Question: Was Martin Luther anti-Semitic?
Martin Luther, a former German Catholic monk and the father of Protestant Reformation, had made an indelible impression on Christianity and the world of faith. His revolutionary [at the time] views on papal authority, scripture, grace and salvation were a stark departure from the Catholicism of his day. His ideas have influenced millions of Protestants of all denominations for generations and continue to do so. For all the good heâ€™s considered to impart, Luther, however, had a very dark side to him, a horrible legacy that is often swept under the rug and very rarely discussed.
Although Luther did not invent anti-Jewishness, he promoted it to a level never before seen in Europe. Luther bore the influence of his upbringing and from anti-Jewish theologians such as Lyra, Burgensis, (and John Chrysostom, before them). But Luther’s 1543 book, “On the Jews and their lies” took Jewish hatred to a new level when he proposed to set fire to their synagogues and schools, to take away their homes, forbade them to pray or teach, or even to utter God’s name. Luther wanted to “be rid of them” and requested that the government and ministers deal with the problem. He requested pastors and preachers to follow his example of issuing warnings against the Jews. He goes so far as to claim that “We are at fault in not slaying them” for avenging the death of Jesus Christ. Hitler’s Nazi government in the 1930s and 40s fit Luther’s desires to a tee.
So vehemently did Luther speak against the Jews, and the fact that Luther represented an honorable and admired Christian to Protestants, that his written words carried the “memetic” seeds of anti-Jewishness up until the 20th century and into the Third Reich. Luther’s Jewish eliminationist rhetoric virtually matches the beliefs held by Hitler and much of the German populace in the 1930s.
Converting Jews to Christianity: When his efforts at conversion failed, he grew increasingly bitter toward them. In 1543, his most egregiously anti-Semitic book was published, On the Jews and Their Lies, in which he makes outlandish statements regarding the Jews, calling them “a base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.â€
What shall we do with…the Jews?… I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings… are to be taken from them. I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach on pain of loss of life and limb. …set fire to their synagogues or schools and bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. …their homes also should be razed and destroyed.
Martin Luther the reformer, the Anti-Semite father of Christian Protestantism. The “Final Solution” proposed by the Nazis against the Jews was firmly rooted in nearly 2,000 years of Church anti-Semitism.
How can some one who says he loves the God of the Bible hate Jews?