The Luther I Love is the Luther I am Shamed Of

 LutherIt is Saturday 6th of July 1415. Today, the goose is going to be cooked. John Hus. He is the follower of John Wycliffe and has been advancing his heretical ideas. The Church is at its flimsiest time. The previous years saw the Great Schism of the papacy. It was the years that saw two popes claiming to be the true Vicar of Christ. Urban reigning from Rome and Clement from Avignon.

The Council of Pisa (1409), which was set to resolve this matter, added more problems. They denounced both popes and appointed yet another, Alexander V. Urban and Clement did not recognised Pisa’s authority, thus did not let go of the chair of St. Peter. Alexander V, thus, joined the two. Now, we did not only have two but three popes at the same time. This was the great wall of shame in our Catholic Church history.

Reformers were no better. They were not saints neither. They had greater walls of shame. A century after the goose was cooked, burned at the stalk, a swan nailed 95 Theses of Contention at church of Wittenberg. Using the Swan’s own words:

“St. John Huss prophesied of me [Martin Luther] when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia, “They will roast a goose now (for ‘Huss’ means ‘a goose’), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will endure.” And that is the way it will be, if God wills.”(LW 34.104)

Luther’s Wall of Shame: His Odium Theologicum Against Jews

Martin Luther sang. His songs changed the course of Western civilization. But he too had a great, if not the greatest, wall of shame. Luther abhorred Jews. His intensive hatred poured in full wrath towards Jews at his late stage of life is unjustifiable. We are justified in condemning his theological anti-semitism. His odium theologicum towards Judaism clearly marks the worst and the darkest phase of Luther’s life. Here he failed miserably.

What happened to the Luther who published in 1523 That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, a treatise that defended the Jews against theological anti-semitism? What happened to the Luther who advised that:

“I would request and advise that one deal gently with them and instruct them from Scripture; then some of them may come along. Instead of this we are trying only to drive them by force, slandering them, accusing them of having Christian blood if they don’t stink, and I know not what other foolishness. So long as we thus treat them like dogs, how can we expect to work any good among them? Again, when we forbid them to labor and do business and have any human fellowship with us, thereby forcing them into usury, how is that supposed to do them any good?”(LW 45.229)

What happened to the Luther who taught that Jews are blood relatives of Christ while we Gentiles are “aliens and in-laws”(LW 45.201)? Why did he not practice what he preached, when he concluded that:

We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, that they may have occasion and opportunity to associate with us, hear our Christian teaching, and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either.(LW 45.229)

O how I wished Luther did not become the total opposite of what he earlier believed about Jews. In his 1543’s treatise, On The Jews And Their Lies, Luther is at his worst. It is a book I wished Luther had died before he could write it. It is his greatest wall of shame. This work left his very contemporary reformers such as Melanchthon and Osiander not only disappointed but also saddened.

In this book Luther placed himself among those who intensively hated and opposed Jews. He called for burning of their synagogues, demolishing of their homes, confiscation of their prayer books and deportation. Fortunate his proposal’s found no favor among authorities. No synagogues were burned, no house demolished. But the seed was planted. This work was unfortunately reprinted and put into action. Action was applied to words. Thousands of Jews did not only lose their synagogues, and houses but their very own lives. If Nietzsche’s The Will To Power and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, among others, were used to provide philosophical justification for malicious treatment of Jews in Germany, Luther’s On The Jews And Their Lies sadly secured theological justification.

How can I love such a man? How can I? I love him because I am no better than him. I am not a saint yet I am loved. I have my own great wall of shame yet I am accepted. My sins are so heavy that I cannot bear, yet there is One in my place He bears. If I were to be loved because I was lovable, none would ever loved me. Not even God.

I love Luther not because of what he is in himself, but what he is in Christ. Like me, Luther has no righteousness of his own. None. He is a beggar, just like me, sitting at the table of Christ Jesus. I love Luther because he sang to me that Christ alone our shame He bore. Christ alone our sin He carried. I love Luther because he showed us that it is not our righteousness that saves. For we have none. What saves is Christ’s righteousness in us. I am a sinner. In Christ, I am a saint. This sainthood is not ours but Christ Jesus’ in us. This was the truth Luther sang. This is why the Luther I am ashamed of is the Luther I love.

52 thoughts on “The Luther I Love is the Luther I am Shamed Of

  1. What kind of attitude had Luther to the anabaptists?
    Did Balthasar Hubmaier change his thinking about the jews after reading the Bible in original languages?

    Anyway, Luthers german Bible, printed at Gutenbergs new machine, created a huge revival. Ordinary people could study the WORD for the first time, in their own language.

    Luthers german translation is just as good as the famous King James Version.

  2. It is shocking when we find the ‘clay feet’ of those we hold in high esteem. You do right to remember that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This does not make me think to highly of myself, but it also does not make me think too lowly. I have been redeemed, after all! I imagine that each of us will some day come to stand before the Throne of Grace and realize how deceived we were on one point or another. Meanwhile, it is good not to put our hope in trust in “princes” of this world.

    • Very true Deanne. That is what I meant by I am a sinner yet a saint. I do think low of myself without Christ. I know my sins, and I would be a liar to pretend they were, and are, not great in qualities and quantities. Those outside do not know me. They judge me according to their standard and in their eyes I shine. I left Christianity because I could not reconcile my moral lifestyle with a Holy God. I thought if God did not exist then I have none to answer for what I have done and was doing. From that I began a journey to dethrone God and become my own god, deciding what is good and evil as I so desired. Yes, I am still here and there trying to dethrone a God, but now I know Christ and in Him I am a saint. In Him I think highly of myself. Who am I, a sinner, that a righteous and holy God took upon flesh and stand in my place that I can be a saint?

  3. Everything I read about it says he changed his attitude towards Jews after he failed at converting them to Christianity. Just like your previous post Prayson I’m afraid I have not changed my mind. I just can’t align myself to him, or attempt to justify what the man did like you do, no matter how much good he did.

    Was he really in Christ? Did he become more Christ-like in his walk on this Earth? It doesn’t seem so to me. When a man does a lot of good, then something very bad I wonder if Christ was really in his heart. I don’t know the mans heart but I do know he, like us all, will stand in Judgement one day.

    The New Testament tells us we were created to become like Christ. Did Luther become like Christ in body and spirit? In Philippians 2:1-5 we are told, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ”

    When we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour we are born-again. We become new and start the process of Sanctification, or of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly (Christ-like) character and life in the person who has already been justified.

    Peace be onto you all.

    “How can I love such a man? How can I? I love him because I am no better than him.”

    Nonsense. As far as I know you’ve never rejoiced in the burning alive of another human being, nor have you called for the hunting down and murder of innocent men, women, children and babies simply because they held different beliefs to you.

    Completely agree with above commenter. I can’t stand Martin Luther because in all of Hitler’s anti-Jewish propaganda came from Luther…Luther basically caused Kristallnacht, as everything he calls for in “On the Jews And their Lives” happened. :/ I’m studied the Holocaust closely for quite some time and can’t stand Luther…
    On another note, have you heard of Protestant pastor Andre Trocme? During the Holocaust, he and other villages in Le Chambon rescued 5000 Jews. He was a great man…On why he did it, he replied “We knew only men.”

  5. Prayson, a good follow-up to this post might be to consider what happened in Luther’s life to change his feelings and thoughts about the Jewish people. Thank you.

    • He couldn’t convert them to his religion. One blind man trying to lead another blind man, with no evidence and no reason.

      And when this lack of evidence and lack of reason got nowhere, he got angry and called for them to be killed.

      • Ahhh! That would also explain his attitude toward the English, the Irish, the French, Roman Catholics, etc.


        Anyone familiar with German history has at least a partial inkling. And anyone who has actually read Luther knows that above almost anything else, the man had reason and logic.

  6. “How can I love such a man? How can I? I love him because I am no better than him.”

    Nonsense. As far as I know you’ve never rejoiced in the burning alive of another human being, nor have you called for the hunting down and murder of innocent men, women, children and babies simply because they held different beliefs to you.

    • Christians should hold to Prayson’s understanding. It is not putting oneself down, but instead accepting the truth of the human condition.

      We tend to compare ourselves to others to make us feel better about our own short comings, but this never makes our shortcomings shorter. They still fall way short of perfection. Then, even when we are better in areas than others we still fall short there as well. Just perhaps, not as short.

      We must see sin for what sin is, and Prayson does, as did I might add Luther.

      The Christian Truth about humanity is, if I was the only person alive, Christ would have had to die on the cross to satisfy the penalty for my sin, or I myself would have been lost forever!

      The truth of Christianity to Me and Prayson is, The Creator loves us so that He willingly suffered for us, to be with us! All of us, and I’m sure it breaks His heart knowing some of His creation never will accept His loving act for our disobedience!

      • I’m sure Prayson can speak for himself.

