Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Endl"sung

A mighty fortress is our God never failing…” I love that song and the passion for the Word the man who wrote it professed: “My conscience is so bound and captivated in these Scriptures and the Word of God. … Hereupon I stand and rest: I have not what else to say. … turning to the emperor and the nobles … confirmed …’I am tied by the Scriptures.’... Before the Diet of Worms was dissolved, Charles V caused an edict to be drawn up … that Martin Luther be … henceforward looked upon … separated from the Church, a schismatic, and an obstinate and notorious heretic” (John Foxe, William Byron Forbush ed., Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, IX).

Despite Luther’s alleged passion for the Scriptures, he often compromised them: Regarding The Epistle of James, Luther writes: “Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it” (Luther, M., Preface To The New Testament, 1522, emphasis added). Regarding The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Luther writes: “I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. … Christ is neither taught nor known in it” (Luther, M. Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522, emphasis added). However, regarding Paul’s love for his Jewish brethren in the book of Romans: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises,” from Luther, there is only silence. Although Romans is the crux of his “by faith alone” theology, in his commentary (Romans 9 through 11), an affirmation of Paul’s kinsmen according to the flesh is neglected entirely. Luther translated thousands of His promises and blessings for Israel as a people and a nation into the German tongue. However, consistent with his Augustinian order, Luther spiritualized them all, and consequently composed perhaps the most anti-Semitic work ever written:

What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? … 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. … Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. … 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. … Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. … Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. … Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them. … 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 (Martin Luther, Martin H. Bertram, tr., The Jews and their Lies, 1543).
Almost five hundred years later another German read and implemented Luther’s seven step program, but added one step more: The Endl"sung (Final Solution: Wannsee Conference, Berlin, January 20, 1942).

No comments: