“But the tragicomedy became purest tragedy when, three years before his death, Luther advocated actions against the Jews that included, among other things, setting fire to their synagogues and schools, destroying their houses , confiscating their prayer books, taking their money, and putting them into forced labor. One may only imagine what Luther’s younger self would have thought of such statements . But Goebbels and the other Nazis rejoiced that Luther’s ugliest ravings existed in writing, and they published them and used them with glee, and to great success, giving the imprimatur of this great German Christian to the most un-Christian and— one can only assume —demented ravings. The hundreds of thousands of sane words he had written were of little interest to the men in brown.”
Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: A Biography (p. 93). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
If you’re feeling shock and grief over this chapter, it would be appropriate. Hitler has not taken centerstage yet, so we will no doubt feel this again. This week, though, we face the good, the bad, and the ugly in the life of Martin Luther. As his health “unraveled” he seemed to unravel too. You have to read the chapter for details but it raises some good questions for discussion.
Do we constantly check what our leaders and teachers are saying against Scripture?
Is it important for leaders to have accountability to others? How can that be achieved?
What kind of accountability do you have in your own life?
Do we realize the power of words and are we very careful with how we use them?
Should a wise friend have burned Luther’s anti-semitic writings?