The Dark Side of Martin Luther

This week’s adult Sunday School topic is: The Edgy and Dark Sides of Martin Luther; or The Things Martin Luther Said that Make Us Squirm. This is the sixth in a seven week series on Lutheranism* that I am teaching at my internship congregation, St John’s by the Gas Station.  I hope to have the class break into small groups – I’ve averaged about 40 people in the class – to wrestle with various nasty Luther quotes about Jews, Muslims, the Pope, the peasants, and other classes he assailed at times in his ministry.  This is not meant to beat up on Martin Luther.  Rather, my goal is twofold:

  1. Expose the class to some of the nasty things Luther said and help them contextualize and appropriately critique Luther; and,
  2. Use these nasty quotes – along with the many wonderful quotes I’ve used in previous weeks – to discuss our relationship with Martin Luther.  Just because Martin Luther said something, do we as 21st Century American Lutherans believe it?

I am still developing this class – ie, I’ve got nothing so far.  If you have any nasty Luther quotes to share or insights into the topic, please share here!  Thanks.

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* The topics for the full seven-week series are:

  1. Intro to Lutheran Theology;
  2. Spirituality of Luther (guest speaker);
  3. Some Lutheran History (Mosaic video);
  4. Lutheran Worship & Sacraments;
  5. Daily Faith;
  6. The Edgy and Dark Sides of Martin Luther; and next week,
  7. Why America Needs Lutheranism (& Vice Versa).

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

10 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Martin Luther

  1. This looks like a really interesting class! I don’t have anything that might help but Derek might. I will check with him. Good luck with it!

  2. US Holocaust Museum has a Luther quote in its preliminary film, that the ELCA voted to distance ourselves from years ago (and that fact is also noted in the film). Search the ELCA website for that action taken by a Churchwide Assembly.

  3. I know that Luther advocated beating wives much like one beats an apple tree. He also believed like everyone of his time that mice were self-generated from trash and accumulated garbage.

  4. The book of James was initially given a bad rap as “the straw epistle”. He did change his tune later. Maybe something on the canon? I know, it’s not as controversial as the whole wife thing but….

  5. Here’s some stuff to make women crazy.
    “Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.”
    — Martin Luther, Table Talk
    “The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.”
    — Martin Luther, Works 12.94
    “Even though they grow weary and wear themselves out with child-bearing, it does not matter; let them go on bearing children till they die, that is what they are there for.”
    — Martin Luther, Works 20.84

  6. I’d recommend Table Talks: On the Antichrist for gems like: “Antichrist is the pope and the Turk together; a beast full of life must have a body and soul; the spirit or soul of Antichrist, is the pope, his flesh or body the Turk…” (429) or “Seeing the pope is Antichrist, I believe him to be a devil incarnate…” (430)
    That whole section could easily give you all the quotes you need on both Turks and Catholics.

  7. I’ll try to get into my books before Sunday to find some tidbits to help you out. But we definitely all want to see the result of your little search. Please make sure to share.

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