Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thoughts on Martin Luther and His Attitude towards Jews

Recently, some of the readers of my blog have expressed concern over my offer of "Luther Gold" compiled by Ray Comfort. Specifically, some of my critics have felt it was inconsistent to advocate Christianity and also feature the writings of an alleged anti-semitism such as Martin Luther.

I want to be as clear as possible that I do not support anti-semitism in any capacity. In fact, I love the Jewish people very much.

Remember,
Jesus Christ of Nazareth was himself a Jew and I worship that Jewish Carpenter from Galilee. But as Josh McDowell said, “Jesus is more than a carpenter” He is the Son of God and Lord over all and He calls all men to repent and call on His name.

Now regarding Martin Luther and his attitude towards the Jews, as I said previously I do not support anti-semitism and do not advocate or agree with what Martin Luther said about the Jews. So then, is this a contradiction? Is it an inconsistency? Not at all. I believe that Martin Luther was dead wrong about the Jews but dead right about other things.

He was a simple man and was the product of the doctrine that he believed in. In that, despite being sinful, God saved him through the grace of Jesus Christ – apart from any works or righteousness of his own.

Martin Luther courageously stood up against the corrupt medieval Roman Catholic Church and defended the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone at the risk of his own life. Martin Luther rediscovered that men and women are justified by
grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, based on the authority of the Bible alone, for God’s Glory alone. And I agree with this view of salvation with all my heart.

Was Martin Luther perfect? No, not at all. In fact, he was wrong in many things. His view of infant baptism was not biblical (I believe believers in Christ alone should be baptized), as was his view of consubstantiation (view on communion)
. But I believe that he was a true believer in Jesus Christ despite his errors.

Martin Luther’s view on the Jews is indefensible. He did say many wrong things against the Jews but does this negate everything he every taught and stood for? No.

For example, let’s say that there is a brilliant mathematician who discovers a theorem in physics that revolutionizes the scientific world but he is a drunkard who neglects his wife. Does his sin of drunkenness and abusive behavior disprove his discovery? No, of course not. They are entirely separate. Similarly, while Martin Luther said many unfortunate things about the Jews, he was correct about the essential truths of the Christian faith.

I will not sweep Martin Luther’s despicable views of the Jews under the carpet. It is as it is. It was wrong and God will deal with Him on that. None of us are perfect. We all need Jesus Christ desperately. But thanks be to God for His indescribable grace that calls all of you atheists that are reading this to repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know that many of you will not agree with me on this. But I believe that it is possible for Christians (who love the Lord) to do bad things some times. I care deeply for you all. Feel free to post comments. Now you have a spot to do this.

Lastly, I want all those who may read this to know that there is hope in Jesus Christ. If you acknowledge your sins before God and are willing to repent and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, you shall be saved and receive the gift of eternal life. Please do this today, you have no guarantee that you'll see tomorrow.

"Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth." Proverbs 27:1

"Truly these times of ignorance God has overlooked but now commands all men everywhere to repent" Acts 17:30

"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved"
Romans 10:13

"But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." John 20:31

62 comments:

zilch said...

Thanks for posting this, Trish. Many Christians are not willing to confront the antisemitic side of Martin Luther's character. I would also point out that Luther had some pretty nasty things to say about witches, and women in general.

I don't think your analogy with the mathematician is completely appropriate, however. Scientific discoveries must stand or fall on their own merits, as you say; and thus, the fact that Charles Darwin, for instance, was a racist by today's standards (although he was radically opposed to slavery) has no effect one way or another on the truth or falsity of his theories. You might want to explain this to some of your fellow Christians, who don't seem to understand this point as well as you do.

Luther, however, is not the author of any scientific theories, but is rather looked up to as a source of religious and moral standards. And saying that Jews should be run through with the sword, or that reason is the work of the Devil, are moral judgments. And while I admit a grudging admiration for Luther's criticism of the abuses of the Catholic clergy, and his plain and clear way of stating things, I don't see him as any sort of model for morality, any more than I would take your mathematician as a model of morality.

Anyway, thanks for your honesty- it is appreciated.

cheers from thawing (maybe Spring is coming after all!) Vienna, zilch

Froggie said...

Trish,

That was a well written and measured post.

But,
"For example, let’s say that there is a brilliant mathematician who discovers a theorem in physics that revolutionizes the scientific world but he is a drunkard who neglects his wife. Does his sin of drunkenness and abusive behavior disprove his discovery? No, of course not. They are entirely separate. Similarly, while Martin Luther said many unfortunate things about the Jews, he was correct about the essential truths of the Christian faith."

I totally agree.
That is why I find Ray Comfort's disparaging of the person of Darwin as an argument against Darwin's theory to be very misguided, and, in fact reprehensible.

Thanks again.

Anna Sethe said...

To me his opinion about women and disabled people seems equally disgusting.

If [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth--that is why they are there.

Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads.

And this one isn't commom belief, either. Or is it?

I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture.

Whateverman said...

Thank you for posting this, Trish

Abe said...

