Hah, what a joke, right? I mean, Martin Luther didn’t actually say that.
Right? Guys? …. Bueller?
*Cue the pin-drop sound effect.
I was doing some seemingly unrelated reading about Martin Luther a couple days ago when I came across the very quote we were joking about a little while back right here on theophiliacs. It makes for a funny sign (almost), until you discover the guy who penned this little phrase was Martin Luther himself, and that he actually meant it.
So unfortunately, it’s not a joke, and even more unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.
Luther follows that up with things like:
“There is, on earth, among all dangers, no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason. Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.”
So apparently I’m a huge danger since I use my brain-meat to make rational choices. And so are you guys.
*Cue the Oh-no-he-didn’t sound byte.
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You know, quite frankly, I’m sick of feeling like this. It’s like I’m one of the people in the crowd as the Emperor walks by with his cash and prizes hanging out for all to see, and some little kid is saying, “He’s naked, he’s naked! The Emperor is naked! Why won’t anybody listen to me?”
And I reply, “What are you talking about, kid? That’s best looking outfit I’ve I’ve ever seen!”
Then I come across some blasphemous headline in the paper the following week. No doubt shocked that the story says the emperor was, in fact, buck-naked, I take it upon myself to do some research of my own and prove that the article is a lie.
At which point it only gets worse.
In fact, as I am writing this, an article over at Unreasonable Faith posted yesterday morning came up in my keyword search for Martin Luther quotes, and that article happens to be along the same lines as what I’ve been finding out for myself the last few days.
Turns out Martin Luther was also quite anti-Semitic;
“Perhaps the Jews sent their servants with plates of silver and pots of gold to gather up Judas’ piss with the other treasures, and then they ate and drank his offal…”
“They [Jews] should be knocked to pieces, strangled and stabbed, secretly and openly, by everybody who can do it.”
Not surprisingly, based on those quotes and scores of others, but quite surprisingly to myself and doubtless many of you reading this now; the Nazi Reich Church of Hitler’s Germany based a lot of their anti-Semitic ideals on Luther’s writings and belief’s. The Protestant Bishop Martin Sasse lauded Luther as the “greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”
*Cue the jaw-hitting-the-floor sound effect.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe that this anti-intellectual “Reason is the greatest enemy…” quote was really something Martin Luther would preach, not when I first read it. And so, like a good, (brainwashed?) Christian boy I assumed it was the work of some paranoid, doubt-mongering atheist trying to smear Luther’s good name. I mean, the man who prompted the translation of the bible into readable languages? The Father of the Reformation? The man who gave us A Mighty Fortress is Our God? (Okay, bad example.) You mean to tell me that guy was a Jew-hating, reason-bashing masochist. Oh, I won’t even go in to the masochism stuff, suffice it to say I’m blown away by the fact that anyone ever followed this guy in the first place.
And I’ve also been reading about how the Lutheran church has historically been doing their best to keep more racists from using these ideas of Luther’s against Jews, especially since WWII. So, it’s something they just want to keep quiet?
Isn’t that like saying, “Well, our founding father was one of the biggest Jew haters of his time, and apparently an inspiration to the likes of Hitler and, ipso facto, a post-humous sponsor of the Holocaust…. but hey, some good came of it, too. Our priests can drink.”
*Cue the dramatic montage, set to cheesy I-don’t-know-what’s-right-anymore music.
Did Martin Luther do some good things? I’d still like to think so. I mean, the church would not look the way it does today were it not for his questioning of Catholicism. But I also have to reassess all of those things light of this new information. (New to me, that is.) He represents the primary historical branch from the Catholic church, which I’ve always believed was a good thing, but also represents a primary historical advocate of violence against the Jewish people, which I’ve always believed was a bad thing.
Sadly, it seems like the only way to avoid this sort of ongoing disappointment for a critical thinker like me is to stop reading anything that isn’t written primarily as a defense of Christianity. But once I turn my mind off to the other side of the argument and opposing viewpoints, haven’t I stopped reasoning and began looking only for support for belief simply because I want to believe? And wouldn’t I be doing exactly that which I took issue with just days ago, as spelled out in that anti-intellectual quote itself?
Or is reason truly faith’s greatest enemy, after all?
I’m dying here, guys. It’s just killing me. Honestly, I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath. But I wonder, are we sure the baby’s even there to begin with?
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(If you want a pretty decent and ‘relatively’ unbiased synopsis of his life, writings and thoughts, check the article over at wikipedia, which cites almost 200 references. A lot of it was familiar, even to me, a non-Lutheran, until I got down to the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism section.)