LT Statement on Luther and His Later Views Toward the Jews

Lighthouse Trails has now released our own edition of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. One of the sections we included was on Luther and his role in the reformation.  While many Christians admire the accomplishments of Luther, to ignore his later views toward the Jews (views that Hitler is said to have used to persuade the Germans to turn against the Jews) would be irresponsible of us. We included the following statement in the endnotes section of our book:

Toward the end of his days, Luther became profoundly anti-semitic, and the publishers of this book wish to dissociate themselves utterly from the views he expressed on the Jewish People during these final few years. As Perry, Peden and Von Laue point out, “Initially, Luther hoped to attract Jews to his vision of reformed Christianity. In That Jesus Was Born a Jew (1523), the young Luther expressed sympathy for Jewish sufferings and denounced persecution as a barrier to conversion. He declared, ‘I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from the Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians . . . We [Christians] are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord.’” Based on this point, Luther went on to say: “if it were proper to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, my dear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin to revile me as a Jew.” Thanks in no small part to the appalling extent of Rome’s past persecution of the Jews ‘in the Name of Christ’, the vast majority of Jews did not convert to Christianity, and this, combined with Rome’s many false teachings about the Jews, prompted Luther towards his violent diatribes against them. It should also be borne in mind that he lived in a very anti-semitic time, and in a very anti-semitic part of the world. Therefore, while totally opposing this feature of his latter years, the publishers feel we should not forget his achievements for Christ earlier in his life. from the endnotes section of the Lighthouse Trails edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

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