Here's a question that I've posed to Ray Comfort and others that I never got an answer...
If you believe that the Old Testament is the Word of God, written by God's chosen prophets and they prophesied the coming of a Messiah and Jesus didn't fulfill their prophecy, wouldn't that make the New Testament irrelevant?
Now, some would say, 'Oh, Jesus did fulfill (some of) the prophecy... He came from the House of David'.
'Well, if you believe that God was his Father with the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph was from the ancestry of David how could that be?'
It seems obvious to me that one of the main reasons anti-semitism came about so strongly amongst the Christians was that the Jews didn't accept Jesus as their Messiah, they followed the Bible (their Book) the Word of God, referred to by the Christians as the 'Old Testament'.
Yes, Jesus was a Jew and a practicing Jew (remember Christianity didn't exist) who seemly tried to persuade the Jews with his disciples, but to obviously no avail. A new faith was created from his teachings, creating him as the Son of God much like the transition of Siddartha Gautama in the East of their spiritual leader Buddha.
Christianity as a faith has been changing since it's beginning, some accepted (as Protestant) and some completely ignored by most, such as Mormon.
It seems to convert one to your beliefs, justifies and
proves your religion as the True Word... so those Prophets of God and the Jews of their faith are wrong?

BathTub said...

So his now looked down upon views are irrelevant to judging what he got right?

Diane said...

Thank you for your post. I too disagree with Martin Luther on infant baptism, consubstantiation, and antisemitism. And I agree with you that he will answer, just as we all will to God for all of our errors. Having said that, I am reminded that Luther did not have our advantages. When we consider the backdrop of Luther's existence, I stand in awe at God's mercy in calling him out of many centuries of theological darkness under the captivity of the Catholic Church and using him to begin a Reformation of Truth by which the benefits we enjoy today.

Azou said...

So you disagree with the various statements made by Living Waters that evolution should be discard due to perceived racism/sexism views of Darwin?

Let's be consistent.

Reynold said...

Trish said:


You can't die in your sins and still go to heaven, can you? Didn't the "holy spirit" even try to convict the man of the wrongness of his attitude towards the Jews? Especially since God is supposed to have known ahead of time the grief that would come about because of Luther's words?

After all, isn't it part of the holy spirit's job to that?

Instead, the man hated Jews right until the end.

Yet Ray Comfort, Trish's employer and the guy who compiled this book who honours Luther, is the same guy who keeps trying to pin anti-semitism on Darwin.

You'd think that Comfort would be more honest in who he chooses to admire.

Debunkey Monkey said...

This was very brave of you to discuss this matter, Trish. Thank you.

terriergal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
terriergal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
terriergal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Blobfish said...

For Luther to be that hateful toward Jews, Catholics, Woman and others, how can you view him as a good Christian to follow?

Fish with Trish said...

Any comments that include website links will not be published.

Michael Foord said...

Your physicist analogy is not really appropriate. Perhaps we should rephrase it as "if a man teaches on doctrines where love and forgiveness are fundamental is it relevant if he also teaches hate". It is hard to see how it is not a relevant factor.

stranger.strange.land said...

Analogies,Illustrations and Parables

I've noticed lately that illustrations are often dismissed on the grounds that each element in the illustration does not have a one to one correspondence to those in that which is being illustrated. Not long ago, Ray was taken to task for not understanding the details of how things work in criminal courts, when all he was trying to illustrate in his Comfort-style parable was the point that "Jesus paid my fine - my case is dismissed."

I don't think your analogy with the mathematician is completely appropriate, however. Scientific discoveries must stand or fall on their own merits...

Yes, and essential doctrines like Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, must stand or fall on the proper exegesis of scripture alone.

I think Trish made her point very well. Luther did say some horrible things, but he also was instrumental in recovering for the church the teaching of how sinners can be accounted "righteous" before a just and holy God.

Craig B

Whateverman said...

I took a day to think about this before posting. Discrediting Darwin for his views on racism VS discrediting Luther for his views on Judaism is analogous, but only slightly.

Darwin is known primarily for his contributions to science; to imagine that his racism (fairly common for the time and place he was raised in) somehow makes his theories less valid/authoritative is a bit silly. I like brunettes, but does this impact my drum playing? probably not.

On the other hand, Luther's contribution involves moral philosophy / theology. Would his personal morality impact this?

Most certainly.

Nonetheless, people (even Christians!) can be right about some things and wrong about others. There's no need to dismiss a person's views entirely simply because they were "wrong" about one thing or another. For that reason, I tend to evaluate what a person says before digging into their other opinions.

The thing about Luther, however, is that he claimed to be getting his moral philosophy from an inerrant Biblical standard. For a person who paints his values as morally superior to then portray himself as a hateful bigot - it most CERTAINLY calls his moral philosophy into question.

Lauding his contribution to Christian theology while ignoring the repugnant portions of it is hypocritical. Even more-so when the person praising him is seen to be accusing people of being false Christians.

stranger.strange.land said...

Reynold

Thank you for pointing that out. Yes, it would seem that if the Spirit led Luther to see from scripture the error of Rome's teaching on justification, he should have had more insight concerning his own sinful attitude and words against the Jews.

I asked my pastor his opinion this morning and he thought that later in his life Luther backed down from some of the harsh things he had said. My understanding, however, is that the Reformation had been well under way, and Luther, being bitterly disappointed that it had not been an instrument in converting the Jews, as he had earlier hoped, unleashed his invectives against them.


Froggie:

You make a good observation. From a Christian point of view, I see that the implications drawn from Darwins findings have been the occasion for many to reject God's existence, and therefore forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but I don't get why it was necessary to impugn his moral character.

Abe:

I read your post three times, and I honestly can't figure out what you are saying, my friend. Maybe it is just me. I know I can be a little slow sometimes.

Craig B

zilch said...

Craig B- you said:

I asked my pastor his opinion this morning and he thought that later in his life Luther backed down from some of the harsh things he had said.

With all due respect, your pastor doesn't know much about Luther's later life. Luther's last major publication was Von den Jüden und iren Lügen (On the Jews and their Lies), written in 1543, just three years before his death. And the last sermon he gave, just three days before his death, was devoted entirely to the Jews, whom he urged be banished from German territory. This information is readily available by googling.

But as you point out, this doesn't matter, if Luther really did help to save more souls, and if saving souls is the only important thing. However, as an atheist, I am more inclined to judge people, Christians or otherwise, by their fruits. And unfortunately, one legacy of Martin Luther, who was wildly popular in Germany, is a particularly pernicious antisemitism.

This is not to say that antisemitism originated with Luther, but he was certainly an inspiration to many, including Hitler, who quoted him approvingly many times in his works, while mentioning Darwin a grand total of zero times. And it's hard to say that Luther was misquoted- Anna Sethe (who is German) or I can provide you with some more choice quotes if you like. So the many Christians, including Ray Comfort, who condemn the science of evolution because Darwin was a racist by today's standards, but who admire Luther despite his antisemitism and influence on history, are hypocritical and misinformed, at least by humanitarian and scientific standards.

Of course, if you guys are right, and nothing matters in this world but getting that ticket to Heaven, then I will concede.

cheers from sunny (and it's about time!) Vienna, zilch

stranger.strange.land said...

Whateverman said...

Lauding his contribution to Christian theology while ignoring the repugnant portions of it is hypocritical. Even more-so when the person praising him is seen to be accusing people of being false Christians.

WEM, informing someone that he has entered the sheepfold "some other way" than that prescribed by the Shepherd Himself is not an "accusation." It is a genuine concern that the person comes into the kingdom God's way.

Ultimately, of course, Christ is the one who knows for certain who His sheep are. We can make mistakes in determining who is or is not a true Christian. If someone has left the church we must assume that they are not a Christian and we share the gospel with them in an effort to bring them back. But Christ knows whether they were truly saved and wandered away for a time, or if they were never saved in the first place.

Craig

Abe said...

@ Craig stranger.strangeland,

I guess I did stray in my question trying to include Luther...
I'm curious why Christians, accept the Jewish 'Old Testament' as the Word of God, yet don't believe like the Jews that Jesus was not the Messiah they had prophetsized?

stranger.strange.land said...

Hey Zilch.

Yes, the information you provided confirms what I had previously understood to be the case.

I can see why you as an atheist would not appreciate the importance of the recovery of the doctrine of justification, hence your quip about a "ticket to heaven." To us Reformed Christians it was indeed the recovery of the Gospel of salvation itself, "the hinge on which all else turns," or "the doctrine by which the church stands or falls."

I must add here, Zilch, that I believe that it is the doctrine by which you and I ultimately will stand or fall. It is that crucial.

I know that Luther became bitter in his later life, and I believe that was a key factor in the failure of the Lutherans and Calvinists on the continent to unite. (Read on the Colloquy of Marburg) I didn't win the drawing for the book (Providence trumps Lady Luck every time) but I will buy it and I know I will enjoy the quotes. The proverbial 'baby and the bath water,' right?

May the Lord bless you; may the Lord save you.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Hey Abe,

The church receives the Old Testament as the word of God because the New Testament affirms it as the Word of God.

The gospel of Matthew, the book of Acts, and the epistle to the Hebrews are all transitional writings which demonstrate the continuity, and fulfillment of covenant promises in Jesus Christ quite vividly. The key passage that answers your question, Abe, I believe would be Luke 24:25-27. This from the lips of the risen Lord Jesus:

And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Paul, in chapters nine through eleven of Romans, deals with the issue of a majority of the covenant people's rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Example:Rom 9:27
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED.

Jesus throughout the gospels deals with the religious leaders of his day, chiefly the Pharisees. Example: John 5:46-47
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

And, of course, the entire book of Hebrews is devoted to the subject.
Example: Heb 1:1-2
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Have I answered your question Abe?

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

One more thought for Zilch.

You said...
And while I admit a grudging admiration for Luther's criticism of the abuses of the Catholic clergy, and his plain and clear way of stating things, I don't see him as any sort of model for morality...

That may be true, but Luther's criticisms of the Church, the abuses by the clergy, and his plain and clear way of stating things are what he is noted for.

Was King David a model for morality? Was Samson? Didn't Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph's brothers (10 of them, anyway) have moral failings? How about Moses? We won't even talk about Noah.

So, even the promenant characters in the bible had serious moral failings, but they were all part of God's plan and used by Him in important ways.

Craig

Abe said...

Craig-
Thank's for the explanation, I could never understand the reasoning for the Jewish faith to abandon such new scriptures...
Example: John 5:46-47
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

That seems to be a bit along the lines, 'If you don't believe me then you're wrong about what you think Moses said.'

Luke 24:25-27. This from the lips of the risen Lord Jesus:

And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"

I know that crucifixion was the common punishment back then for treason and I'm sure he suffered much like the others convicted...
well, if you believe Jesus is Savior, I guess what the prophets had written didn't mean much anyway
and the Jewish faith is dead wrong in not accepting Jesus as their new Messiah.

My, what if there's a new modern Christian faith that evolves like Luther's, disgracing the Jews and the Catholic faith?

zilch said...

Craig- thanks for your thoughtful response. I can well understand admiring Luther for some things but not for others- that's my position, too, after all- my criticisms, as I said, are towards those who don't admit the nasty side of Luther's character, and towards those who attack the theory of evolution because of Darwin's character.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Whateverman said...

Whateverman wrote the following:

Lauding his contribution to Christian theology while ignoring the repugnant portions of it is hypocritical. Even more-so when the person praising him is seen to be accusing people of being false Christians.


Craig B responded with this:
WEM, informing someone that he has entered the sheepfold "some other way" than that prescribed by the Shepherd Himself is not an "accusation." It is a genuine concern that the person comes into the kingdom God's way.


With all due respect, Craig, that answer was a bit disingenuous. You and I both know that the phrase "false Christian" is used in different ways. To be sure, some use it to express concern for people being mislead by false doctrine; it's a warning that they've strayed from the one true path.

But if you search Ray's blog, you'll see plenty of examples where it's used to dismiss opinions. People who claim to have believed in the divinity of Jesus and the Bible, but who subsequently became non-believers, are portrayed as false Christians. Their opinions can't be valid, because they never "really" believed in the first place.

There isn't an ounce of love or concern in the people who use the phrase like this.

Ray, too, dismisses the opinions of those don't fit neatly within his world view. To be honest, he uses the "concern" version of false Christian much more than the "dismissive" version; his supporters (at Atheist Central) do most of the dismissing.

But the point is this: if you're going to dismiss Darwin because of his opinions on subjects not related to the theory of evolution, you're a hypocrite by refusing to do the same to Luther. Especially when those opinions ARE related to Biblical morality.

With all due respect, Craig, the premise of this book reveals its author's hypocrisy.

stranger.strange.land said...

Abe,

My answer was to your question, "Why [do] Christians, accept the Jewish 'Old Testament' as the Word of God, yet don't believe like the Jews that Jesus was not the Messiah they had prophetsized?"

That was your question, wasn't it?
Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

@ Whateverman

Hey, Jon.

First of all, I am not Ray. I know that the words in your first comment were written with Ray in mind, but my response was from my own perspective (and my own agenda :). Ray does rather bluntly tell those who were once in the church, "You were never a true Christian in the first place." I am not sure whether or not he is placing them in the same category as those described in 1 John 2:19, Heb. 3:12 and Heb. 6:4-6. I just don't know. There may be some to whom those sobering verses rightly apply; but I am inclined to believe that more often the blame for professing believers leaving the faith can be placed on the churches.

Over the past two years, I have often been drawn to engage former Christians in an exchange of comments, and the questions I ask are out of genuine, heartfelt concern for those individuals. I have been around long enough to know that there are some people who have a genuine beef against the church they left (the teaching or the people) and may have projected that onto Christianity as a whole. Others were just confused, and some are true Christians who let their own sinful desires get the best of them for a while. It does happen.

You said, "But the point is this: if you're going to dismiss Darwin because of his opinions on subjects not related to the theory of evolution, you're a hypocrite by refusing to do the same to Luther. Especially when those opinions ARE related to Biblical morality."

Jon, I think you have made a valid point. It is sadly true that many have used Darwinian evolution itself as an occasion to justify their wicked actions against others. Examples: I think of the colonization of lands inhabited by "lesser evolved" peoples in order to plunder the resources. Others with a more benign but patronizing attitude (although just as wrong) had the idea that the "higher" races had the responsibility of taking care of those peoples that were on a lower rung of the evolutionary ladder.

But I believe, as you do, that "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." You were right to bring that to light.

Thank you,

Craig B

(I continue to get confirmation that I selected the right blogger name. It seems to fit me : )

Abe said...

Craig,
Yes, you did answer my question to the best of your Christian faith's abilities.
I'm a Deist who finds the Jewish faith more sincere and lovingly not preoccupied in converting others to their God (you do share the same God, right?).
I thought that thru your belief of 'The Trinity', the Holy Spirit was your God's gift of enlightening others rather than these modern money ministries of the Evangelicals.

Craig Boyd said...

I thought that thru your belief of 'The Trinity', the Holy Spirit was your God's gift of enlightening others rather than these modern money ministries of the Evangelicals.

The Holy Spirit was sent to assume the office of Christ's Vicar on earth, and to glorify Him. He reproves "the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment."

He applies the salvation that Christ accomplished on the cross to those whom Christ redeemed, by regeneratng them (the second birth) and creating faith in their hearts through the preaching of the word of God.

Personally, Abe, I suspect that this is a concept that the modern evangelical money ministry folk know nothing about.

Craig

Whateverman said...

SISL wrote much, a tiny portion of which was the following: I have often been drawn to engage former Christians in an exchange of comments, and the questions I ask are out of genuine, heartfelt concern for those individuals.

My experiences with you lead me to believe that you're sincere, Craig, and I don't think I've ever seen you use the phrase as a dismissal. It should go without saying, but I enjoy talking with ya, even if we disagree on a few issues.

