Martin Luther anti-semitic?

Is it true that Martin Luther advised his followers to:

“Burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs.”???

He certainly made some anti-semetic remarks, but when you look at history we Catholics have had a slew of morally grotesque popes.

It would be an easy case to make, in regards to Luther being anti-semetic, as a prosecuting attorney though!

I have read a lot about Martin Luther and never anything like that, and from what I have read have a very difficult time believing that of him. Can I ask where it comes from? thank you.

I guess you’re right, I wasn’t bringing this up to run a smear-campaign against Protestant faiths, but the intensity of this quote I think was… Troubling.

Certainly. Another thing that shocked me was that it wasn’t even from a Catholic source:…-of-the-bible/


I can answer that. Do a search for Luther’s** On the Jews and Their Lies**. It’s such an offensive work, I will not link it. It’s easy to find online.

Hitler quoted Luther’s work to help justify his atrocities against the Jews.


thank you, the above link didn’t work, I will find it myself.:slight_smile:

Let me know what you think. I was rather shocked the first time I read On the Jews and Their Lies. I have noticed that many Christian Bookstores only carry books that contain selected works of Martin Luther.


If we look back through 2000 years of Christian history, there is plenty of blame to go around. Many terrible things were done in the name of Christianity.


My understanding is that his anti-judaism (not anti-semitic, as his rants of this nature was againstthe religion, not the race) is rather near the end of his life, when they wre not convinced regarding Christianity outside the papacy.
His anti-judaism was not in vacuum as has been pointed out. It was pervasive within the Church in europe in his era. Johann Ecke wrote similar anti-jewish thoughts in his books, Refutation of a Jew-Book.

Lutherans categorically reject these writings, as do Catholics.


Sigh, be careful pointing fingers when we may have some skeletons as well.

And that’s a good point. I think that two things can easily happen (well, more than two, but we’ll limit it for this discussion :D). First, it’s easy for people to think of their heroes as flawless. I certainly did in my Protestant days. For me (back then), Calvin never did anything wrong, and Luther basically never did either. It’s tough to discover writings like these and reconcile them with one’s image of the man himself. Figuring out where to go from there can be painful and confusing. It’s good to remember that the Confession is separate from the man.

Second, writings like these provide “low-hanging fruit” for rival apologists. Despite the fact that Lutherans obviously don’t promote or support Luther’s opinions in this matter - just as Calvinists don’t try to recreate the government of Geneva and Zwinglians don’t carry battleaxes :smiley: - it’s all too easy to take cheap shots based on writings like this. When one’s own tradition has both high and low points, one sees the wisdom in avoiding these cheap shots. Lutherans and the various Lutheran bodies have nothing to do with this log in Luther’s own eye, which was probably shaped by biases of time and place. Thus, any dialogue ought to be based on legitimate theological positions, rather than the unfortunate polemics of the past.

I think this is very wise and insightful. As I said before there is plenty of blame to go around, when we look back. No one can really “cast the first stone.”

Many Christians are unaware of their own history. I was one of them for many years. I grew up in Southern Baptist Churches. When I finally studied the origin of the SBC, I was shocked by what I found.

I think looking back keeps us humble; but I don’t think dragging out the dirt of the past to point fingers at one another serves any good purpose. It certainly does not advance the Gospel, IMHO.


To begin with Martin Luther was not anti-semitic but he became so later on, quite extreme actually.
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"”.

You can of course discuss why he became so hateful towards them, some people claim that it was because he was unable to convert them to Christianity. I don’t know if that is true, but on the other hand he said some bad things about Erasmus of Rotterdam and claimed that he was not even a Christian because he disagreed with him, at least according to the wikipedia article about ‘‘On the bondage of the will’’. Today Lutherans generally don’t share his view on the subject though so I don’t think you can use it as an argument against them.

I completely agree, here, Indiana. On your first first part, Lutherans need to be weel educated in the fact that Luther was not more than human, that he said and wrote things that none or few of us would ever agree with. additionally, it is imprtant for non-Lutherans to understand that Lutheranism is not a faith based on Luther, but on Christ. It bothers me when apologists zero in on the personal flaws of leaders, as these are not the issues that make a difference. The current issue of priest abuse of boys, for example, is not a tool with which to attack the Catholic Church, as these are the actions of individual men, whether they be priests, or bishops who covered it up. The CC does not teach this behavior, and therefore is not an apology issue, ISTM.

Lutherans may call Luther “the Blessed Reformer”, but that’s a theologcal compliment, not a snow job of his obvious flaws as a sinner.


Only people with no theological arguments would use Luther’s “anti-Semitism” against him.

I greatly respect Lutheranism. True Lutheranism, not this liberal nonsense coming out of the ELCA lately.

Thank you. And the other way around, as well.


The effect of losing ground to Islam for about eight centuries led to extreme positions and a very strong strain of loyalty testing. Each of the Crusades began with massacre and sacking of European Jewish villages and properties. The theology of the time followed the practices of the various movements. As others have mentioned, modern Christians reject many of the positions that were held at the end of the fifteenth century.
Just as Catholics in the US have gotten used to being called Roman Catholics, we Lutherans have accepted this label for the convenience of others. Luther would have preferred the Churches of the Augsburg Confession, You can call us that if you like, but you will find Lutheran is just easier.

Have you read the book by Martin Luther, the Jews and their lies?

He wrote that after he read the Talmud,the Talmud obviously had an impact on him other wise,I figure he would not have made various claims in his book,

here are some extracts from the book,the Jews and their lies…

“I maintain that in three fables of Aesop there is more wisdom to be found than in all the books of the Talmudists and rabbis and more than ever could come into the hearts of the Jews . . .”

"They are the real liars and bloodhounds, who have not only perverted and falsified the entire Scriptures from beginning to end and without ceasing with their interpretations. And all of the anxious sighing, longing and hoping of their hearts is directed to the time when some day they would like to deal with us heathen as they dealt with the heathen in Persia at the time of Esther . . . "

“A person who does not know the Devil, might wonder why they are so at enemity with the Christians above all others; for which they have no reason, since we only do good to them.”

“If a thief steals ten gulden he must hang; if he robs people on the highway, his head is gone. But a Jew, when he steals ten tons of gold through his usury, is dearer than God himself!”

“Do not their TALMUD and rabbis write that it is no sin to kill if a Jew kills a heathen, but it is a sin if he kills a brother in Israel? It is no sin if he does not keep his oath to a heathen. Therefore, to steal and rob (as they do with their moneylending) from a heathen, is a divine service . . . And they are the masters of the world and we are their servants – yea, their cattle!”

“Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.”

“. . . Christ and His Word can hardly be recognized because of the great vermin of human ordinances. However, let this suffice for the time being on their lies against doctrine or faith.”

Are you defending this???


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit