Why We No Longer Celebrate Reformation Day

Reformation Day is just around the corner. Up until about a year ago, I thought it was a meaningful celebration which added value to our home. I did not use Reformation Day to replace Halloween (they both occur on October 31st), but I did think this was a nice day to learn about the Protestant Reformation. We watched documentaries about Martin Luther, played “Pin the Theses on the Door” and made “Mighty Fortresses” out of legos.

Again, I thought all of this was good, and meaningful, and important. At the time, I realized that Martin Luther was sometimes rough around the edges, but I had absolutely no idea about the book, On the Jews and Their Lies, which he had written.

For several years, my family had attended reformed Baptist churches. I had learned much about Martin Luther, but I hadn’t heard about his largely banned and hidden book, written shortly before his death. During a time of really seeking the Lord and wanting to know the absolute truth about who He is, I discovered this book.

Luther begins his book by saying, “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.

Also from On the Jews and Their Lies:

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.

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 safe ­conduct 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.

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.

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.

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?

…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!

According to biographer Heinz Schilling, his “hatred, offensive abuse and violent annihilation fantasies” only increased until his death.”

Ladies, when I learned that Martin Luther wrote these things I was so grieved! I cried! I had taught my children that Luther was a “hero of the faith.” He also had a lot more to say about the Jews in his book, but for the sake of time I will leave it at that.

One doesn’t have to look far to realize that Adolf Hitler was quite fond of Martin Luther. Both were German nationalists, and Hitler was very familiar with On the Jews and Their Lies.

“It is easy to see how Luther prepared the way for Hitler.”

The late DR. WILLIAM TEMPLE Archbishop of Canterbury
(“The Archbishop’s Conference, Malvern, London, 1941, page 13).

What now?

I really sought the Lord in prayer once Luther’s views about the Jews came to my attention. In the end, I decided that I would no longer teach my children about Martin Luther. I threw away my books and material about him, and I asked the Father to forgive me of my ignorance.

A couple of Scriptures really helped me to see the error of Luther clearly.

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew….For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches.

Romans 11:1-2 and 16-18

Here Paul admonishes us to not boast against the branches (Israelites or Jews). He reiterates that God has not cast away his people. If you continue in the chapter, Paul states that all of Israel will be saved and no longer be blind to the truth in Messiah once the fullness of the gentiles have come into the fold.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27

As believers, we are admonished to be gentle to all. To turn the other cheek, and love our enemies. (Not that I think the Jews are our “enemies.” May it never be! But since Luther did consider the Jews to be enemies, I thought I would mention this here.) The Lord instructs us to speak evil of no one, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:2

Our Messiah did not fight against his accusers. He was gentle and humble. This is the example we should follow.

Since Martin Luther did not do these things, our family has chosen to mark and avoid his teachings.

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

1 Timothy 6:3-5

For us, this is hard, but needful. Even if most of Luther’s teachings appear to be holy and good, I believe he was a false teacher. We must use discernment. My Biblical studies have led me farther and farther away from the teachings of men, and I usually simply study Scripture for myself now. I use Scripture to interpret Scripture. I can’t even begin to tell you what blessings this has brought to my life.

Please don’t take my word for it. Study this out and take it to the Father. He will lead and guide us when we humble ourselves and truly seek Him.

13 thoughts on “Why We No Longer Celebrate Reformation Day

  1. Oh my! Please reconsider! Luther was a fallen man, just like David, Solomon, Abraham, Lot, Moses, Peter, Paul, etc… Luther is a hero of the faith and we should very much appreciate his courage and the amazing way God used him to return people to the true Gospel. What he said was quite horrible and is not something we should ignore. But, this gives you the perfect opportunity to teach your children that first, we must not make more of fallen men than what they are. We should not present any human as sinless, perfect, or idolize them. We must always present every great person of history honestly as sinful humans who need the Savior and sanctification just like every one of us. To present it any other way is to distort history, the person, and the Gospel. Second, although a person is depraved and always battling our flesh, God still loves us and can use us to further His kingdom. Third, Martin Luther is a wonderful example of although we are saved by God’s grace, we are always battling sin and, at times, we may fall and fall hard. We must continue to pursue perfection but we can rest in God’s mercy and grace. Fourth, we must always take care to consider how our words may be understood and used. We must care to season our speech with God’s love, always watch over ourselves, and pray that God would keep us from similar sinful actions. But, in the end, we can rest in Christ’s saving work that, although we will sin big time in this life, God still has hold of our soul. Finally, we do a disservice to everyone, not just children, when we do not teach them about the good, the bad, & the ugly of history, including the good, the bad, & the ugly about every hero of the faith. To ignore the good and the bad about Luther is to paint a false view of the man. To ignore him altogether is to distort history and cover over the actions and purposes of God in the use of this giant of history. Your children will learn about Luther, it is better for them to learn all sides of the man coming at him with honest eyes than for them to get a distorted picture of him in the future.