Apparently, I'm also no longer the only deist around here (woot!). Being a self-identified deist, I tend to yearn for more rational theism; where I find the radical kind is where I'm liable to be writing & discussing with people.

I also believe strongly that consistency is important. I struggle to make sure I'm being consistent, regardless of whether it's in reference to religion, politics, philosophy, preferences in music/art or whatever. Inconsistency helps show me where I'm saying one thing but believing something else, for example.

The point about Luther is where I believe Ray is being inconsistent. I'm doubtful that he'd ever consider the idea, though.

In any case, Craig, have a great weekend...

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks Jon.

I agree that pointing out some of Darwin's unfortunate statements about certain peoples is not an argument against his scientific theories. Now, if it can be shown that an underlying racism was a factor that influenced his conclusions, it would be a different story.

But, do you really think that compiling and publishing a series of Luther's quotes that would be appreciated by those of us who are interested in evangelism constitutes hypocrisy on the part of Ray Comfort? I don't. I am not going to dismiss what Luther said about justification and the gospel just because he also said some really bad things concerning Jews.

Jon, I am going to lay all my cards face up. I see these recent objections to the book Luther Gold for what they really are, just the latest move to counter Ray Comfort's bold public stand against atheism, under the guise of being righteously indignant toward him for "giving Luther a pass" on his anti-Semitism. Period.

Jon, I'm happy that you now have found a fellow deist in Abe:-) Where did Kerri "I'm the Rabbit" Love go? No more comments, no more blog or profile, no more facebook account. I'm sad.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Whateverman

You have a great weekend, too. We are having a wet one here in the Mojave Desert. That means that next month the desert will be carpeted with wild-flowers. Love it.

Craig

Abe said...

Craig,
Thank's for your sincerity.
Hope the desert's carpet is an incredible bloom from above this year.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks, Abe. The Lupines are already beginning to sprout up in my yard.

Whateverman said...

I don't want to draw this conversation out too much, Craig. We both have our opinions, and hammering away at them is just going to end up being seen as stubbornness (or whatever).

However, you wrote the following:

do you really think that compiling and publishing a series of Luther's quotes that would be appreciated by those of us who are interested in evangelism constitutes hypocrisy on the part of Ray Comfort? I don't.

And

I am not going to dismiss what Luther said about justification and the gospel just because he also said some really bad things concerning Jews.

Craig, Luther's opinions come directly from his religious belief. HE equated his opinions on Jews and his opinions on the gospel. He's known for having been and outspoken Christian intellectual, not a socio-political pundit who occasionally strayed into theology.

By contrast, Darwin's racist opinions were common for the time and place he was raised. There's no hint that these were related or associated with the work he did on natural selection. The two were completely unrelated.

Yes, it's hypocritical to laud a Christian thinker for some of the things he said, while ignoring the less palatable things he also said again as a Christian thinker. I can't be any more blunt about it.

---

Craig, I've never seen the desert, and although I don't think I'm romanticizing it too much, I'm already jealous about the impending spring you folks will have :)

As for Kerri, she disappeared from our group SMRT as well. She was very active for a while, and then she stopped posting. I remember hearing that she was having some health problems just before she went quiet, but I haven't heard from her in a while. I miss her too.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks, Jon.

Two of the most influential documents in the Protestant Reformation were Luther's On The Enslaved Will (now, usually called "Bondage of the Will"), and his compiled lecture notes on the Epistle to the Galatians. These two works contain the essense of Luther's theology as it touches God and man, sin and salvation. In fact, Jon, they are regarded by church historians part of the canon of Reformation literature.

I see nothing in Luther's theology itself (the essense of which, by the way, is also my theology, at least as far as the doctrines of God's grace in salvation are concerned), that would explicitly or by necessary inference lead one to disparage Jews.

I am assuming that the quotes that Ray has selected are those that relate to the gospel and evangelism, as Luther was a key figure in restoring the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone to the church in that day, as well as the use of the Law in evangelism.

Now, according to discussions I have heard on the White Horse Inn program, Luther had high hopes and expectations that the Reformation movement would lead Jewish people to finally embrace Jesus Christ. When that hope failed to materialize..., well, to say that Luther was bitterly disappointed and angry would be a gross understatement. This may be what you are referring to.

If he did later used his theology of salvation to try to justify anti-Semitism and the horrible things he said about Jews, he was just plain wrong to do so. That does not take away from the theology itself, which I believe is biblicly sound.

Okay, obviously I could say more on this topic, but I mainly wanted to give reasons for my opinion that Ray Comfort's publishing a book of Luther quotes does not constitute a tacit endorsement of or turning a blind eye to his anti-Semitic statements.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Yes, I miss Kerri's comments. Even though we did go head to head a few times at AC, she was a fun person to talk to, and we had some friendly e-mail conversations.

Craig

Spence Ohana said...

