The Dark Side of Martin Luther

Yesterday was Martin Luther’s 531st birthday, and today is the Feast Day of St. Martin. It seems like a fitting time to give an honest assessment of some of the darker parts of Luther’s legacy, and consider their implications.

There’s a popular Luther narrative that plays out a little like Star Wars. A humble son of the Church rises up to overthrow the Dark Side, the Evil Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, all while cominfg to see his true identity. We love an underdog story, so it’s easy to root for Luther. And this narrative is an important one, both for Protestants (to show why the Reformation was “necessary”) and atheists (to show why Catholicism/Christianity/fundamentalism/religion is dangerous and evil).

But no matter how attractive it may be, this Luther narrative is a fundamentally false one. It relies on two sets of falsehoods: (1) distortions and exaggerations of the evils done on the Catholic side; and (2) a whitewashing of the real history of Luther and the early Protestants. I’ve addressed (1) before, and I’d like to address (2) head-on today.

The real-life Luther was a man passionately convicted of his own rightness, so convinced that he thought anyone who disagreed with him was either ignorant, stupid, or evil. It was this overconfidence that I would suggest is the root behind some of the shockingly evil things he advocated. I’m going to lay them out here, letting them speak for themselves, before considering the implications of these facts.

I. Luther’s Darker Side: the German Peasants

A few years after Luther’s break from the Catholic Church, the revolutionary momentum that he had helped to unleash culminated in a massive popular (and bloody) uprising called the German Peasants’ War. I’ll let James Stayer, a historian of the German Reformation, paint the scene:

Rudolf Schiestl, Peasant Warrior and Death, 1525 (20th c.)

When the Roman court stumbled into condemning Luther in 1520, many of the younger generation of German-speaking theologians and biblical scholars turned against it [Rome / the papacy]. Certainly there were elements here of German cultural rebellion against the Latinate clerical caste that had dominated northern Europe throughout the Middle Ages. […] Now the revolt of German against Latin merged with a revolt of the commonrs against the clergy and aristocracy. Such a revolt was climaxed in wide areas of South Germany by the German Peasants’ War of 1525-26. This so-called war united the unprivileged in towns and rural districts, and it was the high-water mark of the Reformation as a spontaneous popular movement.

Having accidentally sparked a bloody revolution, Luther was in an unpleasant position. He was quickly associated with the revolutionary peasants both by the peasants themselves (to expand their popularity) and by his Catholic opponents (to show the danger of his ideas). This lead him to respond to the revolution in two very different ways.

Initial Position: Call for Peace


Luther’s initial response was to criticize both sides of the feud in his Admonition to Peace. To the Christian princes and lords, he wrote:

We have no one on earth to thank for this disastrous rebellion, except you princes and lords, and especially you blind bishops and mad priests and monks, whose hearts are hardened, even to the present day. You do not cease to rant and rave against the holy gospel; even though you know that it is true and that you cannot refute it. In addition, as temporal rulers you do nothing but cheat and rob the people so that you may lead a life of luxury and extravagance. The poor common people cannot bear it any longer. The sword is already at your throats, but you think that you sit so firm in the saddle that no one can unhorse you. This false security and stubborn perversity will break your necks, as you will discover.

(As an aside, notice how Luther is convinced that his opponents know that he is right, and just refuse to accept it: it can’t be an honest difference of opinion or Biblical interpretation.)

But Luther also addressed the revolting peasants, admitting the validity of some of their arguments, but calling them to moderation:

Nevertheless, you, too, must be careful that you take up your cause justly and with a good conscience. If you have a good conscience, you have the comforting advantage that God will be with you, and will help you. Even though you did not succeed for a while, or even suffered death, you would win in the end, and you would preserve your souls eternally with all the saints. But if you act unjustly and have a bad conscience, you will be defeated. And even though you might win for a while and even kill all the princes, you would suffer the eternal loss of your body and soul in the end.

Later Position: Call for Massacre

Luther’s Admonition to Peace was published in early 1525. Shortly after this, Luther toured the war-torn area, seeing both the severity of the peasants’ actions, and the ineffectiveness of his own preaching. His admonition to peace having failed, Luther’s new position can fairly be characterized as an admonition to massacre.

In May of 1525, he published a work originally titled Against the Rioting Peasants, the title of which was quickly changed to Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, in which he called on everyone to kill the peasants, en masse:

Besides, any man against whom it can be proved that he is a maker of sedition is outside the law of God and Empire, so that the first who can slay him is doing right and well. For if a man is an open rebel every man is his judge and executioner, just as when a fire starts, the first to put it out is the best man. For rebellion is not simple murder, but is like a great fire, which attacks and lays waste a whole land. Thus rebellion brings with it a land full of murder and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and turns everything upside down, like the greatest disaster. Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.

His new message was to offer the prospect of martyrdom to those fighting for the aristocracy, but only hellfire for all the slain peasants:

Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God, if he fights with such a conscience as I have just described, for he is in God’s Word and is obedient to him. On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell, for he bears the sword against God’s Word and is disobedient to him, and is a member of the devil. […] Strange times, these, when a prince can win heaven with bloodshed, better than other men with prayer!

