The Protestant Reformation
9-3-17 Psalm 147:19-20 Lesson 11
I was wondering if we were going to have a church today. I’m glad some people are here. Now I know how Noah felt when he got out of the ark and looked around and tried to figure out what in the heck happened. I guess God told Noah what was going to happen, right; God didn’t tell me what was going to happen. Maybe you guys have a special prophecy you want to share.
Speaking of prophecy let’s open up to Psalm 147:19-20. We’re continuing to move through our study on The Protestant Reformation because you’re going to start hearing a lot about it pretty quick because we’re coming up on October 31st being the date when the whole thing started 500 years ago. So to kind of give us a perspective on this unique historical event here’s the outline we’re following.
We talked about the early church, and what they handed off to the first generation of Christians following the apostles, which as we’ve tried to document very carefully is a literal approach to the Bible, including prophecy. So that dominates the church for two centuries after the apostles leave the scene but what happens after that is down south in Alexandria, Egypt. Because of the influence of Gnosticism and other things they developed what we would call an allegorical method of interpretation and we’ve explained carefully what that is. And we don’t believe allegorization is the correct way to understand the Bible for the simple reason that you’re reading into the Bible things that really aren’t there. And we’ve gone through the reason why allegorical interpretation basically took off and captured the hearts and minds of Christianity for over a millennium.
So that plummets us into the Dark Ages, and you see, without this background you can’t really appreciate what the Reformers did. The Dark Ages is a period of time which I would say lasted from about the 4th the century all the way up until the 16th century. And really the bottom line to the Dark Ages is the Bible is removed from the people and any time the Bible is removed from the people because of allegorization or illiteracy or whatever you know that the devil is behind that because the devil always opposes God’s Word. In fact, back in Genesis 3 the very first lie that Satan spoke to the human race dealt with an attack on God’s Word, “did God say.”
That’s the predicament that Christendom finds itself in for a big chunk of church history. So what happens is God raises up a movement called the Protestant Reformation. They didn’t call themselves the Protestant Reformation, they didn’t even know what the term Protestant Reformation meant but in hind sight we can see that it was a work of the Holy Spirit which was a protest movement against what the Roman Catholic Church at that time was doing in terms of making the Bible inaccessible to people and abusing the sheep through money-making schemes. And what the Reformers did was monumental because they restored to the church the authority of the Scripture over and above church tradition in certain areas, and those areas we call the five solas and we’ve gone through those carefully and in depth.
And most of your presentations that you’re going to get coming up this fall from media or books or pastors might devote a message or two to the Protestant Reformation; they will probably stop the story there but I’m not stopping it there; I’m moving into Roman numeral V because the Protestant Reformation continued, it continued on in the work that the Reformers left untouched.
We’re at Roman numeral V where I’m trying to explain to people, and this is a difficult subject for people because a lot of folks, because of the great sacrifice that the Protestant Reformers made have put the Protestant Reformers on some sort of a pedestal where I don’t think they belong. In fact, I really don’t think any man belongs on a pedestal. The only person that belongs on that pedestal is the Lord Jesus Christ.
So there’s sort of a tendency within Christendom, particularly within the churches and seminaries that trace their lineage back to the Reformers, there’s sort of a tendency to whitewash history and try to make it sound like the Reformers didn’t do any bad things. So it’s sort of like, if I can use this example, it’s sort of like having an alcoholic in the family. I know a little something about this, not in my immediate family but in my extended family we had an alcoholic who would start his drinking about 11:00 a.m. and by the time he got to 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon he was completely blitzed and making a total fool of himself in front of the kids and everything. And when you have that kind of situation, because you love the family member, there’s sort of a marginalization of the bad behavior. You have a tendency to kind of sweep things under the rug, oh, it’s not that bad, oh, that’s just so and so and how they act, after all they were born German. I don’t know what being born German has to do with anything. Or they’re Irish… we come up with these excuses.
And so people are sort of like that with the Protestant Reformers. There’s such an appreciation, rightfully so, of what they accomplished that anything bad that they did there’s a tendency to sort of treat them as the alcoholic in the family and sort of marginalize some of the bad. But I don’t want to whitewash history, I want to be honest with you and that takes us into Roman numeral V which I would call The Protestant Reformers’ incomplete revolution. And prior to the great deluge that happened last Sunday, the prior Sunday we were talking about this if you recall. The Protestant Reformers on the subject of beginnings are generally pretty good; they took a literal approach and applied it Genesis 1-11, in an environment prior to Darwin, before the church began to be pressured to sort of rewrite early Genesis. So you can find some good strong statements amongst the Protestant Reformers in terms of early Genesis.
