Luther was an Anti-Semite and You Might Be, If...

-By Pastor Bob Enyart
Denver Bible Church
Talk Host, KGOV.com

Cover of an edition of Martin Luther's racist book, On the Jews and their Lies* Luther's "On the Jews and their Lies": As a Protestant myself, I sadly acknowledge the racism of a Protestant hero, Martin Luther. My review of Luther's 1543 book On the Jews and their Lies appears over at Google Books and at Amazon. From that review, and from my book The Plot, consider:

luther-kritische-gesamtausgabe.jpg
The Critical Collection in German 

As the Pastor of Denver Bible Church, before quoting the following excerpts from Luther's book, I asked Alfred, a friend from Germany, to go with me to the University of Colorado's library in Boulder to confirm that the following English passages accurately translate Luther's original German. Alfred opened Vol. 53 (of 67) of Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Critical Collection, publishing in Weimar, Germany, began with H. Böhlau in 1883). He read words showing a horrifying depth of racism and hatred. Alfred's hands shook and he choked back tears, but translated essentially these same words that you can read here.

I took the following excerpts from the English version, Volume 47, of Luther's Works translated by Martin H. Bertram, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1971. Luther opens his book like this:

"I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them… these miserable and accursed people… Much less do I propose to convert the Jews, for that is impossible." -Luther, p. 137

"Listen, Jew, [your] Jerusalem… temple and priesthood have been destroyed for over 1,460 years... Let the Jews bite on this nut…" -Luther, p. 138

The more he wrote, the less inhibited he became and the more obvious his own sin became. Essentially, Martin Luther eventually advocated the genocidal slaughter of the Jews:

"So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them." -Luther, p, 267

Luther produced significant work after authoring his racist texts so defenders err to dismiss his vile words as the products of old-age dementia. This wickedness does not have to be understood, but only condemned. However, understanding a primary factor in this evil can help prevent it from surfacing in others. Those who read or listen to our overview of the Bible called The Plot understand immediately why Martin Luther (like many other Christians who have missed the sweeping plot of the Old and New Testaments) hated and eventually gave public expression to his sin of hatred of the Jews. Then, as  a little leaven leavens the whole lump, over time Luther's hatred infected most of Germany. Adolf Hitler writing in Mein Kampf later echoed Luther's sentiments:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." -Adolph Hitler, p. 65 (translated by Ralph Manheim, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971)

Of course as David Berlinski points out the German National Socialists recognized no authority above their own. They referenced God the way many American politicians do as a political ploy to broaden their support. Martin Luther went on to claim that the Jews have a plan of:

"…finally overcoming us, killing us all… and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope)." p. 267

Luther chose to believe and spread the lies he had heard about the Jews. In 1994, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America repudiated Luther's anti-Jewish statements. Some though seek to dilute Luther's guilt by quoting friendly statements from his 1523 work, That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew. However, in the 1520s, the reformer had high hopes of converting Jews. When that didn't happen, he eagerly disseminated the misinformation and hatred that his generation had inherited from earlier centuries. (This included the viciously wicked and insanely conspiratorial blood libel claim that the eyes of Jews shined because they drank the blood of Gentile children. Also, while throughout that period Khabbalistic and other Jewish writings presented their own blood as pure as against impure Gentile blood, another absurd Christian fiction arose that Jewish men menstruated.) Still others, also tragically trying to defend Luther, claim that these sentiments were from an older, frustrated man of declining health. However, Luther was at his maturity and continued to write important commentaries after completing On the Jews in 1543.

Final excerpts, from pages 268 to 272, horrifically prefigure Hitler and the National Socialists as Martin Luther describes what should be done to the Jews:

Dr. Michael Brown's book, Our Hands are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the Church and the Jewish People
kgov.com/stained

"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… Moses… would be the first to set fire to the synagogues and houses of the Jews."

"Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed… Instead, they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn…"

"Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings… be taken from them."

"Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life…"

My German friend stood among the stacks reading, sweating, and translating faster until, under his breath, he began reading only in German. We both noticed his hands shaking. While we had heard accusations of Luther's anti-Semitism, the extent of the actual hatred horrified us both. Luther's suggestions continued:

"Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the country-side… Let them stay at home."