As Dr. Mark U. Edwards, Jr. notes, “Luther had his way” and the “peasants were brutally suppressed.” Estimates of those slaughtered range from 100,000 to 300,000.

II. Luther’s Darker Side: the Jews


Another major problem in the world of Martin Luther was widespread Catholic suspicion and hatred of the Jews. This was a problem that Luther could hardly be ignorant of: his own church in Wittenberg had a Judensau: on the outside of the church, there was (and still is) an obscene carving of a group of Jews and pigs suckling at the teat of a pig, while a rabbi looks under the pig’s tail.

Initial Position: An Impassioned Defense of Jewish Believers

In 1523, Luther published That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, an eloquent denunciation of anti-Judaism. Luther lambasted the Catholic Jew-haters who he accused of both treating the Jews in a subhuman manner, and in driving them from the Gospel:

The Judensau at Wittenberg.
Our fools, the popes, bishops, sophists, and monks-the crude asses’ heads-have hitherto so treated the Jews that anyone who wished to be a good Christian would almost have had to become a Jew. If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. 
They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property. When they baptize them they show them nothing of Christian doctrine or life, but only subject them to popishness and monkery. When the Jews then see that Judaism has such strong support in Scripture, and that Christianity has become a mere babble without reliance on Scripture, how can they possibly compose themselves and become right good Christians? I have myself heard from pious baptized Jews that if they had not in our day heard the gospel they would have remained Jews under the cloak of Christianity for the rest of their days. For they acknowledge that they have never yet heard anything about Christ from those who baptized and taught them.  
I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians and turn again to the faith of their fathers, the prophets and patriarchs. They will only be frightened further away from it if their Judaism is so utterly rejected that nothing is allowed to remain, and they are treated only with arrogance and scorn. If the apostles, who also were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles. Since they dealt with us Gentiles in such brotherly fashion, we in our turn ought to treat the Jews in a brotherly manner in order that we might convert some of them. For even we ourselves are not yet all very far along, not to speak of having arrived.

I suspect that most people today would agree with Luther completely on these points: treating the Jews in such a vile way was both unchristian and counter-productive (at least, if one is actually concerned about their eternal salvation). As the Reformation was still young at this point, Luther is also visibly hopeful at the prospect that the Jews will respond positively to his reformulation of the Gospel.

Later Position: A Call to Destroy the Jews


As with the German peasants, Luther was quickly disappointed. The Jews didn’t en masse convert to Lutheranism. So Luther turned against them, becoming increasingly antagonistic towards the Jews throughout his life. One of the last works Luther ever wrote was his 1543 book On the Jews and Their Lies, published just three years before his dead. The book is chock full of the standard anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and black legends about all the evil things the Jews allegedly do when Christians aren’t around. This leads Luther, in Chapter 11 of the book, to present his Jewish problem:
What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews.

Luther offered a seven-fold solution to his Jewish problem:

Johann Michael Voltz, Hep-Hep Riots (1819)
  1. First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to 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, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.

  2. Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them the fact that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
  3. Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.
  4. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.
  5. Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home.
  6. Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us an they possess. […] Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble.
  7. Seventh, 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 and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3 [:19]). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting., and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

In other words, burn down all the synagogues, burn down the houses of the Jews, deprive the Jews of their employment (and take all their money for “safekeeping”), and kill their rabbis and any Jews who leave home. Since the Jews weren’t going to simply stop practicing their religion, Luther’s proposal would require murdering an endless series of rabbis and their successors.

III. Germany’s Darker Side?
It’s probably worth mentioning the influence Luther’s ideas had on the spread of German anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism. No less a figure than William L. Shirer, in his famous book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, draws a line from Luther to Hitler:
Synagoge of Siegen, Germany, burning during Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany (November 9, 1938) 

It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believer in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jew and when they were sent away he advised that they be deprived of “all their cash and jewels and silver and gold” and furthermore, “that their synagogues or schools be set on fire, that their houses be broken up and destroyed… and they be put under a roof or stable, like the gypsies… in misery and captivity as they incessantly lament and complain to God about us” – advice that was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering and Himmler. 

In what was perhaps the only popular revolt in German history, the peasant uprising of 1525, Luther advised the princes to adopt the most ruthless measures against the mad dogs, as he called the desperate, downtrodden peasants. Here, as in his utterances about the Jews, Luther employed a coarseness and brutality of language unequaled in German history until the Nazi time. The influence of this towering figure extended down the generations in Germany, especially among the Protestants. Among other results was the ease with which German Protestantism became the instrument of royal and princely absolutism from the sixteenth century until the kings and princes were overthrown in 1918. The hereditary monarchs and petty rulers became the supreme bishops of the Protestant Church in their lands. Thus in Prussia the Hohenzollern King was the head of the Church. In no country with the exception of Czarist Russia did the clergy become by tradition so completely servile to the political authority of the State. Its members, with few exceptions, stood solidly behind the King, the Junkers and the Army, and during the nineteenth century they dutifully opposed the rising liberal and democratic movements. Even the Weimar Republic was anathema to most Protestant pastors, not only because it had deposed the kings and princes but because it drew its main support from the Catholics and the Socialists. During the Reichstag elections one could not help but notice that the Protestant clergy – Niemoeller was typical – quite openly supported the Nationalist and even the Nazi enemies of the Republic. Like Niemoller, most of the pastors welcomed the advent of Adolf Hitler to the chancellorship in 1933.

The idea that the Nazis were initially successful because of the groundwork that Luther laid is an intriguing hypothesis, and Shirer presents several strong arguments for it. But it’s worth noting in Luther’s defense that the situation is more complex than this. First, Luther hated Jews on account of their religion, rather than their race: he was willing to let the Jews live off of a tiny allowance if they would sincerely convert to Christianity. Hitler’s opposition to the Jews was based more on racial lines, and so even a great many Hebrew Christians died in the Holocaust. Second, as alluded to above, anti-Judaism predates Luther. That said, it is undeniable that Luther recognized the dangers of this hatred of the Jews, and yet fueled the fires nonetheless.

IV. Why This Matters

The question of how much Luther is to blame for the Holocaust is an intriguing one, but I want to go a few different directions, instead.

1. The Sin of Pride

I mentioned before that Luther was so passionately convinced of his own rightness that he thought his opponents must necessarily be ignorant, stupid, or evil. This is the spirit consistently animating Luther’s writings. When he’s writing to someone who agrees with him, or who he thinks will agree with him, we get Dr. Jekyll. When he realizes that the other person actually thinks he’s wrong, Mr. Hyde appears. We see it from the first with his writings to the papacy, sweetly promising to obey whatever the pope should decide, and then denouncing him as the Antichrist when the pope doesn’t decide in his favor.

We see that play out time and again in the above passages: he’s convinced that the Christian rulers who disagree with him secretly know the truth about the “Gospel,” but just refuse to acknowledge it. He’s gentle to the peasants until he realizes that they’re not listening to them; then he calls for their mass slaughter. Likewise, he defends the Jews, when he thinks that they’re open to hearing his version of the Gospel; when he fails, he calls for their destruction, as well.

This has all the marks of the sin of pride, the sin said to have caused the fall of Lucifer. And none of us, regardless of Church affiliation, are immune from these temptations. It’s so easy to fall into a mindset where your political or religious opponents are idiots or monsters. Let Luther’s life be a cautionary tale in that regard.
2. Less Catholic, Less Christian
Martin Luther at the time of his death.

When Catholics point out that several of Luther’s early writings sound pretty Catholic, the standard Protestant response (and a quite reasonable one, I might add), is that Luther wasn’t completely reformed yet. Even after he went into schism, he spent another quarter-century slowly divesting himself of his Catholic beliefs. But what’s remarkable is that, as Luther became less and less Catholic, he became less and less Christian. 

Compare the before-and-after you see above to see what I mean. There are countless other examples that point in the same direction, too. For example, Hosanna Lutheran Church notes that Luther’s language in Against the Papacy at Rome Founded by the Devil, written in 1545 (a year before his death), was “the most vehement and vulgar Luther ever wrote. To accompany it Luther commissioned a series of political cartoons by Lucas Cranach defaming the pope and Rome.

The man praised for taking a bold stand for freedom of conscience was positively bloodthirsty towards those whose consciences disagreed with his own. And he became crueler and more bloodthirsty, the longer he spent away from the Church.

3. Was Protestantism Founded by a Saint?

This is one of the most important questions that I think we can take away from this: do we have any reason to conclude from the evidence that Martin Luther was a Saint?
Within the same year, 1525, he both cautiously encouraged the peasant’s revolt as possibly of God, and called for everyone involved in the revolt to be killed, saying that they were all going to hell. Does that sound like someone being led by the Holy Spirit, or like those that St. Paul warns (Eph. 4:14) are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles”?
I understand that even Saints make mistakes, and that even Saints sin. I get that, really. Nobody is expecting that Luther be perfect. But it does seem to me that there’s a far cry from that platitude to saying that the guy who goes to his grave crying out for mass murder is a Saint.
I understand also that many modern Protestants feel no need to defend Luther (particularly if they’re not themselves Lutheran). But I’d challenge this. It seems to me that question ought to be massively important for those defending the Reformation. If the Reformation was started by someone led by intellectual pride, rather than the Holy Spirit, why trust it?
Protestant ecclesiology tends to hold that the Church is only the collection of the saved (we Catholics disagree, but that’s a question for another day). By this reasoning then, if Luther isn’t a Saint, he’s not even a member of the Church. So what does that make the denomination he started? How can Protestants count on someone outside the Church to reform and recreate the Church?
So these are the reasons that I raise these unpleasant bits of history. In doing so, I hope that I’ve been fair to Luther, while raising questions worthy of serious examination.