But their literal approach to the Bible was highly selective. You should not look at the Protestant Reformers like you would look at Charles Ryrie or somebody like that who believes in a consistent literal approach to the Bible. The Protestant Reformers did not do that, and in fact, they never took their literal hermeneutic and applied to the subject of eschatology. In fact, within the Protestant Reformers what you generally find is an antagonism or a derision to the type of eschatology (doctrine of the end) that we teach here that the church very early on, taught at the school of Antioch called… anybody remember the fancy word? Chiliasm, which today we call premillennialism.
So you have John Calvin writing a commentary on almost every single book of the Bible but he did not write a commentary on the Book of Revelation. And I usually don’t like to repeat information or go back to bullet points that we’ve already covered but in my study I did either this week or last week find this quote from Martin Luther in the preface of his Bible which he produced. And he’s making a comment here on the Book of Revelation. And this is what he says about the Book of Revelation. He says: “I miss more than one thing in this book, and this makes me hold it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic…” so he doesn’t think this was written by the Apostle John, the Book of Revelation. “I think of it almost as I do of the Fourth Book of Esdras,” now Esdras is a non-canonical uninspired book, Luther is analogizing the Book of Revelation to uninspired writings, “and can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it… It is just the same as if we did not have it, and there are many far better books for us to keep.” See, a lot of people are in churches and they tell me this, they’re in a Reformed church and they say you know, my pastor will never talk about the Book of Revelation and I’m like saying well, duh, look at the attitude of the founder of your church, for example, towards the Book of Revelation.
He goes on and says “it would be just the same as if we didn’t have it and there are many far better books for us to keep. Finally, let everyone think of it [Revelation] as his own spirit gives him to.” In other words, whatever you want to make it. “My spirit cannot fit itself into this book. This is one sufficient reason for me not to think highly of it — Christ” this statement blows my mind, it’s almost like Martin, did you read the book, “Christ is not taught or known in it;” well, last time I checked the opening phrase of the Book of Revelation is “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” “Christ is not taught in it or known in it but to teach Christ is the thing which an apostle is bound, above all else, to do, as He says in Acts” so he liked Acts, I’m happy about that, “‘Ye shall be my witnesses.’ Therefore I stick to the books which give me Christ, clearly and purely.’” See, and that captures the attitude of Calvin towards end times prophecy, I’ll be showing you some more quotes from Calvin today. And it captures the idea of Martin Luther towards end times prophecy.
So this is the problem of taking the Reformers and Reformation theology and putting it on some sort of pedestal, as many today do, as the end all, be all of Bible study. Well, these guys had no problem just chopping off, as Martin Luther’s very derisive statements reveal, the Book of Revelation. And then I added a sentence after the quote, “In 1545, Luther printed the Book of Revelation with Hebrews, James and Jude as an appendix to the New Testament.”
So he did produce, as we talked about, a German translation of the original Greek which he accomplished in… my wife and I got into a dispute about this, was it 11 months, 11 weeks, thank you, she’s right on those kind of disputes. He did it in a short time. Do we all agree on that? But when he produced his translation for the German people he put books that he didn’t agree with in the appendix. So Hebrews goes into the appendix, Jude goes into the appendix, now he really didn’t like the Book of James, he called it an epistle of straw. Now why would he call it an epistle of straw? Because in his mind it contradicted justification by faith alone, which says “the just shall live by” what? “faith” which was Luther’s clearing and call. And there are statements in the Book of James that seem to contradict that. I don’t personally think they’re contradictions when rightly understood but Luther did not like James at all so that goes into the appendix. And right into the appendix goes the Book of Revelation.
So the Reformers revolution, as wonderful as it was, was very incomplete. They did not deal with eschatology in depth. The amillennialism that dominated the church from the 4th century onward they kept in place. And I think they demonstrated a very sloppy method of interpretation concerning the beast and Babylon. They did not apply the same careful literal approach that they applied to Romans, or Galatians for example, to Revelation 13 and Revelation 17 and I think they went into what I would call a newspaper exegesis there. Luther figured out that if you called your opponents the antichrist that would preach, particularly the Catholic Church. So just willy-nilly he redirected, as did Calvin, I’ve shown you the quotes, prophecies aimed at Babylon or the beast, he just willy-nilly redirected them towards the papacy.
