Lutherans/On the Jews and Their Lies

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Question
Dear Mr. Eldred, You have never answered my question of why Martin Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies" is not taught about in church.
Also the fact that Luther was a very vulgar person. Certainly honesty is expected in church history. Please reply

Answer
Charles:

My apologies.  I took much this post-Easter week off and neglected to answer your initial question.

Luther's treatise, "On the Jews and Their Lies" is admittedly a problematic work. It represents a racist view that is hard to swallow.  Another equally difficult writing his is work against the rebelling peasants where he advocates having the prices destroy them all.

Luther was not a perfect person by any means.  As he grew older he grew more angry and crotchety. It is not an excuse, but a possible explanation as to the vehemence is that these works were written in his latter years.

Luther was also a product of his times and his culture.  The Germany of the Reformation was a much crasser place than our day, and less cultured than places such as France or Italy (although they were much more vulgar that we would be comfortable with).  Germans were seen as a bit uncouth by the French and Italians, and Luther certainly exhibits many of those characteristics. He is vulgar at times.  He is earthy and crass. He is also fully aware of his own shortcomings, his sins, and his need for a Savior.

When you say these things are not taught in church, I would answer, "Why not?"  An adult class or confirmation class is a perfect time in which to talk openly and honestly about a human being who truly inspired in many ways to do, write, and preach some of the more marvelous ideas since the Scripture, but who was also, by his own estimation, "a rotten bag of bones."  I certainly teach Luther in this way, highlighting both his high and low points.  As you say, this is honest historical inquiry and I believe that we owe it to people (and to Luther, who was horrified that the Reformation churches were being called, "Lutheran.") to show Martin Luther for all he was, warts and all.  After all, we are all simultaneously saints and sinners and our only Lord and Savior is Jesus.

Thank you for your question, again, I apologize for my tardiness in answering.
Rev. Martin Eldred

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Martin W. Eldred

Expertise

I have been a Lutheran Christian for 55 years and a Lutheran pastor for almost 27. I can answer most general questions about Luther, Lutheran History, Lutheran Theology, and a Lutheran approach to Biblical Interpretation. I am ELCA, for those who know what that means, and I tend to be moderate theologically. I hope that I can converse with those that are either more conservative or liberal than I, and especially with those who are really just seeking.

Experience

Pastors are "generalists" and generally have a working knowledge on many subjects. We are also used to working with a variety of answers from a variety of people. I teach a great deal, especially in the area ofthe New Testament. I particulalry enjoy the Pauline literature.

Organizations
I have been a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, an international gathering of biblical scholars and teachers, since the late 1980s.

Publications
I have written a few book reviews for the journal, "Lutheran Quarterly."

Education/Credentials
I have a B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University in Religion (Biblical Studies)and a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary, and I am currently completing a PhD in New Testament.

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