43 Comments

    1. Ha ha! Daniel, I am not sure if that is a “shout-out” or you calling me out. Either way, I will take the challenge. Thank you, Restless Pilgrim for calling for decency and decorum.

      Many Lutherans wrestle with this problem. Luther gets more angry, vulgar, and anti-Semitic as he gets older. The way I explain this is that Luther is like Elvis. Lutherans love the young Luther, just as Americans love and remember the young Elvis. We forget the older, bloated, and drugged up Elvis. (If you see that image of Luther above, then the comparison hits at the truth in many ways) Lutherans do not want to think about the older and angry Luther. His writings force us to remember the man for who he was and the place he came from (Luther is a product of his time and also shaped his time). That is not to justify him or let him off the hook, but we need to remember people in their actual historical locations. If there is hope for the Holy Spirit to work through a vulgar man like Luther, then there is hope that the Holy Spirit can work through me.

      My branch of Lutheranism (ELCA) will acknowledge this ugly truth and state that he was wrong in being so vulgar and hateful toward Jews. There are some branches of Lutheranism that embrace this hate and embrace the Anti-Roman ideas as well, which brings a bad name to all Christians. The Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation have come together on these topics to express regret over words and polemics used in the 16th century.

      We want to take an honest look at Luther, the late medieval world, and the church of that day. We do not want to whitewash history to make ourselves look better! Lutherans are the first people to step up and state the wrongs that our ancestors did, and we will be the first ones today to fight against oppression and abuse in our own church and in our culture. Matthew 7:3-5 Just Sayin’!

    2. Rev,

      I still have a hard time understanding his angry writings in his early life as well. And most astonishing is his adding and subtracting from the bible. He added the word alone to God’s word. That was early in his life. Then he doubled down about adding to God’s word, and like a petulant child claims he has a right to do so. That totally corrupts the bible. A”reformation” that corrupts the word of God which was supposedly so important to the “reformers” is ironic and sad.

    3. Tom, please see my comment on your post below. To claim that Luther “Corrupted” the word of God is intellectually dishonest. Luther translated the Bible from the original languages. Most Catholic church historians would not agree with your statements.

    4. He misinterpreted the Bible from the original languages. He explicitly and openly defended adding “alone” to the passage “the just shall live by faith” on the grounds that Dr. Martin Luther would have it so, and Catholics are donkey.s

      It is intellectually dishonest to say that this is anything other than corruption.

  1. “This is one of the most important questions that I think we can take away from this: do we have any reason to conclude from the evidence that Martin Luther was a Saint?”

    He certainly seems to be quite different from all of the Christian Saints before him, people such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict, St. Dominic, St. Bernard of Clairveaux, all of the Desert Fathers, St. Patrick, St. Anselm, St. Bede, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, not to mention all of the early fathers and martyrs. All of these have their lives, virtues and writings easily available for scrutiny and study.

    I can’t even imagine how anybody could compare Martin Luther to any one of these truly Christian saints?

    1. AWLMS, you list many great saints of our shared church history. I do take issue with Bernard of Clairvaux, who instigated and supported the Crusades. He is more polished than Luther in writing, but both men lived in violent times and supported violence. Luther was much more honest and real than Bernard. Luther expressed his sins, but he knew that he was a saint by the grace of God and not by his own works. You may also want to spell Clairvaux correctly next time.

    2. Rev,

      Can you please explain why liberating Christians from persecution and slavery is wrong? Especially in a feudal time where the glue of the various societies was the Church? Therefore, the only people able to rescue the persecuted were their fellow Christians.

    3. My whole point is that it is easy to trash Luther with 500 years separating us. It is just as easy (if not easier) to trash the Roman church for atrocities or things written in the past. I do not write blog posts trashing the Roman church because of the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or any other number of things. If we were all honest about the past of the church, then we can find many faults with our ancestors. We need to be aware of these mistakes and sins of the past, but we should not trash our brothers or sisters in Christ or whole faith traditions today because of what happened in the past. I have told Joe in the past that these kinds of posts are not as beneficial for defending the Roman faith as positive posts about the strengths of the Roman church, which I find interesting and encouraging. The strength of your faith should come by lifting up the gospel as the church lives it out and not by trashing others.

    4. Rev.Dark Hans,

      Just because Bernard of Clairvaux promoted the Crusades does not mean he wasn’t a great Saint and Doctor of the Church. And my admiration of him actually derives mostly from this very support that he gave to the crusades, and particularly by his small written work titled “In Praise of the New Knighthood”. What a beautiful and informative writing regarding the nature of just war this work is, and it’s especially useful in modern times for any who are members of the armed forces.

      When we review the history of Western Civilization, we cannot ignore the impact that Islam had on this history. And without great Catholic saints, and hero’s, all of Europe would have succumbed to the power of the various Islamic caliphates even as far back 732 AD when Charles Martel saved all of western Christianity from Moslem domination at the Battle of Tours. And it didn’t stop there. Joe just wrote a few weeks ago on the Battle of Lapanto (1571), and it’s importance for all of western Christianity. He also noted the many Protestant nations who not only did not help fight this great battle, but who were actually supporting the Islamic enemies of our Christian culture and civilization. So, by admiring these former saints and hero’s who saved Christianity many times over by the use of military means, we can easily understand how St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s writings on ‘just war’ could have had great value, not only for those very knights, soldiers and mariner’s who have defended Christian civilization throughout so many centuries, but moreover still have great value for our own soldiers still fighting similar battles against Islamic forces today.