        But to your comment. I find your worldview entirely repulsive. Creating an imaginary disease so frocked bigots can sell an imaginary cure to the gullible and hopeless is appalling to human sensibilities. It is offensive as it serves no larger purpose than to simply give you an excuse to justify the unjustifiable, and tolerate the intolerable.

        This, however, does not distract from the regressive nature of this post, and the error Prayson has made here. As I said, Prayson has never, to my knowledge, rejoiced in the burning alive of another human being, nor has he called for innocent human beings (men, women, children and babies) to be hunted and murdered for no other reason than they hold differing beliefs.

        Have you ever called for the murder of innocent men, women, children and babies? Is such an order ever justified? If you answer No, then we must conclude Luther was either clinically insane, or a psychotic misfit; a sick, demented human being whom we should be appalled at, and never, under any circumstances, revered, or worse, adored.

        • I’m sure Prayson can, and basically I don’t care if you think my world view is repulsive.

          What Disease do you speak of……. do you mean deity, or are you talking about sin.

          Well what is it you base your world view on? How does it help mankind? What keeps you from trouncing on other’s rights? What do you justify for yourself, and who are you intolerant too? People that hold to my world view, is an answer to that.

          When Christian act wrongly I will not condone such actions, and boy have they in the past, and currently, and in the future it’ll happen too. But there it is…… the truth of sin! All do it and continue to do it, because that is who we have become. The only hope is to be saved from it! You call us hypocrites and I say


          ………but that’s only because we recognize our sinfulness as humans and that we need saved from it.

          I suppose you hold no view on wrongdoing as wrong and needing saved from, so thus you aren’t a hypocrite. Where does your obligation to the other human animals come from?

          Praise God, He has embedded into each of us His moral code, whether you accept it or not. Because that’s where it came from Brother!

          And Praise God, “The Creator” of You ….He has done the saving work, for me, and for you. He hopes you come to terms with His work before He has to come to terms with yours!

          I hope you come to terms with it also, because actually we care for those and love those who are blinded by their pride in their own humanity.

          God Bless, Friend.

          • If you can’t figure out how to act correctly by yourself, if you can’t independently arrive at a notion of right and wrong using your own evolved faculties, then you are truly lost.

          • And do you figure that out on your own, or are you taught it, and just where did they learn it? Why do we reason as opposed to other animals? Why are we so different when we get right down to it? It’s because there is more to us and our being tethered to moral decision making is evidence of God!

            No other animal does that………why?

          • Also John,

            In reading some of your posts and many comments, I noticed you don’t like Christians because they are so unlike their Christ. So?

            They aren’t like their Christ because they are human…..just like you, unable to be the perfect moral agents, …..and then you pin them hypocrites….. because of their faith in Christ, the only perfect moral agent of all time! They have faith in Him to save them from their moral failures.

            Which He promises to do.

            Oh they should try….Yes, but even good intentions are met with failure, because even good intentions can be biased by human pride, which no one will ever be cured of till our Christ comes again!

            Which He promises to do.

            In other places, I also notice you don’t like to take Christ’s teaching in context. When is this ever a good practice. Only if you wish to win arguments for winning’s sake, as opposed to truth. Or is truth just relative?

            Anyway arguing with you seems pointless, unless you have an open mind to the possibility of God. However, that does not seem the case, as you show a propensity to argue in an unethical closed minded, using Christ’s word and the Bible out of context, kinda way.

          • Oh you can argue for your fantasy here if you like. Just know you’ve initiated it, so please don’t whine later when your sensibilities are hurt. Not sure how much good it’ll do as you’re not even aware of the wealth of research into clearly mapped moral behaviours exhibited in primates, including an advanced, complex sense of fair play. But I guess you don’t even believe we’re evolved apes, do you, rather fallen angels. But let me ask you: name a single thing Jesus allegedly said or did which was new or even marginally useful?

            Just one thing.

          • Let’s say…. Jesus Created the Cosmos….that’s a pretty good start!

            As to animals reasoning and being moralistic, The stuff I’ve read on that is far from conclusive. You seem pretty sure about it though! Just grasping at anything to justify your positions? Evolution is a Scientific theory……but nonetheless a theory.

            Like I said it’s pointless to argue with you a Creator, since you don’t have an open mind to even the possibility, so it’s never been my intention to do so. Since I don’t wish to force Him on you I won’t. You seemed to think I was and I’m sorry for violating your sensibilities.

          • Oh dear, you don’t seem to understand what the word “Theory” means in science. Are you aware of the “Theory” of Gravity?

            So, Jesus created the cosmos, huh? I see….

            Perhaps, if you’d like to try again, you could stick to what was allegedly said and done by the character?

