-By Pastor Bob Enyart
Denver Bible Church
Talk Host, KGOV.com
* 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 book, On the Jews and their Lies (if you click over to there and appreciate the review, please Rate It accordingly), appears over at Google Books. From that review, and from my book The Plot, consider:
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
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) eventually gave public expression to his vile 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)
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:
"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'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.
* 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 as much as all 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. Just as 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