Interesting post Trish. :)

And interesting comments.
Of course I'm familiar with the derogatory term "cafeteria Catholic" which tends to be defined as ones who claim to be Catholic while dissenting from Roman Catholic moral teaching. But I didn't realize until after reading this posting that Martin Luther has a following of many "Cafeteria Christians" who select which Christian doctrines of his they accept and which they don't. I've read on many of my Protestant friends and families my space and facebook pages where they will list Martin Luther as their hero. Which in the case of my findings here just seems so strange. The literal meaning of the word hero is "protector" or "defender". And I think it's safe for me to assume that y'all feel that Luther was the defender of the "real" Truth of the Scriptures through his own personal interpretation. But then if the Holy Spirit was truly working through him to share the "real" Truth about justification, salvation & authority, why did the Holy Spirit not work through him and have him error on the "real" Truth about baptism & consubstantiation? Personally I think it makes the argument of his theology questionable and confusing.

Blobfish said...

Luther 'reinterpreted' the scriptures just as the Roman Catholics; each branch of the Christian faith read into the scriptures to benefit their needs of the time.
I'm sure there will be new Christian faith offshoots that will denounce the Evangelical's interpetation just as Luther's.... it won't be long, there is too much money to be made off of the Christian faith in our poor, pitiful times. Look how prosperous and profound the Church of Jesus and the Ladder Day Saints has become in the 25 years.

stranger.strange.land said...

Spence Ohana asked ->

But then if the Holy Spirit was truly working through him to share the "real" Truth about justification, salvation & authority, why did the Holy Spirit not work through him and have him error on the "real" Truth about baptism & consubstantiation?

The Holy Spirit, of Whom our Lord said, "He will guide you into all truth," (not "have him error," as you said) apparently assigned that job to Calvin. : )

Craig

p.s. (How did I know that you would eventually show up on this thread?;)

stranger.strange.land said...

@ Blobfish..
I'm sure there will be new Christian faith offshoots that will denounce the Evangelical's interpetation just as Luther's....

There already are, my friend; there already are.

Craig

Spence Ohana said...

Craig, your answer to my question made me chuckle. :) I say Luther and Calvin then are great examples of why Sola Scriptura is NOT biblical and does not work. Maybe I can admire them for bringing about that truth! :) Because Craig I'm afraid if you go with this thought process then whose to say the Holy Spirit did not next assign Joseph Smith with the job of guiding all to the truth? Thankfully Scripture clearly tells me He left that job to His authoritative Church. ;)

Oh you know me, I like to follow up on my family member's coworkers (Ray and Trish) blogs to give my insight on misconceptions and misunderstandings. ;) Why, am I a nuisance when I show up on these threads? ;)

stranger.strange.land said...

Spence Ohana

Nuisance?! Absolutely not. I am very hurt that you would think that:-( We Reformation Christians were made to engage Roman Catholics in discussion.

Luther -> Calvin. I thought that would make you chuckle.

Q. ..whose to say the Holy Spirit did not next assign Joseph Smith with the job of guiding all to the truth?

A. The Holy Spirit through the writings of the Apostles. For starters read Romans 1-8; Revelation 22:18; Heb. 1:1-2; Gal. 1:8-9

Thankfully Scripture clearly tells me He left that job to His authoritative Church. ; )

So you do believe in Sola Scriptura. Congratulations, you are now a Protestant. Welcome home:-)

Craig

Spence Ohana said...

Craig,

A "Sola Scriptura believing Catholic", that's not possible. ;) Yes I said Scripture clearly tells me, but the Apostles, their successors and His one, holy, apostolic and visible Church also confirm this. The teaching of the early Church parallels the scriptures. In the year 110, Ignatius of Antioch wrote in his letter to Polycarp, "You must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the priests." That Rome was the source of authority is confirmed by Irenaeus (140-202 AD): "We point to the tradition of that very great and very ancient and universally known Church, which was established at Rome…for with this Church, because of its superior authority, every church must agree" (Against Heresies 3, 3:2).

My point with Joseph Smith was that you guys feel Luther thought the Catholic Church was corrupt in it's teachings - so he brought forward the Truth (well some of it anyways per your picking and choosing)...well then Calvin comes along, obviously he thought Luther was still corrupted by the Catholic teachings in baptism and the Eucharist - so he brought forward the Truth...well then Smith comes along and claims all the churches were corrupt including Luther and Calvin so he felt the Holy Spirit was working through him to restore the Christian church. Do you see the pattern? And you're saying the only way to distinguish whom was really right was to compare them to Scripture? Well what if my personal interpretation differs from yours and I come to a different conclusion?

Listen Dude (and I say that in the nicest sense like my 5 year old uses the term :) Home is what you Reformation Christians left. Using the term "Home" actually brought up a great point! Jesus compares His Church only to visible things, such as a flock, a body, a HOUSE :), a city set on a hill, and a kingdom. His Church is a visible institution and not merely the body of believers. Timothy 3:15 tells us that the Church is "the pillar and foundation of truth." The words pillar and foundation indicate assurance and stability, not division and confusion. So Craig, I will continue to pray for Christian unity, and pray all Christians come back home. :)

stranger.strange.land said...

Spence Ohana

We believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We also believe that Christ founded the church as a visible institution consisting of those who confess the true faith, and their children.

We believe that the true church is recognized by three marks:

1. It practices the pure preaching of the gospel.
2. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them.
3, It excercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins.

In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head.