            So, again, please name a single thing Jesus (allegedly) said which was truly new, something that hadn’t been said before, something truly unique.

          • For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
            —Matthew 16:24-25

            Oh I know what a scientific Theory is. And in the case of gravity we can see it work out. But Evolution is not being acted out in front of us the same way. And though it’s a theory there are holes, that even Darwin struggled with.

          • Are you seriously suggesting no other sage in human history promised salvation? Try looking to Zoroaster for a far older promise.

            Want to try again?

          • That saying by Christ has done me and a whole bunch of Christians a lot of good, …..for you…..not so much, but maybe it could, if you’d just get over this self pride you have in yourself.

            Often Atheists exclaim Christians are arrogant, but then you respond to the humility that Prayson and I show, with revulsion. I believe unfortunately you are the arrogant one, believing in unprovable theories and your very finite intellect to be enough!

          • Zoroaster, care to post His attested to statement that fits those?

            You asked for original statements……show me Zoroester’s……

            Not that it matters, did he rise from the grave? Christ did that…..hmm, come to think of it, that’s a pretty big thing He did that no one else did.

          • Knock yourself out:


            And here are just some of the non-Christian Resurrection claims. Hardly anything new or original here, I’m afraid:


            Seriously, you’re not doing too well here. Can’t you name a single original thing Jesus said or did? You said he was the Creator of the Universe, yet he didn’t say anything original… Rather odd, wouldn’t you say?

          • God bless you, John. I am aware of all this nonsense. Of course none accepted as Christ’s by modern historians as historically attestable. But this will only go in circles and allow you to be a ridicule – out person.

            I believe, I can say nothing to sway you of truth. So as my Creator/Savior said,

            “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” – Matthew 7:6

            Did the big Z say that. God bless, I’ll pray for your soul.

          • Funny you should mention dogs; they’re considered divine in Zoroastrianism and should be afforded all assistance. The entire Fargard 13 is, in fact, dedicated to dogs. Clearly, Zoroaster was a good man.

            So, I’m to take you bowing out as not being about to name a single original thing Jesus, The Creator of the Universe, said. You really couldn’t think of one thing, huh?

            That’s tremendously interesting, isn’t it…

          • I gave you some, but you dusted it off…… I asked you to provide the same thing from big Z and you came up with nothing.

            He attested to truth, it doesn’t really matter if it was original. I also provided the fact that He created the universe, but you reject that….

            SO no I’m not bowing out up to not being able to provide a single thing.

            I’m bowing out because I want to eat a cow, and you are just here to ridicule.

            It’s funny that atheists are some of the meanest, sarcastic, intolerable people I have ever observed.

            You don’t know the Bible as you should, because you don’t possess the assistance of The Holy Spirit….. SO you boast arrogantly about things you can’t possibly understand.

            Your comment has no effect on me. I choose to share faith with folks to be considered by them with serious contemplation, but upon rejection I will move on ‘shaking the dust from my sandals.’

            Not ‘wasting pearls of wisdom on swine.’

            You my friend are deceived, and uninterested in Truth.

          • You offered up nothing except a whimsical promise of salvation; the same promise, in one guise or another, made by every sage from Zoroaster to Rael, from the Mithraists to the Moonies. If you think that idea is original to Jesus then you are truly delusional.

            Afraid to tell you, but EVERY sage also attests to truth. It’s sort of what distinguishes them.

            Now, don’t you find it frightfully troubling that you can’t identify a single original or genuinely new thought which can be attributed to this character that you say Created the Cosmos? One would think, naturally, that such a character could fill books with authentically and consistently exclusive information… things no one knew before; things so astonishing, so incomprehensible and alien to our species that no doubt could possibly be left about his rather ambitious claims. But no. What we have is a character saying the same old things voiced by numerous mystics, playwrights and even philosophers before; men and women who also often said it much, much better. I suggest you meditate on this revelation.

            “By Thy perfect Intelligence, O Mazda
            Thou didst first create us having bodies and spiritual consciences,
            And by Thy Thought gave our selves the power of thought, word, and deed.
            Thus leaving us free to choose our faith at our own will.”
            (Ahunuvaiti Gatha; Yasna 31, 11)

          • Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

            Another wonderfully helpful statement of Christ, that helps us humble ourselves from the pride of the very limited knowledge any one human can gain in this lifetime, and trust in our Creator to save us.

            Again this could help you too if you’d only become like a child again.

            But you trust in yourself instead. So no it won’t help you, but we can always hope, you’ll find wisdom!