      For those interested “In Praise of the New Knighthood” is available for reading on-line here:

      http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/bernard.html

    1. It is easy to trash Luther with 500 years separating us. It is just as easy (if not easier) to trash the Roman church for atrocities or things written in the past. I do not write blog posts trashing the Roman church because of the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or any other number of things. If we were all honest about the past of the church, then we can find many faults with our ancestors. We need to be aware of these mistakes and sins of the past, but we should not trash our brothers or sisters in Christ or whole faith traditions today because of what happened in the past. I have told Joe in the past that these kinds of posts are not as beneficial for defending the Roman faith as positive posts about the strengths of the Roman church, which I find interesting and encouraging. The strength of your faith should come by lifting up the gospel as the church lives it out and not by trashing others.

    2. Luther’s writings may be 500 years old, but the consequences of promulgating such ideas as public policy are only 70 years old. It is very difficult to read Luther’s writings without the lens of the Holocaust.

    3. Sean Davids,
      The pictures on that site are rather dubious. I realize that you used the word “apparently,” but you should be absolutely sure before making such accusations.
      The photo claiming to be of a statue of Hitler has some resemblance, but is not clear. Why is there only on picture from an obscure angle?
      Also, the photo claiming to be of Christ with a Nazi soldier is false. The person who published these pictures doesn’t know much about history. Or, is trying to deceive people.
      God Bless!

  2. I have always wondered why anyone would ever associate with this hateful person. He said miserable things about Catholics as well. He incited hate and violence. Another aspect about Luther is his breaking of his vows. Ideology aside, he still made vows, which even St Paul and Jesus praised….celibacy. Furthermore, he added and subtracted to the bible, and then doubled down on his adding the word “alone”, as if he had some right to do so. If you read his writings he comes off as severely narcissistic. How anyone could claim that he is some founder of new christian truth is beyond me. Yet there is an entire Christian denomination bearing his name.

    1. Tom, you are waaaaayyyy off! First, Catholics have said some very horrible things too, but that does not stop you from associating with them. Do not think that you or your faith tradition are perfect. Thankfully, the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have come together to renounce the hateful language of the Reformation days.
      Second, yes Luther broke his vows of celibacy. Remember that Jesus told us to never make vows! Matthew 5:33-37
      Third, Luther never added or subtracted from the Bible. Luther moved the Apocrypha (Deuterocannon as some would like to call it) to an appendix, just as St. Jerome did. Do you hate on St. Jerome? I doubt it because he is one of “your guys.” It was not until the King James translation (almost 100 years after the 95 Theses) that these works were completely cut out of the Bible.
      Fourth, you are blaming Luther for narcissism? In your post, you sit in the seat of judgment and look down up others for associating with Luther. This is “beyond” you because you are so righteous, brilliant, or amazing? Hey narcism pot, this is the kettle!
      Fifth, there are several Christian denominations that bear his name (not just one). Yet he personally fought against his name being used. The early “Lutherans” were called “Evangelical” because they would boldly proclaim the gospel in lands that had not heard it, and they should have kept that name. Luther did not want his name on it, but rather, he wanted the name of Christ.

    2. Rev. Your claims about vows are preposterous. Lutherans have no marriage vows?

      Catena Aurea

      3. Again you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform to the Lord your oaths;

      34. But I say to you, Swear not at all, neither by Heaven, for it is God’s throne;

      35. Nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

      36. Neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

      37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil.

      GLOSS.The Lord has taught to abstain from injuring our neighbor, forbidding anger with murder, lust with adultery, and the putting away a wife with a bill of divorce. He now proceeds to teach to abstain from injury to God, forbidding not only perjury as an evil in itself but even all oaths as the cause of evil, saying, You have heard it said by them of old, You shall not forswear yourself it is written in Leviticus, You shall not forswear yourself in My name (Lev 19:12); and that they should not make gods of the creature, they are commanded to render to God their oaths, and not to swear by any creature, Render to the Lord your oaths; that is, if you shall have occasion to swear, you shall swear by the Creator and not by the creature. As it is written in Deuteronomy, You shall fear the Lord your God, and shall swear by His name

      (Deut 6:13).

      JEROME; This was allowed under the Law, as to children; as they offered sacrifice to God, that they might not do it to idols, so they were permitted to swear by God; not that the thing was right, but that it were better done to God than to demons.

      AUG. Inasmuch as the sin of perjury is a grievous sin, he must be further removed from it who uses no oath, than he who is ready to swear on every occasion, and the Lord would rather that we should not swear and keep close to the truth, than that swearing we should come near to perjury.

