Today was Reformation Day, which commemorates Martin Luther’s act of writing his 95 theses and nailing them to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. There were many things that Martin Luther took issue with the Roman Catholic Church, and it was this single moment in history that is celebrated as the start of the Reformation of the Christian Church. Martin Luther is celebrated in virtually all mainline Protestant faiths throughout the globe, because among other things, he made the point that it was faith, and not just works, that get a person to heaven.
However, many people do not know the darker side of Martin Luther. Specifically, Martin Luther found the Jews extremely abhorrent. Before I go on, I will enumerate in his own words what he thought should be done with the Jews.
“First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …”
“Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”
“Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.”
“Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb …”
“Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside …”
“Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them …”
“Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow … But if we are afraid that they might harm us or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., … then let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., … then eject them forever from the country …”
In reading the many articles, Tweets, and other things on the internet on this subject, very few, if any, made even a passing reference to this well documented history of Luther’s hatred for the Jews. Instead, I saw stories and posts lifting up the name of Martin Luther, and how great of a man of G-d he was. However, when you read his own words, how can any believer expect to be taken seriously, given his antisemitic history? Luther may have believed in G-d, and been a student of the Bible, but clearly from his own hate speech, did not take what he studied to heart.
Consider the fact that Luther is pretty much responsible for kindling the fires of antisemitism in Europe that would carry on from the early 1500s, all the way up to the start of WW2. This time period, of course, was a horrible period of persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi’s. Take note of some of the things he states should be done to the Jews, and then look what the Nazi’s did to them. Looks like the instruction book was written for them about 400 plus years ahead of time.
Notice that “common sense” to Luther was to take the lead of Spain and kick the Jews out altogether. Let us remember, that just a few short years before, in 1492, the Edict of Expulsion was decreed in Spain that not only kicked the Jews out of a land that they had lived in for hundreds of years, but took all their wealth and lands as well. My favorite quote of Luther’s is, “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …” Yes, nothing shows the love of Yeshua (Jesus) than burning down a synagogue or a Yeshiva. I will not get into the fact that persecution, which is cursing, G-d’s people, the descendants of Avraham, is expressly forbidden in the book of Genesis Chapter 12.
Martin Luther was a man railing against what he perceived was an unholy agenda being carried out by the Catholic Church. He felt the Word of G-d was being perverted by bishops and the Pope, and thus something had to be done about it. However, while he may have made some very sound theological points, they were not his original thoughts. He simply quoted what had already been stated in G-d’s Word, His Torah. What is a shame is that his antisemitic rhetoric overshadows much of the good that he may have helped to promote.
What I find most troubling, is that the Christian press today did not mention any of the above things that I have outlined in this article about Martin Luther. Instead, I read such headlines as “America Needs It’s Own Martin Luther”, or, “Why Donald Trump Is A Lot Like Martin Luther”, oddly enough written by a Jew, but makes only a very high altitude reference about hate speech towards Jews. Dr. Richard Land stated in an article today, over at the Christian Post, “On a more personal note, let us all express admiration and gratitude to that incomparable Christian, Martin Luther.” There is/was nothing Christian at all about advocating the persecution of Jews, anymore than there is persecution of Muslims today by some believers, simply because they are Muslims.
I will not venerate a man who, not based on speculation, but on his own written words, advocated the genocide of G-d’s people in direct contradiction to the very Word of G-d he claimed to follow. All believers in Yeshua are Jews according to the Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 2 which reads:
Romans 2:29 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
29 On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly; and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God.
The fact that the Christian press did not make mention of Martin Luther’s antisemitic past, is simply due to the fact that there has been, and continues to thrive, an undercurrent of antisemitism in the church. There is this replacement theology that is taught from pulpits that somehow, the Jews abdicated being G-d’s chosen people, and that believers now are the new Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth, and such a replacement theology directly contradicts scripture on this very subject.
Romans 11:18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you.
To be completely blunt, it is high time that Christians stop being willfully ignorant of the history of antisemitism in the church, and that it continues today by marginalizing anything to do with the Jews or our Hebraic roots of our faith. Martin Luther is celebrated loudly as starting the reformation, but people are completely silent that his antisemitic attitude helped to fuel a 400 year run-up to the most atrocious event in the course of human history, that being the Holocaust. In short, believers need to take note that while they are celebrating “Reformation Day”, that to Jews everywhere they are lauding an antisemite of the first order.