On the Jews and the Lutherans

The Elca Confronts History


Ever since the Confessing Church in Germany issued the Barmen Declaration in 1934, Lutherans, both European and American, have struggled with issues surrounding the role of the church during the rise of Nazism and World War II. Most recently, here in the United States, this struggle led in 1994 to the official condemnation by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America1 of Luther’s 1543 anti-Semitic pamphlet. Continuing along the path of repentance and reconciliation, the ELCA in April 1998 issued the draft of a document on Lutheran-Jewish relations, requesting comment from academics and clergy associated with the church. A final version was adopted on 16 November 1998.


Jewish Community Jewish People Protestant Church Official Condemnation Biblical Interpretation 
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  1. 2.
    Quoted in Richard Gutteridge, ‘German Protestantism and the Jews’, in Kulka and Mendes-Flohr(eds.), ‘Judaism and Christianity under the Impact of National Socialism, 1919–1945 (Jerusalem: Historical Society of Israel, 1987), p.234.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    See Kenneth R. Stow, ‘Hatred of the Jews or Love of the Church: Papal Policy Toward the Jews in the Middle Ages’, in Shmuel Almog, ed., Antisemitism Through the Ages (New York: Pergamon Press, 1988), pp.71–90.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    See, for instance, Immanuel Kant, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960) andGoogle Scholar
  4. Emil Fackenheim, Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy (New York: Basic Books, 1973), esp. chs 2 and 3.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    See Judith H. Banki, ‘The Image of Jews in Christian Teaching’, in Naomi W. Cohen (ed.), Essential Papers on Jewish—Christian Relations in the United States: Imagery and Reality (New York: New York University Press, 1990), 43–59, esp. p.55.Google Scholar
  6. Also, Amy Newman, ‘The Death of Judaism in German Protestant Thought from Luther to Hegel’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61/3 (Fall 1993): 455–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 22.
    Robert W. Ross, So It Was True: The American Protestant Press and the Nazi Persecution of the Jews (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), pp.17–19.Google Scholar
  8. 29.
    Samuel H. Nafzger, ‘An Introduction to The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’ (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing, 1994), p.4.Google Scholar
  9. 32.
    Donald J. Huber, ‘John H. Tietjen’, in George H. Shriver (ed.), Dictionary of Heresy Trials in American Christianity (Greenwood Press, 1997), p.423. Huber’s entry gives an excellent and detailed discussion of the liberal/conservative controversy in the Missouri Synod.Google Scholar
  10. 39.
    Harold H. Ditmanson (ed.), Stepping-Stones to Further Jewish—Lutheran Relationships: Key Lutheran Statements (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990), p.80. The last sentence quoted echoes of apologetics. It seems bizarre to imply that the ‘injustices’ referred to were secrets of a sort, when most of the evangelizing of Protestant denominations was done by ordinary folk. In addition, part of the task of the Commission on Witnessing to the Jewish People might be seen as correcting previous abuses, thus making church members aware of them in the first place.Google Scholar
  11. 43.
    Quoted in H.G. Haile, Luther: An Experiment in Biography (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980), p.292.Google Scholar
  12. 47.
    Bruce J. Lieske, ‘Witnessing to Jewish People’, (Orlando, FL.: Lutherans in Jewish Evangelism and LCMS World Mission, 1995), Appendix A, p.53.Google Scholar
  13. 48.
    Frederick C. Proehl (ed.), Marching Side by Side: Stories from Lutheran Chaplains on the Far-flung Battlefronts (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 1945), p.122.Google Scholar
  14. 49.
    Quoted in Harold Flender, Rescue in Denmark (New York: Holocaust Library, 1963), p.69.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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