            And what is the beginning of wisdom, the fear of God!

            Good luck in finding wisdom.

          • Now, “helpful” isn’t “new,” is it. I’m glad you find some comfort in the words, good for you, but that’s not what i’m asking. Surely you can name a single thing Jesus said which was truly new, something unique that no one had said before…

          • > Not that it matters, did he rise from the grave? Christ did that…..hmm, come to think of it, that’s a pretty big thing He did that no one else did.


            This is funny given that your own bible describes this happening to LOTS of people.

            Matthew 27:52 – “and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”

            2 Kings 13:21 – “When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet”

            If you don’t care about the “grave” part specifically, then there’s lots more matches:

            I Ki 17:17-24 – He laid himself over the boy’s body three times and then prayed that God would allow the boy’s soul to come back into him. The boy was raised from the dead.

            II Ki 4:20-37 – When Elisha arrived he prayed, he laid himself over the boy’s body, and he paced back and forth in the house. The boy came back to life

            Lk 7:11-16, Acts 20:7-12, Acts 9:36-41, and so on. There’s too many to write out here.

          • “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matt 7:6

          • Imaginary problems; sin is an offense against god, an imaginary being.
            So as John has said, an imaginary problem invented to serve men who claim to talk for and on behalf of an imaginary being.
            There is nothing redemptive about Christianity that had not been said earlier and more eloquently by men who didn’t claim divine inspiration.

  7. I hate how Christianity has this effect on people that makes them think so lowly of themselves. It sounds like a person in an abusive relationship.

    “I’m not better than someone calling for the death of Jews”.
    “I am nothing”
    “I’m a beggar”
    “I have no righteousness”

    Stop putting yourself down so much.

    I attack you every week, yet I see far more worth in you than you apparently see in yourself.
    You are not as weak and terrible as you make out. You are not as worthless as you think you are. You are not as terrible as you think you are.

    You are better than Luther. Don’t let your religion take that away from you.

    • It is a person in an abusive relationship. The travesty is the abuser is an invisible man. It is abuse inflicted on oneself.

    • The point is He isn’t better, you aren’t better, I’m not better, we all fall short and unless we accept this, there is no hope in Christ.

      My previous reply explains this. Pride in our own abilities or perceived moral character blinds us to the truth.

      • > you aren’t better

        Yes, I am better. I’ve never called for the death of everyone. I’ve never called for people to burn down synagogues. I’ve never written a book calling on people to attack other people.

        This makes me a better person than Luther.

        And presumably you are a better person too. Stop selling yourself so short.

        > Pride in our own abilities or perceived moral character blinds us to the truth.

        If we spent time and effort building up those abilities and moral character, then we SHOULD we proud of them. We should be proud of becoming better people. Not wallow in self-hatred.

        • You don’t 1.) care, or 2.) understand about sin……. SO you really can’t intelligently comment on a Christian view of this…..

          But as I said to John

          English Standard Version
          “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matt 7:6

          • What makes you think i wasn’t raised Catholic? Rather presumptuous of you, don’t you think? If you need to know, Carmelite nuns, then Augustinian priests. I probably know the bible better than you, so careful with those broad brushstrokes… you might hurt yourself.

      • He isn’t better,

        The ‘He’ in question, of course is based on an erroneous assumption that the biblical character, the miracle working , water walking, wine-making, multitude feeding conceived of a virgin god-man Yeshua of Nazareth was a real historical person. And of course there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of such a character ever having existed.
        Maybe there was an itinerant eschatological prophet somewhere in 1st century Palestine but this individual was not the narrative construct described in the go

        • gospels.

          The doctrine you are espousing came about largely as a result of the religio-politicizing of Christianity by Constantine and later cemented into law by Theodosius.
          I strongly suggest you set aside faith for a short while and do some serious research, and include what many the current crop of religious/church leaders of two major sects, Catholic and Anglican actually believe concerning the doctrine of the lead character of your religion.
          You might be quite surprised!
          Meantime, you are, of course, perfectly entitled to believe whatsoever you like. This is proper.This is freedom of choice. And the most important aspect of freedom is freedom to accept the consequences.
          I would only ask that you do not proselytize this stuff to children who have little defense and keep it to yourself or within your group of fellow believers.

          Best of luck

      • Oh boy, am better and I know it. My desire is to have a world where we don’t kill each other because they believe differently from us or are of a different skin colour. That every human person deserves to be treated with dignity.

        And pride, there is nothing wrong with it. If I can jump 4 feet, I should be proud of my abilities and the same is true of my moral character.

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