Reformation

The failure of Martin Luther

Martin Luther Alan Hirsch is right: Martin Luther's record of anti-semitism was deplorable.

Towards the end of his life in, “On the Jews and their Lies” (1543), he wrote:

Jews' synagogues should be set on fire, prayerbooks destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes “smashed and destroyed,” property seized, money confiscated, and that these “poisonous envenomed worms” be drafted into forced labor or expelled “for all time.” Wikipedia

His stance is not only contrary to Scripture but also to his own writings as shown in the original quote:

Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ’Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.’ But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear. The Word is almighty, and takes captive the hearts.

Luther teaches us that even a great founder (as he was) can fall (as he did). Luther was a great founder. We can learn from his greatness and we can be warned by his failure to finish well.

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Heart of a founder: Martin Luther

Martin Luther Summa summarum: Drink beer and let the Word do the work.

“Summa summarum,” said Luther, “I will preach, speak, write, but I will force no one; for faith must be voluntary. Take me as an example. I stood up against the Pope, indulgences, and all papists, but without violence or uproar. I only urged, preached, and declared God’s Word, nothing else.

And yet while I was asleep, or drinking Wittenberg beer with my Philip Melanchthon and Amsdorf, the Word inflicted greater injury on popery than prince or emperor ever did. I did nothing, the Word did every thing.

Had I appealed to force, all Germany might have been deluged with blood; yea, I might have kindled a conflict at Worms, so that the Emperor would not have been safe. But what would have been the result? Ruin and desolation of body and soul. I therefore kept quiet, and gave the Word free course through the world.

Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: ’Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.’ But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear. The Word is almighty, and takes captive the hearts.”

Source: Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume VII. Modern Christianity. The German Reformation, 494.

The great movement founders let God do the work.

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