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    1. Hi! Thank you for stopping by. To my knowledge, this was Luther’s stance on his death bed. He did not repent or recant, which makes him a false teacher in my opinion. The difference in David, Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul, etc. is that they showed deep repentance for their sin. The kingdom was taken from Solomon due to his sin. The Lord definitely can use us despite our shortcomings, but the influence Luther had on Nazi Germany is just too much for me to consider him a hero of the faith. To be perfectly honest, the Protestant church has kept a huge amount of Catholic teachings and traditions in their churches, and I now teach my children instead of “reforming” the Catholic Church (which is what the Reformers did), we should look to the New Testament Assembly in Scripture as our guide. I now think the Reformation caused a lot of confusion and division, which is not from the Lord. How many hundreds of “denominations” are there now? That being said, I believe the Lord can absolutely use all things for His glory, and we absolutely are all fallen. I’m so thankful for His love and grace.

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      1. I disagree with your interpretation of what a false teacher is. We will all go to our death bed with some incorrect theology/teaching/belief, some even quite sinful. Thankfully, God does not base our eternity with Him based on having a perfect theology or being sinless at the moment of our death. If God doesn’t reject the use of a person based on not being perfect, I don’t feel like I am in any position to make that judgment. I also find it very ungracious to hold the sins of unbelievers committed hundreds of years later against him. What he did was sinful but that doesn’t negate the good he did or make his previous teachings wrong, irrelevant, or something that shouldn’t be taught or celebrated.

        Division and disunity against false teachers is from God. There is a Godly unity but there is also a Godly disunity. I, personally see the Reformation bringing much clarity to what the RCC had shrouded in mystery. The numbers of denominations is a very common RCC argument against Protestantism and has been refuted many times. The number of denominations has much to do with our sinfulness but little to do with the validity of the Reformation.

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      2. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. But advising in a real way for a certain people group to have their homes and places of worship destroyed and their safety negated and exiled does not fall into the category of “false theology.” Just my opinion. We must judge a teacher’s fruit against Scripture. This is a Biblical mandate.

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  2. I’m just wondering what led him to write what he did, turning on the Jews. This is the first I’ve ever heard of this pamphlet. When I googled Martin Luther, the information given stated that he tried to win them to the Lord. You’ve said that he wrote this later in life shortly before his death. It honestly is horrifying to think that this pillar in the faith wrote something that was the basis for that mad man, Adolf.
    It absolutely convinces me that we need to finish strong in this life. What we do for Christ in our old age matters just as much as in our youth. We need to be ever mindful that who we listen to in sermons or on the radio and what we read in Bible study pamphlets actually lines up with the Word of God.
    Thankyou for this. I will share with my husband.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. From my research, when Luther came to the end of his life and fully realized that the Jews he came across were not going to accept the Christian faith as he presented it, he turned on them. I read he was a “sick and cranky old man.” I actually ordered “On the Jews and Their Lies” on Amazon to substantiate the claims, and it is a full-fledged book. I couldn’t get through the wretched thing, but verified quotes.

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  3. This was very interesting, Nicole. Thank you for posting this! I didn’t know that Martin Luther had such strong feelings against the Jews, though it seems to me that I had heard about his adhering to “Replacement Theology” (that Christians have supposedly replaced Israel) which I have always disagreed with.

    I wonder if it is wise to dismiss all things Martin Luther because of some things he taught that were wrong. For example, his opposition to Indulgences: wasn’t he right about that? Or that we are justified by faith and not by works? I think I agree with A Narrow-minded Woman about this. Too bad he didn’t recant. But, perhaps if he had not died so soon afterwards, he may have, who knows?