"Sixth, I advise… that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them…"

Then Luther adds, "let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., compute with them how much their usury has extorted from us, divide this amicably, but then eject them forever from the country."

luther-wittenberg-church-antisemite-pig.jpg
Wittenberg anti-Semitic Judensau at Luther's church

* Luther's Vom Schem Hamphoras: Additional evidence for Luther's anti-Semitism isn't needed. But to broaden the blame, the photo (right) documents the anti-Semitic "artwork" installed in 1305 on the exterior of a German church, which remained in place throughout Luther's life and with his explicit approval. Martin Luther married, baptized his six children, and regularly preached here at Stadtkirche (city church) Wittenberg. Luther's pulpit, preserved and displayed in the Luther House museum, came from this church. A Judensau, in use for over six centuries, is a "Jewish pig" theological, linguistic, and graphic insult. About this specific Judensau on his Wittenberg church, Luther wrote, in that same year, 1543, on pages 34 and 35 of his 125-page Vom Schem Hamphoras:

"Here in Wittenburg, in our parish church, there is a sow carved into the stone under which lie young pigs and Jews who are sucking; behind the sow stands a rabbi who is lifting up the right leg of the sow, raises behind the sow, bows down and looks with great effort into the Talmud under the sow, as if he wanted to read and see something most difficult and exceptional; no doubt they gained their Shem Hamphoras from that place."

The text on the Judensau was added to quote these words of Luther. His gibberish, Shem hamphoras, is a corruption of a Hebrew phrase for the hidden or "secret name of God" and Rabini is apparently a reference to Rabbis. Luther's revolting hatred highlights centuries of sinful wickedness, from those who name the name of Christ, against the Jews whom, like all peoples, God loves.

* You Might Be An Anti-Semite If... Are you an anti-Semite? Does this describe you? You have never warned anyone against being an anti-Semite. If so, then you may be an anti-Semite.

Yet if any of these describe you, then you are an anti-Semite:
 - When you hear of an evil deed, you note whether or not a Jew did it.
 - You have defended Martin Luther's intense hatred of Jews.
 - You think that the Jews deserve to be despised.
 - You think that the Jews are the enemy.
 - You do not love the Jews, generally speaking, as much as other ethnic peoples.

The first description above, about warning others, is increasingly indicative of one's own anti-Semitism within a culture where racism against the Jews becomes increasingly common.

Consider then the first item in the second set of diagnostics. Some Europeans are prejudiced against Europeans, some blacks oppose blacks, and many self-loathing white Americans hate white Americans, etc. So too of course it is possible for a Jewish person to hate Jews. However, unlike a Gentile, if a Jewish person systematically notes whether criminals happen to be Jewish or not, that would not make him an anti-Semite. But any of the other descriptions would.

So, if any of these descriptions indicate that you, the reader, are an anti-Semite, then you are guilty of the sin, which God hates, of racism. Also, you are an anti-Semite if you deny that the Jews have a right to self defense; if you automatically blame the Jews for each tension with Muslims and Arabs; and if you deny that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel (see Acts 17:26; etc., and The Plot). Likewise, of course, you are a racist also if you automatically blame an Arab in any conflict with a Jew.

* What's With All the Racism? While the ethnic groups of the whole world spring from intermarriages to varying degrees, generally speaking Semites are the descendents of Noah's son Shem, including Jews and Arabs. (Jews of course through the millennia have made extreme efforts to remain primarily Semitics whereas Arabs have broadly intermarried with others, especially with Hamitic peoples.) East Asians and Indians are primarily Hamitic and Europeans are of Japheth. (If you are curious about Canaan, simply Google: why was Canaan cursed, and click on the #1 ranked article, which should be ours here at kgov.com). So, even though Arabs are Semites, hatred of them is described by the general term racism, whereas anti-Semitism means specifically hatred of Jews.

Why are the Jews hated? The primary answer is: because there are Gentiles. Millions of exceptions do not change the fact that light skinned blacks hate dark skinned blacks, Sunnis hate the Shiites, the Crees hated the Inuits, the Turks hate the Kurds, the Irish hate the British, the Chinese hate the Japanese, the Republicans hate the Democrats, the NAZIs hated the Marxists (regardless of their similarities), the Hutus hate the Tutsis, the Crips hate the Bloods. This suffices to illustrate that having inherited brokenness (our tendency to sin) from Adam, human beings will opportunistically express their rebellion against God.

Of the two most wicked nations in the world, which is more wicked, Israel or America? Historically speaking, arguably, Israel was founded on Moses and America was founded on Christ. Remember that Jesus said that, "everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required..." (Luke 12:47). Though many will disagree, an argument could be made that America's founders did more to establish it on a Christian foundation than did the men who established Israel's monarchy (like Saul, Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam) found it on the law of Moses.  Regardless though, whereas Israel has rejected Moses (and therefore, Jesus, John 5:45-46), America has rejected Christ, blatantly.

