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The Beers of Martin Luther

April 5th, 2008
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I received this the other day and thought you might find it interesting.

Agricultural revolution and the
domestication of cereal grains occurred around 6000 BC. Between 3000
and 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, malting and fermentation were understood
and practiced. Barley and wheat were common, and 40%
of all cereal grain was used for brewing. Knowledge of brewing spread
to Babylon and Egypt, and by a northward route to Europe, not via the
Romans or Greeks, who didn’t care all that much about beer.

        From written history, we know that Germanic
tribes were brewing in the first century BC. And that brewing went from
the home, to the monastery, and then to commercial breweries, which
started out as ale houses and grew into large-scale
operations with guilds, systems of apprenticeship and knowledge held in
                German Beers of the Middle Ages
                In Germany during the Middle Ages,
barley, wheat and oats were all used to make malt, although in some
cities, Munich and Nürnberg for example, the authorities decreed that
only barley malt, hops and water could be used by
commercial brewers. Depending upon which history you read, this purity
edict was to maintain the quality of the beer, keep the people from
starving lest they use all their grain for beer, protect the people
from poisoning by hop-substitutes, and/or to protect
royal monopolies on the production of wheat beer. But I digress.

        Whatever the grain, once malted it might be
dried in the sunlight (producing a pale malt and light-colored beer),
or dried on cloth covered wicker beds placed near a kiln (as at the
monastery of St. Gall), or on a grate covered with
a hair cloth overlaying a hearth, or over a wood fire, producing a
darker malt, with the hazard of a smoky taste in the malt, and
subsequently in the beer.
        The German beers of the Middle Ages could
be roughly divided into brownbiers and weissbiers. The longer the
kilning of the malt and the longer the boil of the wort, the darker the
beers would have been, hence brown in color. The
greater the proportion of wheat malt, the lighter the kilning of the
malt, and the shorter the boil, the lighter the beers would be, hence
‘white’ or gold beers.
        By Luther’s era, circa 1500, hops were
common in brewing, displacing the ‘gruit’ of earlier years, usually a
combination of yarrow, bog myrtle, tree bark, etc. Hence the beers of
Luther’s time would have been hoppy, especially those
prepared for export. And in the northern part of Germany, the exporting
of beer was a very important part of the economy.
        The yeasts of the era were of the
top-fermenting variety, therefore the beers were ales. (Although some
bottom fermenting beers were made in Germany as early as 1420, this was
primarily in the south, in Bavarian monasteries. The
lager revolution had yet to take place.) Thus the beers of the time
would have had fruity, ale-like characteristics. And because the
technology for producing single strains of yeast was centuries away,
every batch of yeast, taken from the previous brew, would
have several strains, and hence impart several different flavors to
every brew. The beers would thus have been complex, rather than simple
and ‘clean.’
        Without temperature control, the
fermentation temperatures would have varied with the yeast strains and
the weather (temperature), and the flavors would have varied
accordingly. Given the lack of hygiene, the presence of lactic
in addition to the yeast, must have been common, so the element of
sourness must often have been present in the flavor profile. Without
modern filtration, or the use of adjuncts such as corn, the beers may
have been cloudy with residual yeast and/or protein
        Thus, the beers of Luther’s era would have
been complex, highly flavored, possibly a tad sour and/or cloudy, and
would have varied in color, flavor, strength and quality.
                Beer Varied by Place of Manufacture
                Homebrew — The primary source of
beer during Luther’s era was domestic brewing, done primarily by women,
a practice as common as cooking and baking are today. The beer would
have varied based on the economic situation of
the household, and the skill of the brewster. But Luther no doubt drank
beer in his monastery, and beer from commercial brewers as well.
        Abbey Beers — To understand Abbey Ales,
and how religion and brewing came to exist in such an unexpected and
beneficial harmony, one has to journey back to the fourth century, when
monastic orders sprang up around the Mediterranean.
