Silly little aside…

[This will be of little interest to most folks, but it’s interesting to me, mainly because of the historical subliteracy it revealed in the article that spurred these brief thoughts.]

I read in passing a silly little aside about MArtin Luther’s anti-semitism being a “deal breaker” in someone’s church-shopping. Stop here, if this bores you.


The accusation of anti-semitism against Martin Luther is a well-known fallacy. He was no more (or less) virulent in his prosecution of whatever he viewed as false teachings against the Jews than he was against, say, Erasmus, who sought to reform the Roman Catholic church in much the same ways as Luther, but whom Luther viciously condemned for his lack of purity of conviction (because Erasmus didn’t break with the church of Rome).

Indeed, one would better acknowledge Luthers all-around curmudgeonry and inflexibility toward ANY view or behavior he found to be at odds with his reading of scripture (except in those rather rare *cough* exceptions he made for purely political purposes).

Like many otherwise great men, Luther was a rotten S.O.B. in many ways. But anti-semitism in the modern sense wasn’t one of his faults, despite easy quotations from his lil book, “On the Jews and their lies.” The title ought to give you a clue (reinforcing what I’ve already said): as in almost all of Luther’s incendiary words were directed at people he felt were telling lies, decieving folks, leading people astray. It was the motivation behind his famous theses tacked to the Wittenburg door; it was the motivation behind his long diatribes against Erasmus and anyone else he felt departed from a rather narrow way.

Including the Jews as a group of people he viewed as heretical in biblical teaching.

But even then, he never advocated extirpating the Jews, in the manner of the later Nazis or contemporary (to both Luther and today) Muslims.

Luther had, as do most of us, a big ole blind spot to his own hypocrisy, was a firebrand, a curmudgeon and an irascible, irritating man who found fault in anyone whom he saw as opposing his view of scripture. But to say that his intolerance, which extended far and wide, to many people of many classes, all for the dame fundamental cause, is anti-semitism is to be foolishly under-informed or foolishly narrow and shallow in viewpoint, or both.

Which is why I rarely read the blogger I’ll not link here.


N.B. It’s been a few decades since I read any of Luther’s mad (and often—usually—excessively vicious) little rants against anyone and everyone with whom he differed, but a few decades is just enough time for me to perhaps have gained a little perspective. I often feel much the same today as he did then: railing against the fall of night. *LOL*

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