It’s sort of like what people do with Islam today. Now keep in mind you’re listening to someone who believes Islam has a big role to play in the end time. In fact, I wrote a book called The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel, I can’t get more direct than that. So I see Islam very aggressively in Ezekiel 38 and 39 but there are people like Joel Richardson, Perry Stone, other prophecy teachers I can think of that make Islam everything. I mean, the antichrist is going to be Islamic, and I’m wondering many times when I hear their conclusions if they’re not reading the newspaper first and reading it back into the Bible. I’m all in favor of reading the newspaper but I think we should read the Bible first, right. What is the Bible saying and then you kind of look at current events and you can see are current events fitting into the pattern that the Bible says will exist in the last days. But what you have in many prophecy circles is an ambition to do the opposite. People start with the newspaper and read it back into the Bible which is not a valid method of interpretation.
So Luther is doing that with the papacy. And what Luther and Calvin and the Reformed movement is doing is they are dragging with them into Protestant theology a lot of Roman Catholic baggage. They initially wanted to remain Catholics themselves, as we talked about, they were forced out because they were kicked out. Both men, Luther and Calvin were studying to be priests within the Roman Catholic system. They dragged with them into their new movement infant baptism because that’s what the church did, going back to the time of Augustine or earlier. They dragged with them transubstantiation, they just gave it a little lighter name called consubstantiation. Wwe talked about that and how that’s really not an adequate view. And I think that’s where we left off last time.
They also dragged with them into Protestant movement, into Protestant theology the idea that the church is the earthly kingdom of God, amillennialism or replacement theology. Now this is a view that they didn’t originate, this goes all the way back to Augustine or earlier but I’ve shared with you this quote from Augustine in The City of God where Augustine, back in the 4th century says: “Therefore the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven.” The Church is the visible kingdom of God on the earth. Of course, that’s not what chiliasts taught for the first two centuries. The kingdom is yet future. And if you believe that, that the church is the kingdom of God on the earth this has implications, ecclesiologically and even politically.
So Augustine had no problem with using the force of law to punish people who theologically disagreed with him. Why? Well, if you believe that the church is the kingdom of God on the earth the church’s function then could be to take over cities, societies, grab the reins of power and use those reins of power to coerce people to become Christians. Right. That’s a logical outflowing of believing that the church is the kingdom of God. I’m not here at this church preaching that doctrine, primarily because I’m a chiliast or premillennialist. I believe that era comes when Jesus reigns from David’s throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years.
But look at what Augustine says here. He says, “In matters of church discipline” this is my language, “Calvin imitated Augustine’s totalitarian style of government. Augustine, it will be remembered, advised Marcellinus, an African governor, to punish” PUNISH “the Donatists (a Christian sect who objected to certain Church practices),” and here’s the quote by Augustine, here’s how Augustine the dissenters ought to be punished, “not by stretching them on the rack, nor by furrowing their flesh with iron claws, nor by scorching them with flames, but by beating them with rods.” [Augustine, “Advice to Marcellinus on the Punishment of Donatists,” AD 412; Tr. J. G. Cunningham, Letters of Augustine, II, 169ff. In Stevenson, Creeds, Councils, and Controversies, 213.]
So don’t burn them, don’t do anything to their flesh, just whack them with some rods, Billy clubs and get those theological objectors on line. You see, this is why the organized church is hated throughout the Dark Ages because it did things like this and that’s an outworking of believing that the church is the current kingdom of God on earth.
Now John Calvin, what does he do? He doesn’t invent these practices but he carries them with him into the Protestant movement. I’ve shared this quote with you where Calvin admits his dependence on Augustine. As you go through Calvin’s Institutes he’s quoting Augustine over and over and over and over again. So Augustine’s bad ideas continue to live in Calvinism or Reformed theology that was beginning at that time. Calvin says, quote, “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.” [John Calvin, “A Treatise on the Eternal Predestination of God,” in John Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, trans. Henry Cole (Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1987), 38]
So he’s admitting there his literary dependence on the ideas of Augustine, particularly in Augustine’s “The City of God.” So just as Augustine ridiculed chiliasm I’ve shared with you this quote from Calvin’s Institutes for John Calvin does the exact same thing Augustine does. He calls chiliasm or premillennialism childish. He says if you believe in some kind of future kingdom of God with Jesus reigning in Jerusalem on David’s throne that is a reproach to the kingdom here and now. So what is Calvin doing? He’s continuing Augustinian thought. He doesn’t continue Augustinian thought in the areas of the solas but he carries over Augustinian thought in the areas of eschatology.
So what does Calvin do? He did exactly what Augustine did; he took over a society in Geneva, totally politically took over it, and he began to use the Mosaic Law as a basis for punishing people that were out of line. Now that’s why I had you open to Psalm 147:19-20. What does the psalmist say about the Mosaic Law? It says, “He declares His words to” who? To the city council of Sugarland? It doesn’t say that does it. “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to” who? “to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation;” including America. “He has not dealt thus with any nation and for His ordinances they have not known them. Praise the LORD!” The psalmist is very clear that the Old Testament Law, you can’t just take part of the Old Testament Law.
James says, chapter 2, verse 10, if you stumble in part of the law you’re guilty of the whole thing. [James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”] Once you put one little finger under the Mosaic Law you’re bound by the whole system, not just its moral implications but its ceremonial implications and its punitive implications, like stoning to death Sabbath breakers and witches and homosexuals, and things of that nature.
So if you believe that the church is the new Israel, as Augustine taught, and as Calvin continued, you don’t really have a problem with taking the Mosaic Law, which was aimed only at Israel, and imposing it as some kind of punitive code against people in a city today, or cities today or nations today in the church age. And the moment you do that you’re stepping outside the purpose of the Law which was given only to Israel.
One of the things I got called this week by a pretty prominent person is I got called antinomian. What is antinomian? Antinomian, nomos means law, antinomian means against the law. So because of my views of grace I’m called antinomian. This took place on Twitter and so I responded and I said well, I’m not antinomian, it’s true I don’t believe we under the Law of Moses but Galatians 6:2 I believe that we’re under the law of Christ. [Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”] I’m not antinomian at all, I just don’t think we’re under the Mosaic system. Because if we under the Mosaic system you guys should have shown up to church yesterday, on Saturday, and if you weren’t here please see us after the service, we’ve got a pile of rocks out there in the yard, we’re going to throw them at you till you die; that’s what Moses did, right, in Numbers 15. He saw a guy picking up sticks on the Sabbath, Moses said okay, we’ll take care of that problem, we’ll throw rocks at the guy until he’s dead.
I mean, you can’t just pick and choose what parts of the Mosaic Law you’re going under. We’re not under the Mosaic Law; we’re under New Testament revelation which Galatians 6:2 called the Law of Christ. But if you don’t have those dispensational distinctives which we have then what’s the problem if you’re the new Israel grabbing the Mosaic Law and imposing it on people.
So here, this is Encyclopedia Judaica, here Calvin sought to reconstruct a society through the imposition of the Mosaic Law. Quote, “which he tried to imitate as much as possible in his new Christian republic in Geneva.” [Encyclopedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing, 1971), 66.] That’s what John Calvin did, he took over a whole city in Geneva and he implemented the Mosaic Law and that city, let me tell you something, that city became a totalitarian Hellhole. We talk about Sharia Law today, we don’t want to be under Sharia Law and I agree with that, I don’t want to live under Sharia Law any more than you do, but what about a Christian form of Sharia Law. That’s what Calvin brought in.
And so one scholar, James Edward McGoldrick says what was life like in Geneva. “A measure of legalism became apparent in Geneva, as the consistory put the lives of church members under continuous review and applied discipline to offenders. Church attendance was compulsory. Eating fish on Fridays was forbidden,” I had some fish on Friday by the way; also against the law “were attendance at theaters, dancing, card playing, and criticism of pastors.” I have to admit that I like that one there. “All heretical teaching was deemed subversive and subject to penalties under criminal law.” Do you see what’s going on here? Criminal law is being imposed on people. “Flagrant infractions could lead to banishment, imprisonment, and in extreme cases death. Judicial torture was common procedure.” [James Edward McGoldrick, ‘Introducing John Calvin: The Reformer’s Preparation,’ Reformation and Revival 10, no. 4 (2001): 21.]
See, this is the dark side of the Protestant Reformation. This is an Augustinian mindset that continued on into Calvin’s thinking. And let me make just a general statement here; if anybody is coercing anybody through the force of Law to become a Christian you know right away that that’s outside God’s will because God has created men and women in His image and part of that image-bearing status involves choice. I believe in election, I believe in sovereignty, I also believe in choice. You say well explain that to me. I can’t, it’s one of the great mysteries of the Bible.