In Italy, St. Benedict laid down the first rules of monastic life,
declaring that each monastery would have an abbot as its leader — and
hence be known as an abbey — and that manual labor would be as much a
part of the day as prayer. He required that the
monks grow and make everything they need within the abbey walls, and
thus be safe from the outside world with its snares and temptations.
        During the Middle Ages, hundreds of these
self-sufficient communities thrived as places of holiness and learning.
The monks grew their own crops, and prepared their own food and wine.
And as they ventured north to establish monasteries
in cooler climes, they began to make their own beer. In the early
Middle Ages, there were 400-500 monasteries brewing in Germany alone.
        Beer and wine were staples for good reason.
In the ages before modern sanitation, water was a dangerous beverage,
sometimes even fatal. There was no coffee, tea or soda. Milk, because
of infection, could be dangerous as well. But
wine, by virtue of its alcoholic content, and beer, because the water
had been boiled in the brewing process, did not carry disease. Thus
they were the safe and common beverages of the day.
        So a brewery was as common a feature in an
abbey as a bakery, kitchen or garden. But the monks not only
participated in brewing, they also studied it, recorded their
observations and passed on their knowledge. Even when royal and
city breweries began to flourish in the tenth and eleventh centuries,
the best beer was still made in monasteries.
        The ninth century Abbey of St. Gallen, not
far from present-day Zurich, had three breweries, as well as a malt
house, milling room, kiln and storage cellars. Each brewery brewed a
different beer: a prima melior for distinguished
visitors and for the fathers themselves, a secunda for lay brothers and
other employees, and a tertia for the many pilgrims who came seeking
bed and board. The best beer, prima melior, might be brewed to be even
more sustaining during Lent, when it served as
"liquid bread" for the brothers. The current Belgian Abbey Ales are
perhaps the closest thing to these beers.
        As for the use of beer as an aid to Lenten
discipline, Luther noted, "Under the papacy everything was pleasant and
without annoyances. Fasting then was easier than eating is to us now.
To every day of fasting belonged three days
of gorging. For a collation one got two pots of good beer, one small
jug of wine, and some ginger cake or salted bread to stimulate the
thirst. The poor brothers then left like fiery angels, so red were they
in the face."
        Throughout the centuries, monastic brewing
traditions were interrupted repeatedly as the abbeys were sacked and
destroyed by Vandals, Visigoths and Vikings, rebuilt to be sacked again
during the French Revolution and two World Wars.
The Belgian monastery at Orval, for example, was founded in 1130, but
has been destroyed and rebuilt at least four times.
        Today, Orval is one of five Trappist
monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands that brews Trappist ale. The
others are Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren. The broader
title of "abbey ale" goes to any beer that is brewed
for an abbey, or in tribute to an abbey, by a commercial brewery. A
single abbey might have two or three beers, and it is estimated that
there are between 75 and 150 abbey ales brewed in Belgium today. (One
of Orval’s ales serves as the inspiration for Blue
Moon’s Abbey Ale, a serious attempt to recreate the Abbey style in a
commercially bottled version.)
        Because one of the main characteristics of
an abbey ale is its individuality, abbey ale is not so much a beer
style as it is a family of beers whose aroma and palate make clear the
source of their inspiration. They are top fermented,
highly distinctive, fruity and aromatic.
        Commercial Brewing — In the Middle Ages,
brewing as a business began in ale houses (evolving from inns for
wayfarers) and came into its own in 14th to 16th centuries. While some
claim the beer was not as good as the monastic product,
it was good enough to be commercially successful, in both Germany and
in the nations served by Germany’s growing group of exporting brewers.
And every city had its own specialty. In Luther’s time, the breweries
of northern Germany were the best known and most
successful, and beer was one of the three main exports of the Hanseatic
League, the others being wine and linen.