* Jews Too Need Jesus: When Jesus said that "salvation is of the Jews," consider the implications. God loves the nations of the world, just as He loved the Assyrians, one of the most brutally wicked murderous nations in history. When Jonah reported God's prophecy (only five words in the original Hebrew), that in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed, the hesitant prophet became angry when God did not pour out His wrath on their capital city. So God rebuked Jonah for caring more that the prophecy did not come to pass (Jonah 3:10) than he cared about the 120,000 people who were not killed but were spared (Jonah 4:11).

Eventually God will permit open rebellion no longer and indeed He will judge the living and the dead. While there is life though, He is a "God of hope" (Romans 15:13), preferring mercy to wrath.

So these quotes do not come from typical English language translations of the Bible, but appropriately, from specifically Jewish translations into English: from the Jewish New Testament and from the Old Testament Tanakh.

"...Do you know who will accuse you? Moshe [Moses], the very one you have counted on! For if you really believed Moshe, you would believe Me; because it was about Me that he wrote. But if you don't believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" Jewish New Testament John 5:45-46

Brothers, my heart's deepest desire and my prayer to God for Israel is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of God's way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God's way of making people righteous. For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts... . there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - Adonai is the same for everyone... So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah. JNT Romans 10:1-4, 12, 17
We are Jews by birth... we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of the Messiah's trusting faithfulness..." JNT Galatians 3:15-16

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet from among your own people, like myself; him you shall heed.... Tanakh Torah Deuteronomy 18:15

And God himself continued:

"I will raise up a prophet for them from among their own people, like yourself: I will put My words in his mouth and he will speak to them all that I command him; and if anybody fails to heed the words he speaks in My name, I myself will call him to account. Tanakh Torah Deuteronomy 18:18-19

Bob Enyart's life's work: The Plot-Pastor Bob Enyart
KGOV.com &
TheologyOnline.com
1-800-8Enyart
Bob@KGOV.com

* Related Writings and Broadcasts from Pastor Bob:
Luther was an Anti-Semite (this page)
On the Jews who Reject Christ (critical of many televangelists)
- Dr. Michael Brown on BEL on Our Hands are Stained
You Might Be An Anti-Semite If... (quiz now incorporated above)
On Replacement Theology (An excerpt from The Plot. and Bob's Facebook thread with Pastor Chuck Baldwin who denies being an anti-Semite.)

* History of Christian Anti-Semitism: See The Plot for references.

Racism within the Body

The degree and prevalence of hatred toward Jews by Christians will shock many readers. Of true Christians, Martin Luther ranks among the most vicious against them... Luther heard lies about the Jews which he chose to believe, and he spread those lies further, including that they were killing Christian children and poisoning Gentile drinking wells.

Many other Christian leaders despised the Jews. Ignatius, bishop of Syrian Antioch, martyred about 110 AD in Rome, wrote:

If any one celebrates the Passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles.

"Have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd," proscribed Eusebius (263-339 AD), the famous and well-received church historian when he warned men against the Jews who "are swayed by every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them" and are "deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul." His hair-triggered passion arose over the minor matter of rejecting the date on which the Jews celebrated the Passover in favor of an alternative date selected for remembrance of the crucifixion by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Eusebius then urged Christians to "have nothing in common with that nation of parricides who slew their Lord" blaming the sons for the sins of the father against strong biblical mandate (Deut. 24:16; 2 Ki. 14:6; 2 Chr. 25:4; Ezek. 18:2-3, 20). Christians who tragically blame the Jews for Germany's crimes echo Chapter XVII of The Oration⎯In Praise Of The Emperor Constantine on the 30th anniversary of his reign, where Eusebius blames the Jews for the crimes against them of the Roman Empire. He usurps scriptural blessings for the Church but leaves the curses for the Jews.

John Chrysostom (347-Sept. 14, 407 AD), early Church Father and archbishop of Constantinople, said outright, "I hate the Jews." Earlier, in the first of eight sermons against the Jews in 387 AD, Chrysostom had said "the synagogue is a dwelling of demons" and asked, "when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left?" Chrysostom adds that in the synagogue, "the slayers of Christ gather together... Does not greater harm come from this place since the Jews themselves are demons?" In his sixth sermon, Chrysostom too blamed the Jews generally for the crimes committed against them and asked, "Is it not obvious that he [God] hated you and turned his back on you once and for all?... Is it not because God has abandoned you?" For many centuries, such Bible teaching has ignored God's clear promises to one day return to the nation of Israel. Chrysostom stated of the "temple" that "you give it a name more worthy than it deserves if you call it a brothel, a stronghold of sin, a lodging-place for demons, a fortress of the devil..."

Enabling such racism, replacement theology taught that the Jews had become superfluous to God's plans. Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) spread replacement theology, teaching that Gentiles had completely replaced Jews in God's design. As he wrote to the Roman Senate, "Gentiles... are the true Israelitic race." Justin Martyr made the indefensible statement that "the Christians from among the Gentiles are... more true than those from among the Jews" and that, as did the Romans, the Jews also "kill and punish us [Christians] whenever they have the power."