This is how the true church is known, and no one has the right to separate from it.
__________________________________

The difference between the reformers and Joseph Smith is that the former came to their conclusions through exegesis of Scripture, the latter through a claim of special revelation to him and extra-biblical documents (which he wrote himself) in clear violation of the strict exortation of Scripture: "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book" (Re. 22:18) and without regard to the seminal ecumenical creeds (i.e. Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian, Chalcedonian) which the reformers did accept.

BIG difference
________________________________

Listen dude...

You can call me "Dude" any time you want, I like it. :-)

We believe that "home" is where the true gospel is believed and preached, that is, a (forensic) justification given entirely by grace , solely through a faith (a faith that necessarily produces works) only because of Christ's work (perfect life of obedience & suffering on the cross as the vicarious substitute for sinners), and all this for the glory of God alone.

So Craig, I will continue to pray for Christian unity, and pray all Christians come back home.

And I, Spence Ohana, pray for the "unity of the faith" and that all who name the name of Christ would return home to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Bud McGlocklin said...

Trish this is the best article you have ever written. Your comments about Luther are incredible and show that you have really studied. Did you go to Seminary? This is by far the best article of your entire ministry, please write like this on a regular basis and you will be well respected.

Bud McGlocklin said...

Trish this is the best article you have ever written. Your comments about Luther are incredible and show that you have really studied. Did you go to Seminary? This is by far the best article of your entire ministry, please write like this on a regular basis and you will be well respected.

Spence Ohana said...

Craig said,

"it governs itself according to the pure Word of God"

Interesting. Imagine if all institutions and governments ran themselves according to each persons individual interpretation of the "manuscript" of it and with no Head visibly here to answer questions...much chaos. Again, you did not answer my question - what if I arrive at a different interpretation and conclusion with the pure Word of God? And how do you explain the authority that Jesus gave His apostles: "Whoever listens to you listens to Me. Whoever rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-19). Did that binding and loosing authority just end with them? According to the ECF the answer is no.

"We believe that "home" is where the true gospel is believed and preached" maybe for your Atheist friends who comment here it's worth sharing a list of churches that do this so they are not confused as to which direction/denomination they should go with - because all claim to be preaching the true gospel.

Thanks Craig for sharing your insight with me, although I find many holes and confusion in them - I respect the way you dialogue with me. :)

Spence Ohana said...

P.S. Craig on my drive to work I got to thinking that list I suggested you make for the Atheist to point them in the right direction/denomination of "a visible institution consisting of those who confess the true faith" would also be great for those 1,000,000,000+ illiterate people in this world who don't have the privilege like you and I to read and study how to recognize and know the visible institution, Christ's Church. Although for all these people I think it's a risky, dangerous gamble for them to just believe/trust some Joe-blow like you or I (but I'm curious what your list would be :). Christ didn't make it so hard or confusing to recognize His Church, but I think your method does.

stranger.strange.land said...

To: Spence Ohana

We believe that the "office of the keys" is the preaching of the Holy Gospel and Church discipline, and it is by these two things the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers. (Matt. 16:19 and John 20:21-23) The "keys" are in the custody of the called ministers of word and sacrament, and the officers of the church.

The kingdom of heaven is opened and shut by the preaching of the Gospel in this way:

According to the command of Christ, it is proclaimed to believers that as they accept with true faith the promise of the Gospel, all their sins are really forgiven them by God, only for the sake of Christ's merits.

But to unbelievers and hypocrites, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation "abide on them" (John 3:31-36) so long as they are not converted.

Matthew 18:15-20 lays out how church discipline is to be carried out under the ultimate authority of Jesus, in heaven, as head of the church.
________________________________

You asked about what church I would direct people to. Yes, there is a big problem here in the "evangelical world," in that there are all sorts of diverse groups that call themselves "church." I admit that up front. There is a great need for a 21st Century Reformation.

Despite denominational distinctions, we believe that true churches have three defining characteristics:

1. They preach the true Gospel

2. They administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper according to the Bible.

3. They lovingly discipline their members when the members neglect, or attempt to corrupt, either of the first two characteristics (or "marks").

Since we believe that the Scriptures teach that "Justification by Faith Alone" is essential to the Gospel, I would definitely steer people away from a "church" that neglects or denys that doctrine, much less anathematizes it.

You asked, "...what if I arrive at a different interpretation and conclusion with the pure Word of God?..."

Well, that has been the history of Christendom, hasn't it. All that we can do is continue to proclaim the true gospel (First key of the kingdom), trusting that the Holy Spirit does in fact accompany the preaching of the Word, creating faith and repentance in the hearers.

I know that you don't agree, but we believe that the unbroken thread of continuity in the church that our Lord instituted is not the succession of popes (Roman Catholic), not direct organizational propagation all the way back to Antioch (Eastern Orthodox), but the continuity of the preaching of the Gospel according to the bible. That is, the Good News of salvation solely by the grace of God, only through the means of faith in Christ and His merits, as He lived a perfect life and died as the substitutionary atonement for sinners.

I hope I have established some clarity about the points on which we differ, Spence Ohana. (I just wouldn't feel right calling you "Dudette" ; )

Craig

Spence Ohana said...

Craig,

Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my comments. You can call me a Dudette, after all I was born and raised in So Cal and a typical surfer girl in my teen days. ;) So it wouldn't bother me.