        In 1575, author Heinrich Knaust described
the famed beers of the day: "There was a Lubeck Israel, an old Klaus
(Brandenburg), a Goslauer Gose, a Hanover Braehan, a Soltzman at
Saltzwedel, a Rastrun at Leipsic, beer of Corvey, beer
of Harlem, Dantzic brew, Eimbecker (Einbecker) brew, and many others…
The most celebrated of all was the Braunschweig Mumme, named for its
discoverer, Christian Mumme (1492)."
        In 1588, Jacob Theodor von Bergzabern’s
Herbal discussed brewing in Germany and listed Danzig beer , also known
as Joppenbier, with a fine brown-red color and as thick as syrup.
"There is more strength and nourishment in a little
mug of this than a whole measure of other beers." He also noted that
Hamburg beer was a pale beer made with wheat malt and was preferred
among German pale beers, and Lübeck beer was a ‘strong but unfriendly
beer’ that made one stupid even if drunk in small
                Luther’s Favorite
                Because he traveled, Luther could
have had many of these beers, but there is only one with claims to the
effect that it was his favorite. Frederick Salem, in his Beer, Its
History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage
(1880) notes, "Luther’s fondness for beer is well known, and on the
evening of that eventful day at Worms, April 18, 1521, the Duke Erich
von Braunschweig sent him a pot of Eimbecker (Einbecker) beer, to which
he was specially addicted."
        Also, Michael Jackson, in his New World
Guide to Beer (1988), notes that Luther received a gift of Einbeck beer
on the occasion of his wedding. Luther scholar Luther Peterson recalls
a visit to a restaurant in Einbeck where he found
a beer coaster with portraits of Martin and Katie on one side and a
tale about their receiving a barrel of Einbeck beer as a wedding
present. Although he adds, "How authoritative a beer coaster can be is
another question."
        Einbeck beer was known as early as 1325 and
in One Hundred Years of Brewing (1903) is said to be the most famous
beer of the Middle Ages, available everywhere in Germany and shipped as
far as Jerusalem. It began with two thirds barley
malt, one third wheat malt. Kiln-dried malt was not used as the beer
was to be "yellow in color and clear." It was a top fermentation beer.
The author noted that it was vastly different from the present (i.e.
1903) top fermentation beers, nor to be compared
to either the normal beer (probably lager), or the weiss beer, or the
double-brew (probably doppelbock) beer. It was brewed only in winter,
from about St. Martin’s day at the end of September until the first of
May. As the beer kept its quality very long, enabling
it to be shipped far away, it stands to reason that it was not only
rich in malt, hence in alcohol, but also strongly hopped.
        Von Bergzabern’s Herbal, the 1613 edition,
is also quoted in One Hundred Years of Brewing, and describes Einbeck
beer as "thin, subtle, clear, of bitter taste, has a pleasant acidity
on the tongue, and many other good qualities."
        Einbecker evolved into the Bock style that
flourishes to this day — an extra strong beer, malty with a smooth hop
finish. We can be sure, however, that the Einbecker beers enjoyed by
Martin Luther tasted nothing like the Einbecker
Ur-Bocks of today. In Luther’s day, Einbecker was a top-fermented beer
made with a large portion of wheat and fermented with multiple yeast
strains, each vying to impart its own flavor to the beer. The thin,
acidic quality noted in 1613 was probably a product
of bacterial infection at the start and the multiple yeast strains,
plus wild yeast from the air, all working together to ferment every
last bit of sugar.
        With today’s pure yeast cultures, only 75%
or so of the sugars are consumed in fermentation, leaving some
sweetness and body. And because today’s Bocks are bottom-fermented with
a single yeast strain, they are far cleaner and simpler
in taste. In spite of the evolution from Einbecker to Bock beer, the
Luther identification has remained strong. In the 20th century, an
Einbeck brewery even used a portrait of Luther on its label when its
beer was first imported into the U.S.
        If you do wish to drink beers similar to
the beers Luther drank, the closest you will come are probably today’s
Belgian Abbey Ales. Their top fermentation, complex flavors, full
attenuation, and highly individual character are all
in keeping with the beers of the monasteries that Luther knew as a
young man, and with many more of the beers of Luther’s time.
                Luther on Commercial Brewers
                As much as Luther loved beer, he
did not love commercial brewers. One evening over dinner he noted,
"Whoever it was who invented the brewing of beer has been a curse for
Germany… Horses devour the greatest part of the grain,
for we grow more oats than rye. The good peasants and the townspeople
drink up almost as much of the grain in the form of beer."
        And on another occasion at the table, he
said, "No doubt (Adam) was a very sensible man and well practiced in a
variety of trials. He lived most temperately and drank neither wine nor
beer. I wish brewing had never been invented,
for a great deal of grain is consumed to make it, and nothing good is
                Luther on Homebrew
                Luther much preferred homebrew.
After Luther married, his wife Katie brewed beer as the lay brothers
had brewed it in days gone by. Luther Peterson notes that Martin often
began his written invitations to friends with the
note that Katie had made him another barrel of beer. Once in 1535,
while away from home, he wrote to her about some bad beer he had drunk
‘which did not agree with me… I said to myself what good wine and
beer I have at home, and also what a pretty lady, or
lord.’ Here’s an endorsement of homebrew, and very diplomatically put
as well.
        We know that Luther drank at home. One
biographer notes, "The German prophet became a patriarch, and the
living room was dominated by his presence. He enjoyed his beer and had
a great mug with three rings on it, one ‘the Ten Commandments’,
the next ‘the Creed’ and third ‘the Lord’s Prayer’. He boasted that he
could encompass all three with ease."
        Luther also drank the local beer with
friends, noting in one sermon delivered at Wittenberg in 1522, "I
opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply
taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did
nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29], or drank Wittenberg beer
with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the
papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it."
        Beer had other virtues for Luther. All his
life, he was troubled with constipation and insomnia, but in a letter
to Katie while he was traveling, he mentioned the excellent local beer
with its laxative qualities, "three bowel movements
in three hours." On another occasion, he wrote to say how well he was
sleeping because of the local beer, but that he was as "sober as in
                Luther on Moderation
                Above all, Luther was a champion of
moderation. In his Sermon on Soberness and Moderation, delivered on May
18, 1539, he noted:
                "It is possible to tolerate a
little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after
working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic.
But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it
out again, is piggish… all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest
drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this
way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle
beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped
by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not
admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal.
5:19-21]… If you are tired and downhearted, take a drink; but this
does not mean being a pig and doing nothing but gorging
and swilling… You should be moderate and sober; this means that we
should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated."
        And so we have Martin Luther’s permission
to enjoy a warm glow, especially at home with family and friends, but
his stern admonition to refrain from piggishness.
                These notes were written for a
speech on "The Beers of Luther’s Germany," given to the Men’s Breakfast
at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, New York, in April
1997. Keith Villa, of Blue Moon Brewing, was very helpful
in describing how the beers of Martin Luther’s era would have looked
and tasted. My thanks to the Rev. James Bresnahan and the Rev. Michael
Lagerman for their assistance.
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Categories: Martin Luther Quotes
  1. April 7th, 2008 at 15:53 | #1

    So do you have a favorite beer, Paul? In the same way you have a favorite coffee?
    McCain: Actually, no. And I’m not as picky about my beer as I am my coffee! But I’ve always wanted to try brewing my own beer and I’m sure I would get fairly picky then.

  2. April 12th, 2008 at 21:42 | #2

    Shalom Daniel,
    Thanks for your comments. I can understand why you feel the way you do about Martin Luther. I would feel the same way about him if all I knew of him was what he wrote toward the end of his life about the Jews.
    I’m not aware of any Lutheran Church that agrees with Martin Luther, or that defends any of his hateful remarks about the Jews.
    It is incorrect to attribute the Holocaust to Martin Luther. This matter is very thoroughly treated in two books:
    Fabricated Luther by Uwe Siemon-Netto
    Lutherans Against Hitler by Lowell Green
    May you come to know the True and Living Lion of Judah, the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, and by believing in Him, you may have life in His name. Shalom!
    Daniel’s comments follow:
    Shalom Paul. My name is Daniel, and I am an Orthodox Jew. I just happened along onto your blog through the Blog Rush widget, and so I took a few minutes to peruse around. I don’t know anything about the different sects of Christianity, but I do know quite a bit about Martin Luther. He was a Jew-hater of the worst kind. G-d’s covenants are eternal…the covenants He made with us didn’t end. For some reason, he just saw fit to hate G-d’s chosen…His inheritence. Why? Because we wouldn’t convert en masse. Here are a list of excerpts:
    Martin Luther: The Jews and Their Lies
    I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.
    He did not call them Abraham’s children, but a “brood of vipers” [Matt. 3:7]. Oh, that was too insulting for the noble blood and race of Israel, and they declared, “He has a demon’ [Matt 11:18]. Our Lord also calls them a “brood of vipers”; furthermore in John 8 [:39,44] he states: “If you were Abraham’s children ye would do what Abraham did…. You are of your father the devil. It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to hear this today.
    Therefore the blind Jews are truly stupid fools…
    Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people.
    …their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain.
    Learn from this, dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, “When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit” [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments…
    Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self­glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.
    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 arch­thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.
    However, they have not acquired a perfect mastery of the art of lying; they lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it. But for us Christians they stand as a terrifying example of God’s wrath.
    If I had to refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing their lies­­ that is, longer than two thousand years.
    …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.
    Did I not tell you earlier that a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts?
    Alas, it cannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God which permits anyone to sink into such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If I were to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him such evil and misfortune as God’s wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie and to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.
    No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
    …but then eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God’s anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!
    Over and above that we let them get rich on our sweat and blood, while we remain poor and they such the marrow from our bones.
    I brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule­­ if my counsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safe­conduct, or communion with us…. .With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.
    Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew.
    However, we must avoid confirming them in their wanton lying, slandering, cursing, and defaming. Nor dare we make ourselves partners in their devilish ranting and raving by shielding and protecting them, by giving them food, drink, and shelter, or by other neighborly
    Therefore we Christians, in turn, are obliged not to tolerate their wanton and conscious blasphemy.
    Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death.
    What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:
    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.
    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)
    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.
    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).
    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.
    Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
    But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews’ synagogues and forbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God’s name? They will still keep doing it in secret. If we know that they are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it publicly. for our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration of them implies that they are not secret after all and thus our conscience is encumbered with it before God.
    Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:
    First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. That would demonstrate to God our serious resolve and be evidence to all the world that it was in ignorance that we tolerated such houses, in which the Jews have reviled God, our dear Creator and Father, and his Son most shamefully up till now but that we have now given them their due reward.
    I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people, as suggested above, to see whether this might not help (though it is doubtful). They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. There it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God’s wrath and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am exonerated.”
    My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews’ malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life. Amen.
    From Luther’s Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). pp 268­293.
    Martin Luther provided much ammunition for Hitler to use, and so he used it. Alot. And it is the main reason he was able to execute HaShoah and murder 6 million Jews…including members of my very own family. I guess my point and my question would be: Knowing that an entire sect has been named after this man…a phenomenally-evil man, how could you build a denomination upon his teachings? It’s like saying, “Hitler was mostly good, he just had a few quirks.” Is it safe to say that the Luthern church is also very anti-semitic and biased against Israel? I am not trying to be argumentative at all…I have these questions, so I thought I would ask since I am at a Pastor’s blog and you happen to be Luthern. Thank you in advance for answering my questions and concerns.

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