October 31st, 1517 — All Saints Eve: Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. The document (written in Latin for his fellow priests) challenged teachings of the politically powerful Roman Catholic church. Later, with his safety assured by the emperor, Luther appeared before the Council at Worms, declaring, “I can not recant!”
On October 31, Catholics still commemorate all saints–known and unknown–with All Saints Day. Protestants commemorate Martin Luther with Reformation Day.
[Don’t confuse Martin Luther with civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]
For want of a human hero, too many Protestants revise history, venerating Luther as nobler than he actually was. It’s as if they cannot fathom the power of God’s word. They must give credit to a man for the Reformation. In their devotion to Protestantism, they dismiss Luther’s hateful, raging Antisemitism. Every year, at least one Luther fan refers me to the writings of a modern historian or theologian or some other guy with letters in front of his name, saying so-and-so can teach me what Luther really said.
The man wrote books. I can read what he really said for myself.
You can read what he said for yourself, too. Most of the following quotes are taken from Martin Luther’s book, On the Jews and Their Lies, translated from his native German to English by Martin H. Bertram. Read it online in its entirety HERE.
This Reformation Day, when you’re looking for Martin Luther quotes to post on your Facebook wall, consider these.
MARTIN LUTHER QUOTES ABOUT JEWS
- “If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words, ‘I baptize thee in the name of Abraham.'”
- “They are real liars and bloodhounds who. . . continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture. . .”
- “Oh how fond they are of the book of Esther, which is so beautifully attuned to their bloodthirsty, vengeful, murderous yearning and hope.”
- “The sun has never shone on a more bloodthirsty and vengeful people. . .”
- “They are very conceited because God spoke with them and issued them the Law of Moses on Mount Sinai. Here we arrive at the right spot, here God really has to let himself be tortured, here he must listen as they tire him with their songs and praises because he hallowed them with his holy law, set them apart from other nations, and led them out of Egypt.”
- “The worse a Jew is, the more arrogant he is, solely because he is a Jew.”
- “Be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils. . . Where you see or hear a Jew teaching, remember that you are hearing nothing but a venomous basilisk who poisons and kills people merrily by fasten. . .”
- “The devil with all his angels has taken possession of this people. . .”
- “Whenever you see a genuine Jew, you may with a good conscience cross yourself and bluntly say, ‘There goes a devil incarnate.'”
- “In their synagogues and in their prayers they wish us every misfortune. They rob us of our money and goods through their usury, and they play on us every wicked trick they can. . . no one acts thus, except the devil himself, or whomever he possesses, as he has possessed the Jews.”
- “He [God] does not care to see or have anything to do either with them or their pious conduct, which is so thickly, thickly, heavily, heavily coated with the blood of the Messiah and his Christians.”
- “They are a heavy burden, a plague, a pestilence, a sheer misfortune for our country.”
- “. . . they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnapped children. . .”
- “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. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing or blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.”
- “I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”
- [I advise] “. . . all their books, their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible, be taken from them. . .”
- “I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.”
- “. . . that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country.”
- ” . . . that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. . .”
- “I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.”
- “I advise that. . . all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken away from them. . .”
- “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. . . “
- “. . . Eject them forever from the country. . . gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but a little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!”
- “But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews’ synagogues and forbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God’s name? They will still keep doing it in secret. . . They must be driven from our country.”
- “I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects. . . act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish.”
And that’s why I’m not so enamored with the ‘great’ Martin Luther. By the way, I am Protestant, and it’s OK to say that.