Listen to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod minister, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, talk about what drove Luther’s hammer…
There he goes again…
November 10th was the 528th birthday of Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther. The Lutheran radio show, Issues, Etc., hosted by Todd Wilken, interviewed Uwe Siemon-Netto of the League of Faithful Masks, and author of The Fabricated Luther, about the popular notion that the writings of Martin Luther which were critical of the Jews were in fact part of the source of the twentieth-century Nazi form of anti-Semitism. I will attempt to summarize Siemon-Netto’s explanation and defense of Martin Luther.
Some of Martin Luther’s writings from late in his ministry certainly do not match the political-correctness of modern Western civilization, but they are hardly the source of Nazi sentiment against the Jews. For starters, late in his life, Luther was wracked with physical pain and illness, which took a serious toll on him. Psychologically, people under such severe physical and emotional stress are prone to give expression to ideas which they otherwise would not. Luther’s earlier writings were are more affirming and caring, urging the evangelization of the Jews.
In sixteenth century Germany, it was still a civil crime to commit blasphemy against the Christian God. Thus, the Jews’ denial of Christ was legally categorized as a violation of German blasphemy laws. While today, Western civilization considers blasphemy laws unjustifiable, we must not judge a man anachronistically when he is seen acting consistent with the context of his own generation.
Luther’s statements critical of the Jews had been, right or wrong, suppressed by the Lutheran church due to their recognition that they reflect something other than theologically Lutheran attitude. These writings were recovered and misused by proponents of the Volkisch movement which promoted pre-Christian pagan ethnocentricity and Romantic nationalism, among other influences. Their racist views are projected back onto Luther and unjustly point to him as a primogenitor of their own views when they were actually engaging in public relations to popularize their own peculiar views.
These days, when people find how the Nazis and other German anti-Semites utilized quotes by Martin Luther, it is easy to come away assuming Luther was anti-Semitic in a manner comparable to Nazi Aryanism. Todd Wilken asked Uwe Siemon-Netto to put in a nutshell what he would recommend as a helpful response and defense of Martin Luther in the light of such assumptions. Siemon-Netto explained as follows:
A) The entire Lutheran church rejected Luther’s statements that were critical of Judaism;
B) What Luther wrote against the Jews in his later life was un-Lutheran as compared with his earlier writing on the same subject;
C) Luther was fallible, and made egregious mistakes—an admission made by Martin Luther probably more than anyone else.
Happy Reformation Day! October 31, 2011 marks the 494th anniversary of the legendary event considered the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation when Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailed the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences(commonly known as the 95 Theses) to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. In the years that followed, Luther lead the movement to reform the church’s understanding of what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of justification by God’s grace alone, received through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. The Lutheran tradition would build on Luther’s work on justification, and they placed it at the center and starting point of all of the benefits of the redemption purchased
by Christ for his people. But biblical reformation of soteriology didn’t end with Luther and the Lutherans. The Reformed movement also grew alongside of the Lutheran movement, and while both were co-belligerents against the Roman doctrines of justification and the other benefits of redemption in Christ, they differed on the most biblical way to systematize these truths.
Friday on the Reformed Forum’s podcast, Christ the Center, Camden Bucey, Jim Cassidy and Jeff Waddington interviewed Dr. Lane Tipton, the new Charles Khrae Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Tipton was allowed two hours to spell out the differences between the Lutheran and Reformed approaches to justification and many current issues related to this essential aspect of Protestant theology, such as whether Dr. Michael Horton’s academic work on the subject is moving Reformed theology toward a more Lutheran, and therefore,according to Dr. Tipton, semi-Pelagian doctrine of justification. Listen to the podcast at this link.
I was introduced to Reformed theology by Michael Horton’s materials and the Lord used his parachurch ministries Christian United for Reformation (CURE) and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE) and the White Horse Inn radio show to gradually bring me around to embrace it. I will certainly be looking forward to a future Christ the Center program in which Dr. Horton responds to Dr. Tipton’s characterization of his work on justification and the other benefits of redemption in Christ. More public dialogue on this ought to take place, IMHO. At this point, Dr. Tipton’s case sounds convincing and more in line with the Reformed confessions and catechisms, as opposed to Dr. Horton’s efforts to, as I once heard him state on the air, build a kind of ecumenism between Reformed, Lutheran and Anglican traditions. I can see how some synthesis may be taking place in that effort. But what do I know?
Reformata, Semper Reformanda!
The following is from the About Us page at Fort Worth’s Theological Pursuits Bookstore owner David Jacks’ new website, ReformationShirts.Com. Get yours today! I’ve got three of them myself.
David Jacks, in 1995 while studying at SWBTS, circulated a shirt bearing the names and likenesses of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. The shirt was affectionately known as the “Dead Theologians Society t-shirt.” Since that time, the “DTS” shirt has been re-vamped and has now taken the form of the shirt shown on this web site.
Reformation theology has played an important role in the history of Christianity. With the recent resurgence of Reformation theology, many adhering to the Doctrines of Grace search for ways to expose the world to their beliefs. This shirt “with a bunch of dead guys on the back of it” peaks the interest of onlookers and provides an excellent bridge for introducing these “dead guys’” Biblical beliefs.
About the Logo & Its History
The front of the shirt bears a likeness from the symbol of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation – a “burning bush” with the phrase “After Darkness, Light.” The “burning bush” symbol and the phrase were used by the Reformers to represent the light of the Gospel of Grace overcoming the darkness of the Law of Works propagated by the Roman Catholic Church in the centuries leading up to the Reformation.
The back of the shirt bears the names and likenesses of four of the best-known Protestant Reformers spanning a period of 400 years. A German monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546), whose heart was captured by the belief of Sola Fide (Faith Alone for one’s Justification), sparked the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 1517, when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. Swiss theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) with his emphasis on God’s sovereignty and union with Christ, helped codify the teachings of the Reformation with his first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1539. New England Puritan Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), best known for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and his book Freedom of the Will, helped fan the spark of revival in The First Great Awakening and spread flames of salvation concerning the holiness and grace of God in America in the early to mid 18th century. Englishman preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) spread the Doctrines of Grace in the mid to late 19th century with his passionate and eloquent sermons on the sovereignty and grace of God.
These faithful men best symbolize in the Church’s recent history the beliefs summarized in the five Solas of the Protestant Reformation. These solas are found on the back of the shirt surrounding Luther, Calvin, Edwards and Spurgeon:
Sola Fide ~ Faith Alone
Sola Scriptura ~ Scripture Alone
Sola Gratia ~ Grace Alone
Soli Deo Gloria ~ Glory to God Alone
Solus Christus ~ Christ Alone
May you, too, be inspired and blessed by the truths conveyed on this shirt each time you wear it. And may your whole life be lived in loving obedience. Soli Deo Gloria – TO THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE!