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In one of my Psychology courses today we discussed Martin Luther...

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by Matt Faith, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Matt Faith

    Matt Faith Regular Member

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    And my professor said the he hated Jewish people and said that he believed if you wife isn't pleasing you sexually, you should go outside the marriage for satisfaction. Is this true? I was just surprised because I never knew this, its kind of unsettling....
     
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  2. KEPLER

    KEPLER Crux sola est nostra theologia

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    Mr. Bizkit,

    There is no denying that Luther said unkind things about Jewish people. While there is no excusing what he said, his statements must be put in their historical context, to wit:

    1) Luther wasn't the only person saying bad things about the Jews; it was pretty much common practice.

    2) Luther's comments about the Jews are not the worst comments made about them. Erasmus of Rotterdam (the noted Humanist scholar, and Luther's verbal sparring partner in the debate over the freedom of the will) said far worse things about them.

    3) Luther did not dislike Jewish people insofar as they were people; he had many friends and colleagues who had been born into the Jewish faith, but had converted to Christianity. For Luther, it's not a racial or ethnic thing, it's a religious thing, and only a religious thing.

    4) Luther was quite old when he wrote the things he wrote. It is pretty evident from his other writings (along with these) that his mental faculties had lapsed a great deal.

    Having said all of that, from our modern sensibilities, Luther still ought not have said what he said. His statements are detestable.

    As for looking outside of marriage for sexual satisfaction, this is a canard which is repeated over and over again. It's based on a statement which is taken out of context, and which must be deliberately misread in order for people to make it say what it quite clearly does not say.

    Luther is known for penchant for overstating a case in order to make his point. The greatest example of this was his statement to his friend Philip Melanchthon. Melanchthon was a timid man, who worried a lot. Today we would probably prescribe him some SSRIs. He worried constantly that he had sinned too much, or that he had committed so great a sin that God wouldn't forgive him. Luther said to him, "When you sin, SIN BOLDLY, and then go boldly to the cross and confess it." This statement, more than any other, is taken out of context for Luther --- usually by Southern Baptists.

    It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to see that Luther is NOT - in fact - encouraging Philip to sin, but that he is reminding him that there is no power greater than God's grace demonstrated in the cross of Christ. To fear that God can't or won't forgive is to insult God.

    As for studying Luther in a psychology class... Well, there is ample evidence that Luther was probably what we call today a 'Manic depressive.' If the instructor is going that route, just bear in mind that there is no correlation between manic depression and insanity or psychosis. Perfectly sane and brilliant people can suffer from this disorder.

    Cheers,

    Kepler
     
  3. doulos_tou_kuriou

    doulos_tou_kuriou Located at the intersection of Forde and Giertz

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    Psycho-historians have not been kind to Luther. I personally do not like the process of taking documents to determine things about a person. I wish I could remember now, but I read one such thing on Luther in college that to me is a bit presumptuous.

    The above statement says it well. Luther is often taken out of context and out of century in these accusations. Not only was Luther not the only one saying horrible things against the Jewish faith, but it was attacks on the faith and not the ethnicity of Jews. Luther for one thought that Jews remained as they were due to the poor proclamation of the gospel by the church. He figured that once the gospel was freed and preached fully the Jews would naturally convert. When they did not he saw them as an enemy to the faith. Luther wrote horrible things about protestants and Catholics too, but that is overlooked. Only because of the Holocaust is his statements about Jews lifted up (in fact he is quoted I believe at the door to the Holocaust museum, a sign of the gross misconception of his writings). But also because antisemitics used his writings out of context too against Jewish ethnicity.
    Again, it is not excusing his harshness or cruel thoughts, but it's about understanding them in their context more properly. Did he still say horrible things? Yes. Fortunately, Luther is not God nor is he in all things infallible.
    I'm not sure about the outside of marriage reference your professor is getting that from, though it too is probably out of context. Considering that Luther called for marriage of priests to curb reckless "pleasuring" and horrid things being done by priests and monastics at the time due to the celibacy vows it seems that the way the professor put it is likely not accurate.
     
  4. QuiltAngel

    QuiltAngel Veteran

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  5. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    Luther's comments regarding the "Jews" were directed more toward adherents of Judaism and not the Jewish race.
     
  6. lux et lex

    lux et lex light and law

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    “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"" --Martin Luther


    Sounds like he didn't want them converting either...
     
  7. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    It might be interesting to know where that quote comes from.

    Also, if in Luther's terms, the word 'Jew' refers to an adherent of Judaism, then he wouldn't be referring to a convert to Christianity (in which case they would no longer be "Jews") but to a convert to Judaism.
     
  8. doulos_tou_kuriou

    doulos_tou_kuriou Located at the intersection of Forde and Giertz

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    see quiltangel's post regarding Luther and Jews. There is a specific section on quotes of his taken out of context and that is one of them. Reading it alone shows it in a much different light.
     
  9. Warrior for Christ

    Warrior for Christ New Member

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    Lutherans don't consider Luther to be a figure on the level of Paul, or the Disciples. What Luther was good for was restoring the Church back to its Biblical roots. Luther's intellectual contribution can be helpful, but nothing he said overrides the Bible. In that Luther did not live a perfect life and sinned, that is something to take into context when one considers his life as a whole.
     
  10. Matt Faith

    Matt Faith Regular Member

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    Thanks everybody for the replies. But did he really encourage sex outside of marriage or is that not true?
     
  11. DaRev

    DaRev Well-Known Member

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    No.
     
  12. BigNorsk

    BigNorsk Contributor

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    It's never very surprising to me that amateurs misread Luther. It is a bit surprising, though not very, that such an amateur is teaching a college course using Luther.

    The thing you should really note is that the college you are attending doesn't have the best teachers in the world.

    Assuming of course that the teacher isn't taken out of context by you. For instance the teacher may be using a series of famous people and making rather outrageous remarks about them in order to stimulate you and the other bumps in your class to actually do some work and study.

    Marv
     
  13. Nemo Neem

    Nemo Neem 1 John 4:7-12

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    John Wesley suffered with depression and had anger issues; this does not make him any less of a great theologian.

    I think Martin Luther is very insightful, and a very interesting person. I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  14. doulos_tou_kuriou

    doulos_tou_kuriou Located at the intersection of Forde and Giertz

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  15. reckoner13

    reckoner13 Newbie

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    Why is the church named after him??? Why not change the name of the church, I don't care that "Others" were saying bad things about "Jews" at the time, that is no excuse for the horrible things Luther wrote.
     
  16. Aibrean

    Aibrean Honest. Maybe too Honest.

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    The opponents used the term "Lutheran" as an insult and it stuck. Luther didn't want them called that.

    We are all sinners. Never forget.
     
  17. whitetiger1

    whitetiger1 Well-Known Member

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    Kind of like in Antioch with the believers, they were called Christian as an insult but it stuck and now were Christians :)
     
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