An unknown author penned the anti-Jewish Letter of Barnabas early in the 2nd-century to teach Christians how to interpret the Old Testament. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 AD) quoted from Barnabas and the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus included the apocryphal book in its New Testament. The text promotes replacement theology teaching that Christians and specifically not Jews, are heirs of Abraham's covenant stating "let us see if this people is the heir, or... if the covenant belongs to us or to them." (Clement, by the way, unwittingly helped to set Christians on a collision path with Jews by systematically merging Greek philosophy into Christianity, as did many after him including Origen and Augustine. Hellenistic and Jewish thought do not readily mix, so this forced scholastic integration made the Church even more hostile to Jews than it otherwise may have been.)

Tertullian (c. 160-220 AD), Christian theologian of controversial yet widespread influence, said that "all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him" blaming the entire Jewish race for the crucifixion. "Albeit Israel wash daily all his limbs over, yet is he never clean," Tertullian wrote, "His hands, at all events, are ever unclean, eternally dyed with the blood of the prophets, and of the Lord Himself; on that account, as being hereditary culprits from their privity to their fathers' crimes..."

Origen (185-253 AD), established allegory as a primary interpretation method enabling the defense of virtually any false teaching, including replacement theology. In his commentary on Song of Solomon (considered a masterpiece by Jerome), Origen made the Body of Christ into the Bride of Christ, supplanting Israel.

Constantine (c. 287-337 AD), Christian leader and the first Christian Roman emperor, fostered anti- Semitic policies and helped outlaw conversion to Judaism. "You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves," said Constantine, "and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews."

Jerome (c. 347-420 AD) translated the Latin Vulgate, the official church Bible, and taught that the Jews were incapable of understanding Scripture. He wrote, "If it is expedient to hate any men and to loathe any race I have a strange dislike for those of the circumcision."

Augustine (354-430 AD) believed that the Jews were destined to wander the earth as a sign of the Christian victory over national Israel. He wrote, "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and," Augustine repeats a familiar theme, "forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus." Augustine had lived and taught in Rome, and then Milan, for more then a decade; yet must have forgotten that, while at the behest of the Jewish high priest, the Romans themselves sentenced and executed Christ, making all the world, both Jew and Gentile, responsible for the act, as they had already been, for the need. Further:

St. Augustine, for example, could already cite a pagan, the Roman philosopher Seneca (d. 65), as his authority for the fact that the Jews were "an arch-criminal race" (sceleratissima gens).

The crusades of the church also persecuted Jews. While designed to free Palestine from the rule of Muslims, the first crusade also targeted European Jews. Crusaders for the next few hundred years killed many thousands of Jews. From then till the twentieth century, Christians regularly persecuted Jews, individually and officially. The church helped the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 and France in 1394. Then, while the voyage of Columbus commenced, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled Jews from Spain.

...

This brings us back to Martin Luther advocating Jewish genocide:

So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.

Why the Hatred?

Sin bears fruit of misdirected hatred. Also, false teaching may incline toward racism individuals who otherwise would never fall into that particular wickedness. No wonder that teachers "receive a stricter judgment" (James 3:1). Consider the countless believers who, remiss in their own study of the Word, learned about the Jews from Martin Luther. The reformer alleged that Israel was no longer, and could never again be, God's "own people" since the Lord would never handle His "own people" as cruelly as He has treated the Jews:

For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terribly, so unmercifully, and in addition keep silent, comforting them neither with words nor with deeds, and fixing no time limit and no end to it.

Luther embraced and promoted replacement theology, that God is utterly finished with national Israel, that He has utterly rejected Her, that He will never return to her. Replacement theologians teach that God grafted in the Body of Christ eternally replacing Israel. This troublesome teaching misses the overview of the Bible and ignores specific important passages concerning Israel. As a result, Bible difficulty blends into frustration, and for some into anger, and for some of them, into hatred. If only such men would learn that God still loves the Jews; that still "they are beloved for the sake of the fathers" (Rom. 11:28); that "God is able to graft them in again" (Rom. 11:23); and that He plans to refine them in the fire of the Great Tribulation (Jer. 30:7; Joel 2:27-32; Rev. 7:4-8).

Seven chapters of the Bible most explain its plot: Jeremiah18; Luke13; Acts15; Romans11; Galatians 2; Ephesians 3; and First Timothy 1. Of these, the first and last three focus their attention on the central chapter, which most clearly explains the plot. Contrast replacement theology with the view of Israel in Romans 11... (continues in The Plot)