I still do feel like your list of characteristics and beliefs of what defines Christ's true churches is so incredibly vague and far from being "opened and shut" distinguishable. And since it is the most incredibly, most important Truth for all human beings to know - I'm afraid in my opinion Evangelical/Reformation Christians and their churches are doing many humans a disservice by being so vague about where they can hear and know the true Gospel from.

You said, "The kingdom of heaven is opened and shut by the preaching of the Gospel in this way..".
Under what or whose authority instructs you to interpret the Gospel "in this way"? And if your answer is the Bible, where specifically in the Scriptures does it state on the matters of faith, justification, baptism, the Eucharist, etc. that you must interpret them "in this way"?

Funny your 3 characteristics, sound exactly like the Catholic Church to me. :)

You said, "I would definitely steer people away from a "church" that neglects or denys that doctrine, much less anathematizes it."
Your statement definitely tells me you misunderstand the doctrine of Unam Sanctam, or Salvation Outside of the Church. My guess is you probably understand it as the Church is saying that only Catholics can go to heaven. This view is not correct. The Church is simply acknowledging the fact that Jesus formulated one plan of salvation (do you not agree?). If that is true, then it follows that all other plans are false. The Church is merely declaring that she believes her teachings to be true. In actuality, per your previous comment when you state "Gospel in this way", and "a "church" that neglects or denys that doctrine" you are basically anathematizing or cursing those that do not believe in your interpretation of the Scriptures. Do you not see that?

The Catholic Church teaches that it is possible for non-Catholics to get to Heaven. St. Augustine's position is also consistent with the Catholic Church. "When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body…. All who are within the Church in heart are saved in the unity of the ark (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:28 [39] [A.D. 394]). Paul clearly teaches that we are judged by our intentions. "Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Anyhow, you might find some clarity in understanding this and other doctrines of the Catholic Church by considering this statement: "But this dogma [No Salvation outside the Church] is to be understood as the Church itself understands it. For our Savior did not leave it to private judgment to explain what is contained in the deposit of faith, but to the doctrinal authority of the Church."

Well Craig I hope I was able to establish some clarity about the points in which we differ. :) I think I recall something about you mentioning the wild flowers blooming soon. We too live in an area (the hill country in central TX) where wild flowers blanket the ground. I too can't wait for Springtime to arrive and to see the wildflowers!

stranger.strange.land said...

I was admiring the tiny yellow and purple wild flowers in my yard yesterday afternoon. Because it is colder here, the Lupines are a little slower in getting around to blooming. See my latest blog post for how the wildflower situation is in Tucson, where my son lives.

Hmmm. I see that my last response caused some confusion, and you may have read something into it that wasn't there. So, a short answer:

Whatever else would be on my list (Craig's list?:), it would not include any churches that didn't teach justification based on something other than, or in addition to Christ's merits alone.

Craig

photosynthesis said...

Hey Craig!

(just a hello)

photosynthesis said...

I agree that this is a somewhat nice post Trish.

Now, I might give you a few low hits.

1. As others said, maybe Ray should stop dissing Darwin. I know, you cannot control Ray, but maybe now you know why he is plain wrong.

2. As others said, well, this guy was supposed to be complaining about moral issues, yet he has his own. Yet, I agree with you again. After all, our societal morals have not progressed in a single hit. Slavery and Women emancipation did not happen at the same time ...

3. However, then what are those fruits of the spirit supposed to be?

4. Another however, then how can you repent of your sins if you do not think something is a sin? (Such as the wrongs in Martin Luther, and in Calvin insisting on burning witches for instance?).

5. If the fruits of the spirit are so ... limited in scope, how then do you know there is any fruit of the spirit at all?

Best and thanks for a honest post,

G.E.

stranger.strange.land said...

Hello G.E.

This thread has been a very good conversation all around, in my opinion. A lot of thoughtful input from everyone.

G.E., is your school sending you to the int'l conference in Norton, MA this June?

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Hmmm. Looking back on my Mar. 7 comment, I see that I tripped on my own double negative and fell flat on my face.

I will leave my mistake there and just say that I direct people to churches that teach salvation through Christ's merits alone. Nothing more, nothing less.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Trish said: regarding Luther's teaching
"In fact, he was wrong in many things. His view of infant baptism was not biblical (I believe believers in Christ alone should be baptized), as was his view of consubstantiation (view on communion). But I believe that he was a true believer in Jesus Christ despite his errors."

How does one know which of Luther's teachings was correct? He was a theologian and he believed that his views were scripture-based.

The fact that Protestants pick and choose which of the reformers teachings they agree with based on their personal interpretation of scripture shows the fallacy of sola scriptura.

stranger.strange.land said...

I was surprised to see in my email inbox this aftenoon a new comment from a post that was written over a year and a half ago.

I would be interested in knowing, Dr. Rentler, how you came across this old post.

As touching the issue you have revived, I can only restate the point that Calvin made in his famous reply to Cardinal Sadoleto: He told him that all of his righteousness before God was Christ's righteousness, and in no measure his own, and that he needed to be shaken from his confidence that he had the ability to cooperate with God's grace sufficiently to attain a final acquittal.

Dr. Rentler, I wonder if you could do me a favor and briefly state what you understand the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scripture to be.

Btw, I think you said in your Blogger profile that you live in Pennsylvania. My daughter lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and baby boy. (+ 3 cats : )

I'll be checking my inbox. You have a great weekend.

Craig Boyd.