      ID. This precept also confirms the righteousness of the Pharisees, not to forswear; inasmuch as he who swears not at all cannot forswear himself. But as to call God to witness is to swear, does not the Apostle break this commandment when he says several times to the Galatians, The things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not (Gal 1:20). So the Romans, God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit (Rom 1:9). Unless perhaps someone may say, it is no oath unless I use the form of swearing by some object; and that the Apostle did not swear in saying, God is my witness. It is ridiculous to make such a distinction; yet the Apostle has used even this form, I die daily, by your boasting. That this does not mean, ‘your boasting has caused my dying daily,’ but is an oath, is clear from the Greek.

    3. I figured someone would quickly bring this up. We need to understand that our modern “marriage vows” are not the same thing as the wedding practices of the first century world. Joe has posted about this before on the topic of Mary being “betrothed” or engaged to Joseph and what that means for a Jewish family in the first century. The Bible calls us to fidelity in marriage, of course! But we need to separate our culture from what the Bible actually calls us to, which is one of the hardest things to do when studying the Bible.

      Thank you Mighty Joe Young for actually reading what I wrote and thinking if it is right or not!

    4. Actually I am not waaaaayyyy off. Also, can we dispense with the drama please? I am not even off. I have never said anything that claims people in the Catholic Church are perfect. The difference is that the name of your church is Lutheran. Whether he wanted the name or not, and you still call yourself Lutheran. Think of it this way, if someone said racist things today, one wouldn’t associate with them. In Luther’s case, he said far worse by suggesting outright murder and mayhem, and instead of disassociating with him, there is a denomination named for him, and as you said yourself some people even revel in his anger. Now I realize that you and the LWF have renounced this, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot draw attention to the fact that a religious org, the Lutheran Church, which is in charge of helping people navigate their lives in faith, hope, and charity, bears the name of a hateful, anti Semitic, vow breaking, schismatic, and bible changing person.

      You say….

      Second, yes Luther broke his vows of celibacy. Remember that Jesus told us to never make vows! Matthew 5:33-37

      Um, you have yet to reveal how we shouldn’t make vows….did you make vows?

      You say…..

      Third, Luther never added or subtracted from the Bible. Luther moved the Apocrypha (Deuterocannon as some would like to call it) to an appendix, just as St. Jerome did. Do you hate on St. Jerome? I doubt it because he is one of “your guys.” It was not until the King James translation (almost 100 years after the 95 Theses) that these works were completely cut out of the Bible.

      Luther most certainly added and subtracted to the Holy Bible. That fact will never go away. Think of it this way, if I take the Gospel of John and remove it from the New Testament and put it in an appendix, I am toying with the way the Bible behaves and reads….bad stuff. This is from Jimmy Akin:

      The deuterocanonicals teach Catholic doctrine, and for this reason they were taken out of the Old Testament by Martin Luther and placed in an appendix without page numbers. Luther also took out four New Testament books—Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation—and put them in an appendix without page numbers as well. These were later put back into the New Testament by other Protestants, but the seven books of the Old Testament were left out. Following Luther they had been left in an appendix to the Old Testament, and eventually the appendix itself was dropped (in 1827 by the British and Foreign Bible Society), which is why these books are not found at all in most contemporary Protestant Bibles, though they were appendicized in classic Protestant translations such as the King James Version.

      Now, here you assume what I think about St. Jerome, the difference bw him and Martin Luther is that St. Jerome changed his opinion because it was in the minority, and said the opinion of the the Catholic Church is the truth. Luther had his opinion and everyone else was wrong, stupid or evil. Here is an article Joe wrote about this…..

      http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2010/06/st-jerome-on-deuterocanon.html

      Next, you have yet to address the fact that Luther added to the bible. Are you aware that he did this? He added the word “alone” in his bible translation in Romans 3:28. He admits it in his letter on translating. And my comment about how he comes off as narcisistic is based on his comments in that letter. I recommend reading it. Notice I didn’t say he is narcisistic? So that addresses your fourth point. You did call me narcisistic….Reverend. So now you know why I said he added to the bible.

      Point five I already addressed.

    5. I mean to put this paragraph at the front….

      Rev,

      I don’t understand why you seem angry at me, but I certainly don’t appreciate you accusing me of narcissism (I am a bad speller). You don’t know me. It is ironic that you are actually doing the exact same thing that you accuse me of. And yes, I will absolutely call out the evil things that Luther said, as I would hope you do with Catholics if they say evil things. And if that means that I think people should openly distance themselves from him because of those evil things that only makes sense. So please calm down with the sarcasm, Reverend (righteous, brilliant, amazing). I don’t claim any of these things. It is also ironic that you have many times shamed people for putting words in your mouth on this blog, yet essentially do the same thing to me. Everything I said was in good faith, and quite frankly is true.

    6. “Second, yes Luther broke his vows of celibacy. Remember that Jesus told us to never make vows! “

      Then why does Paul tell Timothy to make sure the enrolled widows are old? Because the younger ones will want to marry “and will incur condemnation for breaking their first pledge. “

    1. Your statement about Luther “thought that Jesus was not so much a Divine person but, rather, a composition of divinity and devil.” is not based upon fact. Luther was completely orthodox in his believe in the trinity and the incarnation. You may be confusing what Luther said about humanity, that we are simultaneously saint and sinner.