So if anybody is coercing someone to become a Christian that is not the voice of Christ; that is not the work of the Holy Spirit; that is a tyrannical form of legalism which you find in John Calvin. The Encyclopaedia Judaica refers to Calvin’s “despotic theocratic regime in Geneva.” [Calvin, John,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 5, 67] And the light, the dark cloud, storm cloud, that hovers over Calvin and Calvinism is the death of Servetus, a fellow that was unorthodox in his views of the Trinity. And under Calvin’s watch Michael Servetus was put to death. Now the Calvinist when you bring this up today they bend over backwards trying to somehow put a happy face on this. There is no happy face to put on this; this is a historical fact, this happened under Calvin’s watch. There’s a debate on how much Calvin, the lawyer by the way, was involved in the proceeding, but everybody agrees that Calvin could have shut the whole thing down had he wanted to do it and probably most likely knew what was going on. And Servetus is not the only one.
So Lewis Lupton, in A History of the Geneva Bible says, quote: “’The execution of Servetus is the greatest blot on Calvin’s life’ and reveals ‘that vindictive streak which sometimes disgraced the character of the Reformer.”’ [Lewis Lupton, A History of the Geneva Bible, Vol. 2 (London: Olive Tree, 1969), 23–24. ] So the church as the kingdom of God on the earth with its ugly political implications continues on into Protestantism.
Something else that people don’t want to talk about is the anti-Semitism that continued on in the writings and the teachings of the Protestant Reformers. I brought this up in church services and I’ve had people get very crossways with me and angry at me for even bringing it up but the fact of the matter is we’re on lesson 11 on the Reformation; haven’t I said a lot of good things about the Reformers? I mean, I’ve given them their place, right? But history is history; you can’t put a happy face on this. It’s just as much part of history as the good things that they did. The Reformers did not invent antisemitism.
Antisemitism, you might remember from the early lessons, starts to rear its ugly head around Acts 18 and even earlier if you go back into the Old Testament, Paul is trying to counter that, I believe, in Romans 11. But by the time of Augustine, by the time The City of God, the idea is the Jews are out, they’re the cursed people, they’ve lost their place in God, they’re the Christ-killers and then the people don’t have a Bible to counter the worldly influence of anti-Semitism throughout the Dark Ages. And so all the way throughout the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages as you look at the statues and the architecture it is just despicable anti-Semitic. Even the church itself, its leadership anyway, became anti-Semitic.
So anti-Semitism reigns to some extent in Luther. So let me show you this in seven parts; I think I can do this fairly fast. I want to show you Luther’s descent into anti-Semitism. So in 1517, that’s the year that most people mark the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, you have Luther’s 95 thesis nailed to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany. About four years later, 1521 he’s kicked out of the Roman Catholic Church. Two years later, 1523 he writes a book that I would say thumbs up, it’s a great book. It’s a very pro-Jewish book. The title of it was Jesus Was Born a Jew. And let me read to you an excerpt, if I could, from that book.
Luther says, “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts” now the dolts would be Christians, “and blockheads” I kind of like how these guys write, you know, how do you really feel, “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property.” Speaking of Christian’s attitude towards the Jewish people. “When they baptize them they show them nothing of Christian doctrine or life, but only subject them to popishness and monkery…If the apostles, who also were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles….” [Martin Luther, Jesus Was Born a Jew (1523).]
He goes on and he says, “When we are inclined to boast of our position we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they” the Jews, “are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are…” Gentiles. “If we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them not by papal law but by the law of Christian love. We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, that they may have occasion and opportunity to associate with us, hear our Christian teaching, and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either.”
So he’s kind of fessing up to that our witness toward the Jewish people in this book, Jesus was Born a Jew, has been less than biblical and we’ve alienated them from Christianity is basically what he’s saying. And he’s documenting the fact that Jesus was Jewish, the apostles were Jewish, we owe our origin of Christianity to the Jews. So you read a book like that and you say man, that’s a great book. That was in 1523.
We now move from 1523 to 1543 which according to my old math is two decades, right; twenty years. Now what in the world happened between 1523 and 1543? These Jews just didn’t respond to the gospel. I mean Luther had labored to retrieve salvation by faith alone, salvation by grace alone, salvation by Christ alone and he did everything in his power to hold it out to the Jewish people and he just didn’t get a response from them. And what you start seeing in Luther is his attitude changing towards the Jews. He starts going back to what Christians believed about the Jews going through the Middle Ages, the dark ages.
And so the whole thing really begins to unravel and disintegrate, it reaches its lowest point with his book, On the Jews and Their Lies, published in 1543, a good 20 years after the really good book that he wrote. Now this is an 80 page document, I have it in my office in case people want to see it, you can find it for free on the internet and download it to you Kindle if you’re interested. And here are some excerpts from that, Luther on the Jews.
