was anti Semitic but he was so much more than that and we have to try to see the bigger picture.
    Many people in what might have been called 'Christendom' in the past were anti Semitic and anti Muslim. If we put aside Martin Luther we would need to put aside many many others.

    But it's more complicated than just that, as blogger Fred Clark points out.
    Protestant Christians today still revere much of Martin Luther’s theology, even as we (mostly) reject his truly vicious anti-Semitism. Mohler is arguing, or perhaps simply hoping, that we can do the same with Boyce and Broadus and Manly — preserving and venerating most of their theology while rejecting their white supremacy as an unfortunate, unnecessary, tangent.

    But I don’t think the example of Martin Luther argues in the direction that Mohler thinks it does.

    It seems simple enough to regard Luther’s theology like a dim sum buffet. We’ll keep this, but not that. We’ll embrace his doctrine of justification by faith alone but reject his suggestions about burning Jewish schools and synagogues or prohibiting rabbis to teach. The former is a Good Idea and the latter is a Bad Idea, so we take the one but not the other. Easy peasy.

    Alas, though, these two things are not quite as distinct and easy to separate as we might like to think. It turns out that Luther’s idea of justification by faith alone informed his anti-Semitism and, at the same time, that anti-Semitism informed his doctrine of sola fide. Both were tangled up with, among other things, Luther’s misunderstanding of the first-century Judaism of Saul of Tarsus and thus of his misunderstanding of the theology he taught after becoming the Apostle Paul. Untangling all of that turns out to be a very complicated business. It is no simple matter to reconstruct a “pure” theology of Martin Luther minus the anti-Semitism.
  • BTW when did Lutherans become comfortable with Christians lending money at interest?

    When they had money to lend? ;)
  • Perfect @Crœsos. I felt that must be the case, particularly as Luther's theology is diametrically wrong.
  • Might it be that a rebranding of Lutheran is needed? It might provoke a good dialogue. It's not enough that Lutherans decided after WW2 to distance themselves from Luther while retaining his name.

    Hatred of Jewish people has a long tradition within Christianity. It recently came up again in the UK re a former party leader.

    These are the things that they call structural racism.
  • I'm going to have to think about this a good deal more, but my two reactions are to burn Martin54's house to the ground, or, destroy the entire edifice of western civilisation and come up with a novel set of theologies, ideologies, and prejudices. Which will undoubtedly satisfy his appetites for criticism. I'll return to this when I'm less likely to court Hostly censure.
  • Hot damn I love you Pee Gee. Get on with it. You can't miss the house from three hundred yards.
  • From where Roman troops used to march along the frontier.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    Who's asking?

    If the World Jewish Congress requested this, I think Lutherans would have to consider seriously the idea of changing their appelation (but not their core theology! :wink: ) Short of that, I don't think Lutherans perceive the word "Lutheran" as irredeemably tainted. No surprise there, I guess. Contra Fred Clark, I disagree that Lutheran theology is inextricably bound with anti-Semitism. I suspect most Lutherans would be surprised to hear about it.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    A propos, I served on a sub-sub-sub committee of Christian Jewish Dialogue some years ago, and no one ever suggested a name change for Lutherans. Perhaps they were being polite, more likely it wasn't part of the cultural scene in the way it is now.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    If I read Clark correctly he's not saying Lutheran theology is irredeemably tainted; just that untainting it is more complex than just saying ignore the explicitly antisemitic bits.

    That said, he's not doing an academic analysis of Luther: he's using Luther as a stalking horse for an attack on modern American Evangelicalism.
  • Lutheranism is diametrically opposite and opposed to Christ.
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