      It is easy to trash Luther with 500 years separating us. It is just as easy (if not easier) to trash the Roman church for atrocities or things written in the past. I do not write blog posts trashing the Roman church because of the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or any other number of things. If we were all honest about the past of the church, then we can find many faults with our ancestors. We need to be aware of these mistakes and sins of the past, but we should not trash our brothers or sisters in Christ or whole faith traditions today because of what happened in the past. I have told Joe in the past that these kinds of posts are not as beneficial for defending the Roman faith as positive posts about the strengths of the Roman church, which I find interesting and encouraging. The strength of your faith should come by lifting up the gospel as the church lives it out and not by trashing others.

  3. As regards The Inquisition, we Catholics were aught but walking in the footpath of Moses:

    Moses, the 1st inquisitor killed 23 thousand one day (Exodus 32)

    Moses, the 1st Inquisitor, Killed 24 thousand one day (Numbers 25) including all of the women and children

    Forty Seven Thousand killed by The First Inquisitor, Moses, in two days.

    Non-Catholic historian Edward Peters:, in his work, Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 87),

    The Spanish Inquisition, in spite of wildly inflated estimates of the numbers of its victims, acted with considerable restraint in inflicting the death penalty, far more restraint than was demonstrated in secular tribunals elsewhere in Europe that dealtwith the same kinds of offenses. The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts.

    250 years of The Inquisition – roughly 3000 bumped-off vs Moses who bumped-off 47,000 including children.

    I thought it opportune to parade a few facts by. I doubt one in one hundred million Christian Catholics, say nothing about Jews and Protestants and atheists, know the facts about Moses as the first Inquisitor and how his record compares unfavorable to Frey Tomas De Tourquemada, about whom the vast majority of Catholics are ignorant and so they consider it funny to hear his name and reputation continually blackened

    A William Thomas Walsh notes, “Moses put to death, in the name of religion, a far greater number of human beings than Torquemada did. Yet his name has been venerated by orthodox Jews and Roman Catholic alike, and alwys will be, while that of the Dominican monk has become a stench in the nostrils of the modern world, and a symbol of something indefensible.”
    (“Characters of the Inquisition.”)

    Far too many Christian Catholics internalise the prejudices of their enemies, then end-up reflexively echoing them when a “trigger” is experienced, and then end-up boasting it is all in good fun.

    Not me, when I read about , “Temple Police,” I think, Holy Moses!!!

  4. We need to understand that our modern “marriage vows” are not the same thing as the wedding practices of the first century world

    Rev. You’ve changed the matter under discussion. You’ve gone from claiming a prohibition against vows to a discussion of different marriage practices; that is, you are trying to sneak away from your claim concerning vows.

    Can’t say that I blame ya 🙂

  5. I suspect that most people today would agree with Luther completely on these points: treating the Jews in such a vile way was both unchristian and counter-productive (at least, if one is actually concerned about their eternal salvation)

    M.J disagrees. What the Popes did vis a vis the Jews was fair and just.

    M.J fails to see how unjustly condemning the approach of the Popes to the Jews benefits any man

    1. Are you speaking in the third person for some reason? (Or, why is M.J. speaking about himself in third person?)

      And the papal record on Jews is mixed, but generally-good. But that doesn’t deny the fact that there was a lot of Catholic Jew-hating, and that Luther was right to call us out on it.

  6. 2 Thess 2 anticipated men like Luther:

    10 And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish: because they receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe a lie.

    11 That all may be judged, who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.

  7. More on the foibles of Martin Luther:
    “a young woman can do without a man as little as she can do without eating, drinking, sleeping, or other natural requirements. Nor can a man do without a woman”
    (Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops falsely so called; 163 http://pastebin.com/mnCfxcpT )
    .
    Here, therefore, Martin Luther posits that it is impossible for a man or woman to do without the sex act.

    What arrogance; and what insult to the many who have faithfully offered a life of prayerful and chaste celibacy to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus!

    What insult to Prophet Elijah!
    What insult to Prophet Elisha!
    What insult to Prophet Jeremiah!
    What insult to John the Baptist!
    What insult to the widow Anna!
    What insult to the daughters of Phillip the Evangelist!
    What insults to so many holy servants of God!

    What about Agnes, Lucy, Agatha, Margaret Mary, Mary Frances, Gertrude, Catherine, Theresa, Francis Assisi, Dominic Guzman, Aquinas, to mention but a few.
    What arrogance from the man with the 95 theses! And what heavy burden is carried by all who follow in the footsteps of this rebel!
    Read more:
    http://popeleo13.com/pope/2014/11/03/category-archive-message-board-165-errors-of-martin-luther-1/
    http://popeleo13.com/pope/2014/11/04/category-archive-message-board-166-errors-of-martin-luther-2/
    http://popeleo13.com/pope/2014/11/06/category-archive-message-board-168-errors-of-martin-luther-3/

  8. Luther’s behavior has been studied by many scholars, and nearly all of them came to the conclusion that the man suffered from bipolar disorder. One only has to read his writings over a period of time to see the wild mood swings he exhibits. He also had a life long obsession with excrement. This man, like Mohammed, was a mental case. And to think that millions of people in the West believe and follow the teaching of a lunatic like this!