“First, their synagogues should be set on fire…Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed… Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds…” “…Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more… Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews… Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury (charging interest on loans…”
Now why were they charging interest on loans? It’s a survival skill because everywhere they went they were persecuted, they couldn’t find employment so they had to get good with what? Money and finances. That’s why Jews today, as part of their culture that’s been taught to them are, as we all know, extremely shrewd and good business people and we make fun of them for that. We use statements like, when we’re doing a deal with somebody, oh, you’re going to Jew me down. We say things like that and we’re ignorant of the fact that there’s history behind why the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are as shrewd and talented with money and finances. But Luther saw this and he says we’re going to stop that practice, charging interest on loans.
“Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let the earn their bread by the sweat of their noses…We ought to drive the rascally lazy bones out of our system…” “…Therefore away with them… To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden–the Jews.” [Martin Luther, Concerning the Jews and Their Lies, cited in Michael Brown’s Our Hands Are Stained with Blood, pp. 14-15]
Now do you see all those dot, dot, dot’s I have in there? What do we call that? We call that an ellipsis because that’s part of the verbiage I just left out for the sake of space. This is a document that goes on just a tad over 80 pages, on and on and on and on like this. And as somebody who speaks and writes let me show you the difference here. It is easy to misspeak or mangle sentences or as our former President, George Bush said, a few syllables when you’re speaking. I mean that’s easy to do. When you’re writing it’s a completely different animal because you’re by yourself, you’re coolly and calmly and deliberately reflecting on your phrases and your ideas as it moves from head to paper.
Luther made these statements in writing. When somebody makes a statement in writing, it’s different than a sermon, I believe all people should be held accountable for whatever they say, but it’s easier to misspeak as a speaker but when you’re writing there’s very little doubt that he misspoke here. And you would not believe the number of people that try to let Luther off the hook here. One of the things they say is well, he was old. Tell me something, when is old being an excuse for sin? Never. Didn’t God get on Solomon’s case in the final section of his life, even in his old age?
And people like to use this one: well, Luther was sort of mad at everybody. And see this is the old alcoholic in the family mindset; it’s to marginalize, minimize, make it sound like it really wasn’t that big a deal. And yet what I’m trying to say is it was a big deal. And in that same year he also wrote a pamphlet called Of the Unknowable Name and the Generations of the Messiah, 1543. Now in that one he calls Jews little devils sucking on a pig.
And from 1543 we move into 1546 where he delivered several sermons in Eisleben where he says over and over again that the Jews, number 1, are to be excommunicated from Christianity, they are the enemies of Christianity and they are to be kicked out of the country, is basically what he’s saying.
Now I want to show you that these things Luther did, alongside the good he did, are real things; they can’t be swept away, and the reason I know that is because Luther’s own denomination, the Lutheran denomination made a public apology for the things Luther said and they made this apology in 1983.
And they write, “We Lutherans take our name and much of our understanding of Christianity from Martin Luther. But we cannot accept or condone the violent verbal attacks that the Reformer made against the Jews…The sins of Luther’s anti-Jewish remarks, the violence of his attacks on the Jews, must be acknowledged with deep distress. And all occasions for similar sin in the present or the future must be removed from our churches…Lutherans of today refuse to be bound by all of Luther’s utterances on the Jews.” [https://www.ccjr.us/dialogika-resources/documents-and-statements/interreligious/759-lwfijcic1983]
And the reason I included that is because if what Luther said wasn’t that bad why is his own spiritual lineage making public apologies. I mean, they have the courage to look at history for what it is and why would we be any different as evangelicals.
Now there is a school of thought and I know people disagree with me on this, but I want to show you where I’m getting this from. There is a school of thought that indicates that what Luther said laid the groundwork or contributed to the groundwork for Nazi Germany. The Encyclopaedia Judaica says this concerning Luther’s pamphlet, The Jews and their Lies. “The Encyclopaedia Judaica says “Short of the Auschwitz oven and the extermination, the whole Nazi holocaust is pre-outlined here.” [“Luther, Martin,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 8, 693.] See this is not just my opinion, I’m getting this opinion from people that have looked into this and studied this. Luther did not invent anti-Semitism, he carried it over.
Lucy Dawidowicz in in Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 8, 693 says “…both Luther and Hitler were obsessed by the ‘demonologized universe’ inhabited by the Jews.”