    I’ve come to realize that people will often disappoint. For example, there are some pastors whom I really admire and respect who teach sound biblical doctrine in many areas, but who don’t follow the Bible’s teaching on allowing children into our lives as blessings. This is heart-breaking to me. Do I dismiss them entirely as false teachers because they don’t receive children as blessings and use birth control–and teach others to do as they do? I could say the same about the headcovering issue: there are many pastors who do not adhere to this teaching, but whom I nevertheless respect for their other teachings. How do I deal with that tension?

    In my own life, I’ve come to the conclusion that we, as human beings will often have only partial understanding of some issues, and as a result will sometimes misunderstand things. I try to have grace for other people’s shortcomings and misunderstandings. I try to have patience with them while praying that God will help them see these issues more clearly. I know that I myself have been wrong about some things in the past. That’s not to dismiss the danger of those false beliefs, of course. Those false ideas can do a lot of damage! And I understand that sometimes people’s misunderstandings are based more on their not wanting to change more than on any lack of knowledge. I absolutely agree that we need to base our beliefs on the Bible and not on what other people think.

    I really, really hope you don’t think I’m criticizing your decision. I understand why you chose to do what you did. And I agree with you that we need to avoid false teachings and those who teach them. These are just some thoughts that came to my mind as I was reading your very helpful article. 🙂
    ~Jessica

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    1. Hey Jessica! My main problem with the materials that I tossed is that they all portrayed Luther in an amazing light. I did not want them in my home.

      After a whole lot of study and growth over the past year, I honestly do not consider myself to be Protestant. (I’m still working this out before the Lord with fear and trembling!) My faith isn’t based on a protest of the Catholic faith, but the faith portrayed in Scripture. Paul called it “the Way.” I now am as Torah observant as I can be, think the Sabbath is Saturday, observe the Biblical feasts, do not eat unclean food, etc. because I want to walk as Jesus walked and He was our perfect example. So I do not feel that personally, the Reformation was necessarily a “good” thing, in that it caused a lot of division and the Catholic Church did not need to be reformed. Instead, believers needed to go back to the New Testament example. When I teach my children that we are justified by faith alone, I just need to go to Scripture where this is clearly taught. I do not need to teach them real truths of the faith and credit them to Martin Luther. The truths of Scripture are clearly found in Scripture, and that is where credit is due.😊

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    2. Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see the entirety of your comment!😊 Personally, I would not listen to nor endorse a teacher who used any type of chemical birth control which could cause an abortion, since this is murder. I would endorse a teacher who did not believe in head covering since head covering is not clearly written about in the law except the brief mention in Numbers. (Scripture states that sin is lawlessness. My current understanding is that the whole of Scripture gives instructions for righteousness, but the law is what outlines sin. I show grace to a teacher for anything other than sin.) If I see clear sin in a teacher’s life, I mark and avoid. We should definitely show grace towards others, but God’s Word says that teachers are held to a higher standard/will be judged more harshly, and we should mark and avoid those who speak against the truth. Just my opinion. Blessings!

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  4. Hi, Nicole, good morning!
    I wrote a reply last night, but it didn’t post. So, this new comment could replace that one if it ended up in the spam file (as I’ve noticed can happen sometimes).

    I very much appreciate your response to my previous comment, and will certainly give the things you brought up some more thought. I think it’s wonderful to have met another Christian lady who is dedicated to living fully for Christ! Thank you for your very thought-provoking articles. I look forward to reading more!
    ~Jessica

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    1. Good morning, Jessica! I consider it a blessing to know you and converse with you. It is a joy to know I’m not alone in my desire to live fully for Christ. ❤️ Thank you so much for your kindness, and I’ll check my spam folder for your other comment.

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  5. Hi Nicole,
    I was raised Baptist and converted to Catholicism after much study of the original Church and its teachings. Before my conversion I did a lot of research on Martin Luther and his teachings. Obviously he is not looked at fondly in our eyes. But as others have said, he was a flawed man. I’ve heard it said that he still went to confession and begged to receive the Eucharist on his death bed. It’s hard to feel bad for him but at the same time, he just seemed never content no matter the situation. I guess like you said “cranky”.

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