  9. Rev. Dark Hans,

    True, Catholic have committed horrible sins. But the Catholic Church doe not teach that it is okay to commit horrible sins. You can separate the Church from the sin.
    It is different with Luther. He taught horrible things. He said Christ committed adultery. He said the Bible was good with a man having two wives. You cannot separate him from his doctrine. He taught against good works and he lived according to his teaching. He didn’t do any good works. He broke his vows and he taught others to do so. Unlike the Catholic hypocrite, Luther practiced what he preached.

  10. We know that the Koran contains Satanic Verses but few know the Satanic Verses of Lutheran Theology. Luther recalled how the devil visited him at night and convinced Luther that his celebrating of Mass was idolatry..

    Catholics adhere to Divine Revelation, Luthernas to Demonic interventions

  11. Most Catholics who belong to holy societies, or religious orders, have been drawn towards these societies largely through the writings, virtues and charisms exhibited in the lives of their founders. Friars Minor follow the rule and charism of St. Francis, Friars Preachers, the rule and charism of St. Dominic, Benedictines, the rule and charism of St. Benedict, etc… And, always, the sayings and examples of the founders are an essential, and unifying, guide for those belonging to these societies and orders. And so, every detail both of action and word are scrutinized by the members and followers so as to draw close to these founding saints and fathers. In many ways these followers are like those who heard and followed St. Paul when he was preaching to them, and to whom he said: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Important here, is that they not only ‘listened’ to St. Paul, but were admonished to ‘imitate’ him, and for the reason that they might then also imitate and draw closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    What beautiful examples do we find in these holy Saints and founders of the multitudes of religious orders throughout the centuries! How many volumes of writings did they leave for all future ages to read and learn by! What charity, modesty and humility they portrayed in their devout actions, written prayers and sacrifices! And how easily can they be recognized for what they really are…that is ‘Saints’ and great Servants of God!

    So it is actions and virtuous deeds, and not just words, that are important in the Christian life, and this is especially true for those who would presume to take on the role of teacher, or shepherd, in the Lord’s Church.

    Now, compare the examples of these many holy founders, Doctors and canonized Saints, to the examples and words left to us by Martin Luther, both by his writings and examples. Even his followers in the many Lutheran Churches…those who have taken the time to carefully read his life and writings, cannot easily recommend him as a model for imitation by others. How unlike these other great Catholic Saints he was, in both word and example! What a foul and vulgar mouth he had…that not even a child should be allowed to hear or read!

    So, as a founder of a large religious movement, Martin Luther can in no way be compared to others who have likewise started similar Christian institutions throughout history. To compare Luther to St.Francis of Assisi, or to St. Dominic, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Benedict, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Francis of Paola, St. John Bosco, St. Philip Neri, etc… is not really possible. He is too profane and vulgar, in both his words and his actions, to be even be put in the same category as these other Saints of the Church. For the Lord in His Holy Gospel does not teach us to merely listen to Him, or teach about Him… but rather, to put His words and examples into practice in our lives. For a Christian examples are essential. Moreover, the greatest example of Christ that we can put into practice in our lives is love and kindness for one another, and even for our enemies, even as Jesus teaches: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” And also, “..love your enemies”.
    Did Martin Luther have this virtue? Did he show love for his enemies?

    Everyone should read the lives and writings of these great Catholic Saints above. You will certainly be able to recognize them as true disciples of Christ… and that is by their great love, even as the Lord said.

  12. I read sometime ago that Luther became a priest only to satisfy his father’s dream of having a son become a priest. In addition, I read where Luther suffered from some serious digestive ailments that plagued him all through his adult life causing much embarrassment. I believe these conditions were most likely psychosomatic. He has the souls of those he diverted from the Truth on his head.

  13. How the Church and world might have been different had Martin Luther been inspired to seek out for consultation a fellow religious of his time by the name of Francis of Paola! St. Francis of Paola was very famous at this time for his deep faith, incredible miracles and accurate prophesies in both Italy and France. Francis and his order of “Minums”, least brothers, lived a perpetual lent (and fast), and one of these companions, Fr. Bernard Boyl, accompanied Christopher Columbus in his maritime journeys and became the first missionary priest to step foot in the Americas on Nov. 22, 1493.

    Anyone who reads the life of Francis of Paola cannot be but astounded by his incredible life of faith and love! He also lived a long time, to the age of 91, dying in 1507.

    Had Martin Luther encountered St. Francis of Paola…only God knows how he would have benefitted, both spiritually and physically! But certainly, a few good lessons on fasting and a meatless diet would have helped with those “digestive ailments that plagued him all through his adult life”!

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