Here’s a gentleman I had the opportunity of speaking alongside at the Hope For Today Conference. He’s just come out with a great book on anti-Semitism. He’s a Jewish person himself, his name is Olivier J. Melnick and I’m going to try to get him actually to come and speak to us at some point, at this church. I recommend his book called End-Times Antisemitism: A New Chapter in the Longest Hatred. And he has a chapter in there dealing with the subject of Martin Luther and he makes this statement. He says, “In 1543, when the Jewish community didn’t meet his expectations, Luther published the book Of the Jews and Their Lies,” which we just referenced earlier, “where his description of the Jewish people is so venomous that Hitler was quoted saying that he was just finishing up what Luther started…As a matter of fact,” this opinion is not something I came up with, I’m reading people that draw this connection. As a matter of fact, many scholars and historians believe that Luther’s view of the Jews had a profound effect on Germans for centuries to come and also had a serious influence on Hitler’s ideology and implementing the final solution to the Jewish question. The connection between Luther and Hitler” Olivier J. Melnick says, “is not difficult to make.” [Oliver J. Melnick, End-Times Antisemitism: A New Chapter in the Longest Hatred (Tustin, CA: Hope For Today Publications, 2017), 89, 92.]
This is a citation from Thomas Ice who’s the Executive Director of The Pre-trib Study Group who went to a conference at the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem called Yad Vashem and the conference was entitled Yad Vashem and the Holocaust. And here’s what Thomas Ice says from the things that he learned at this conference..
He says, “We learned at the conference that Hitler was not alone in his irrational desire to murder Jews, it was embedded in the German, Austrian, and Eastern European nations. The original source for such anti-Semitism goes back to the common experience of all of Europe’s medieval Roman Catholic Jew-hatred.” Nobody is saying that Luther invented anti-Semitism, he just carried it over. The statement goes on and is says, “Most of the people throughout Europe did not have to be taught by Hitler or the Nazis to hate the Jews, it was endemic in their culture for hundreds of years. When the Nazis crystalized their anti-Semitism into murdering the Jews as a virtue, they already had a willing mass of people ready to join their crusade. After all, Hitler quoted the founder of the Reformation” Luther, “three times in Mein Kampf and called Martin Luther one of the greatest Christians in all of history. It is not surprising (for the most part) the German clergy were great Hitler enthusiasts since almost all of them were liberal and held to replacement theology.” [Thomas D. Ice, “Yad Vashem and the Holocaust,” online: www.pre-trib.org, accessed 19 August 2017, 2.]
So there’s an intellectual climate put in place which preceded the holocaust. And what do they say about history, the lesson of history is we never learn from what? History! I mean, all over this country your children and grandchildren at school are being hit with what’s called BDS which basically stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. And you go online or you go to some of these BDS rallies and it’s just vitriolic antisemitism. The Jews control the banks, the Jews are bringing in a one-world conspiracy, the Jews this, the Jews that. And the Jews stole Palestine from the natives. It’s just rewriting history and this is what your children and your grandchildren are facing.
What’s the only force in this country standing in the way of that? People like ourselves, say wait a minute, we’ve got a Bible here and my Bible says yes, although Israel is in a state of disobedience at the present time that never chopped off Israel from God’s program and God continues to love the Jewish people.
How do you look at a guy like Martin Luther? You look at him just like you would look at the Apostle Peter; one moment Jesus says “who do men say that I am?” And the Holy Spirit uses Him to reveal the identity of Christ. The next second in the conversation Jesus takes Peter aside, rebukes him, can you imagine doing that to God, rebuking God, and challenging the idea that he should go to the cross and die and the moment he said that he said “Get behind me” what? “Satan.”
That’s true of Peter, that’s true of Luther, it’s true of me, it’s true of you, as long as we are still in these natural bodies the sin nature can come back and reign at any moment if I don’t reckon it dead perpetually, as Romans 6 tells me I should. So a Christian has the ability to say something great in one breath and because of the dual natured aspect of the Christian they have the ability of saying something completely horrific or even demonically energized with the next breath. And this is why people say I can’t become a Christian because there are so many hypocrites in the church. I always saw well, we’ve always got room for one more hypocrite.
Why is there hypocrisy in the church? Because of the dual nature reality of the Christian. Now the problem with a guy like Luther doing it is Luther was used in a tremendous way to bless people. And listen to me very carefully; whenever God uses a man or woman to bless people Satan desires to use that same man or woman to do his work. Did you hear me? This is how the devil works. And this is what is entering, I believe, Luther’s mind and that twenty years between his pro-Israel book and his anti-Jewish book; Satan was working on him. Well, God used this guy, I’m going to use this guy. And that is, I think, a proper way of looking at the Protestant Reformers; they were just men, vessels of clay is all they are. God used them in an instant and the devil used them also.
Now people won’t let John Calvin off the hook here; but see, we’re living in the era of Logos software, where you can access all of Calvin’s writings. Here’s what Calvin said in his commentary on the Book of Daniel, disagreeing with a rabbi on an interpretation of the Book of Daniel. Calvin says, ““But here he [the rabbi] not only betrays his ignorance, but his utter stupidity, since God so blinded the whole people that they were like restive dogs.” That’s Calvin in reference to the Jewish people. “…restive dogs. I have had much conversation with many Jews: I have never seen either a drop of piety or a grain of truth or ingenuousness—nay, I have never found common sense in any Jew.” Does that sound racist to you? “But this fellow,” the rabbi he’s arguing with, “who seems so sharp and ingenious, displays his own impudence to his great disgrace.” [Commentary on the Prophet Daniel (Vol 1, p. 185). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. Commentary on Daniel 2:44-45. (2010).]
Maybe Calvin was not as overt about it as Luther was but when you get into the writings of Calvin you’ll see the same pattern. Calvin repeatedly refers to the Jews as “profane unholy sacrilegious dogs,” describing them as “a barbarous nation” these are direct quotes, “and the people of Israel rejected by God.” [John Calvin, Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt Omnia, 50, 307; Sermon on Gal. 1:6–8; quoted in Selderhuis, Calvin Handbook, 145; 2. John Calvin, Supplementa Calviniana, V, 145, 10; Sermon on Mic. 40b–11; quoted in Selderhuis, Calvin Handbook, 145; 3. John Calvin, Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt Omnia, 27, 6; Sermon on Deut. 10:1–8; quoted in Selderhuis, Calvin Handbook, 145.]
Now you see these kinds of things and what you have to always do with that type of mindset is you have to counter it with Romans 11 because in Romans 11 Paul deals with this whole subject of the Jews in unbelief; he talks about a tree, he talks about how the natural branches (or the Jews) have been broken off currently because of unbelief, and who has been grafted in in its place? The wild branches and the unnatural branches. That would be us. And Paul, in Romans 11, specifically deals with the attitude (watch this very carefully) the attitude that the unnatural branches, Gentile Christians, are to have towards the natural branches, unbelieving Jews. What is to be our attitude today toward them?
Paul says in Romans 11:18 to us, “Do not be” what? “arrogant toward the branches;” as we have been grafted in we should not have an attitude of arrogance, we should not have an attitude of derision towards the Jews that have been currently broken off in unbelief. I think Luther early on had the right attitude but in 1543 he, and then later John Calvin had the wrong attitude and history is there to teach us something because this Jew hatred is not going away and we have to start thinking through our response and not committing the errors of the past. That is the value of history.
So what does Paul say about the Jews, the persecutors of the new church all the way through the Book of Acts? You go all the way through the Book of Acts and who are the primary troublemakers? Unbelieving religious Israel. So Paul explains in Romans 11:28-29 from the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved, for the sake of the who? The fathers. What fathers? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ones that God used to give a unilateral unconditional covenant to called the Abrahamic Covenant. “…for the gifts and the calling of God” are what? “irrevocable,” can’t be withdrawn. [Romans 11:28, “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;  for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Yes the Jews are in unbelief. Yes they can be a great problem or a thorn in the side of Christians but He said Christian, watch your attitude very carefully here. You need to start thinking about them through the lens of the Abrahamic Covenant.
So the Reformers didn’t focus on the whole picture, probably because of fatigue, probably because they had given so much on the solas. Some of them, praise the Lord, like Huss earlier and Tyndale paid with their own lives for what they did. So we can look back at the Protestant Reformation with great gratitude but we should not put them on a pedestal. I think our approach towards the Protestant Reformers should be thankfulness, but understand that their hermeneutical revolution was highly selective. They gave us an incomplete revolution; they dragged with them into Protestantism a lot of negativity. But let me tell you what they did: they gave us the tool, literal, grammatical, historical method, that’s the tool out of the tool box; they gave us the tool although they didn’t use it consistently, they gave us the tool by which the church could continue to be reformed in some of these other areas that the Reformers left untouched. So they provided the method by which future generations could continue to reform the church through a consistent application of the Reformers interpretive approach.
In other words, they took the methodology of Antioch, the first two centuries, and they brought it back to life in the 16th century, inconsistently when they brought it back to life in certain areas and now the Holy Spirit says okay, future generations, you’ve seen the method, you’ve seen the tools in the tool box, now you pull it out and you continue the process. And the continuation of that process I will get into next week.