Soc119 - Penn State Class Promoting Anti-Christian Messages

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by RobertPGH1981, Nov 13, 2018.

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  1. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello All,

    I came across the following post today on Facebook and wanted to gather thoughts on how one would respond to the professors claims. The class is called Soc119 and its being taught at Penn State in which it claims that it helps students "experience critical thinking when students are encouraged to think about social issues in unexpected and fresh ways." Check out the video as its about 7min long.

    The claim is that Protestant Christianity is responsible for the most reprehensible crimes against humanity (Holocaust). He supports this by using Martin Luther's work called "the jews and their lies." How would you respond to the professor if you were in his class and he promoted this content?
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I'd call him a liar who knows neither history nor the sources to which he refers.
  3. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    This raises many questions that might be discussed at length. But just this for now.

    Luther was disappointed with the failure of Jews to embrace Protestantism (as he had expected, as part of his eschatology) and poured out his vitriol on them in the wake of this failure/refusal. This was wrong and should be acknowledged as wrong. Period.

    The Nazis both used the churches (RCC and Protestant) for their own purposes and shaped Christian doctrine to suit Nazism. The Nazi interaction with the faith thus ranged from doctrinal reconstruction of Christianity to outright rejection of it (Goebbels, Himmler, etc.). The Nazis generally taught that the heroic Aryan spirit that they sought to promote was at variance with the humility of Christianity.

    Thus, while Hitler and company did appropriate Luther's writings on the Jews, they also rejected core teachings (origin of Christ, His deity, etc) of Christianity and could scarcely be said to be Christian in the way that the professor argued. Clearly, he sought to use Nazi employment of Luther to tar Protestants and not deal in any proper sense with the actual history of the times.

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  4. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    100% agree. I ended up posting comments on his video which were somehow deleted. I posted again hoping to receive replies. The entire class seems focused on promoting liberal ideologies which appear to be leaning Marxist in nature.
  5. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Why is the professor stealing from the Christian worldview in order to have moral outrage?
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  6. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    Because he has no alternative!;)

  7. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Nazism was an incoherent hodgepodge of different ideas drawn from here, there, and yonder. The fact that they appropriated Martin Luther for their purposes is thus not particularly surprising.
  8. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    And decidedly more podge than Hodge, Daniel! ;)

  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

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  10. ReformedChristian

    ReformedChristian Puritan Board Freshman

    My response to the professor would be as follows:

    1. Martin Luther's attacks on Judaism were theological in nature. If we read his earlier writings we even see he wrote a work entitled Jesus Christ the Jew which he wrote in 1523. He became frustrated over time because many Jews were rejecting Christ and was seeking their conversion and that is where much of the hostility stemmed . In contrast Hitler's attack was racial and biological on a evolutionary basis since he believed in Darwinian Evolution and Survival of the Fittest. Luther if he had been alive during that time would of objected to it.

    2. The Professor also fails to take into account that Luther had just as many harsh things to say towards the Roman Catholic Church just as much as he did concerning Judaism. Read his writings attacking the Papacy and heresies of his day they are much more colorful.

    3. The Old Testament itself even uses harsh language when it denounces Israel's idolatry see for example the book of Isaiah where God calls Israel a rebellious child (Isaiah 30:1,9. In addition the Old Testament and New Testament has harsh things to say about Gentiles as well (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Ezra 9:1-2; Romans 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:17-19).

    4. Hitler actually published his own Bible entitled Die Botschaft Gottes (The Message of God), in which all Jewish references in the New Testament were removed. In it Hitler replaced titles such as the Lamb of God and Servant with words such as Warrior in order to recreate Christ into an Aryan Freedom Fighter. In fact you can find a copy of it here:

    5. The Professor fails to realize that the writers of the New Testament and early Christians including the apostles were Jewish ie Paul and Matthew (Levi) and Peter (Simon). In fact the writers of the New Testament declared the gospel was to begin with the Jews first then expand to the non-Jewish nations (Matthew 10:5-6; Romans 1:16; Matthew 28:19-20).

    6. There were various Protestant Christians who rose up to protect the Jews from the Nazis ie Corrie Ten Boom, The Confessing Church, and The Dutch Resistance which was made up of many Protestant Reformed churches.

    7. Many of the Nazis were a mixed bag of various beliefs include the Occult, and Nordic Paganism. Think of Hitler's fascination with the Spear of Destiny which he believed contained mystical powers, the fact he talks about and deifies nature in his book Mein Kampf. Two good books which document this are Erwin Lutzer's Hitler's Twisted Cross and Richard Weikart's Hitler's Religion The Twisted Beliefs That Drove The Third Reich.

    8. Much of 19th century German Rationalism played a part as well with the rise of the Historical Jesus Quest and De-Mythologizing of the New Testament in which the Resurrection of Christ and his deity had been stripped away. Hitler himself never confessed these doctrines which according to the New Testament are foundational to the faith (Romans 10:9; 1st Corinthians 15:1-8; 12-19).
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  11. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Liberalism and Marxism at a public university? Impossible!
  12. ReformedChristian

    ReformedChristian Puritan Board Freshman

    Add that Hitler read also Arthur Schopenhauer, had a fondness for Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche. He used their doctrine of the Will To Power to gain control over the people.
  13. nickipicki123

    nickipicki123 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hold the phone! A university professor is teaching against Christianity???
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  14. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    It's counterproductive to make any apology for Luther's antisemitic writings. Just say, "He was wrong, period;... and it's also a disingenuous ploy to single Luther out, or Protestantism in general, as if he (or the movement he helped begin) was primarily or especially responsible for antisemitism."

    Antisemitism is a sin that both predated Luther, and after him was not confined to those who adhered to his views; nor did all those who did adhere to his confession (which does not support antisemitism) consent with all his views, including his later diatribe against Jews. Those who make the facile connection are partaking of the post hoc fallacy; and (apparently intending to shame present-day admirers of Luther or Protestants generally) engage in the genetic fallacy, and the ad hominen.

    The fact that after 400yrs, some anti-Christian Nazis resurrected Luther's dated religious screed for racialist propaganda value is the fallacy of anachronism. The instructor seems to favor a lazy sort of historical reductionism, as opposed to the rigor of a difficult historical analysis of complex causation.

    Antisemitism is a species of groupthink, an attempt to taint a class of otherwise ordinarily variable people with a common sin, or vice, or undesirable-to-the-accuser trait (perhaps "bred" in them, and ineradicable; or requiring some form of "penance"). How ironic, that a college instructor engages in the exercise of the very vice he finds reprehensible in Luther. The only difference is that his target is a new class of social "vermin:" the religiously minded Christian college student. "But, if you will publicly denounce your formerly hateful views, we will consider reinstating your acceptable status."
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  15. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    The post wasn't intended to surprise everybody regarding what was happening. It was intended to be an exercise in apologetics, in other words, how do we respond to arguments like the professor is stating. It was posted in the forum 'Defending the Faith'.
  16. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    The comment was intended to reveal the world view the professor is working from. Not to surprise you that he is Marxist, which I believe all is aware is being pushed in many state universities.
  17. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I know, brother. I was joking. :p
  18. James Swan

    James Swan Puritan Board Freshman

    There have been a number of researchers who conclude Luther's later anti-Jewish tracts were written from a position different than current Antisemitism. Luther was born into a society that was anti-Judaic, but it was not the current anti-Judaic type of society that bases it racism on biological factors. Luther had no objections to integrating converted Jews into Christian society. He had nothing against Jews as “Jews.” He had something against their religion because he believed it denied and blasphemed Christ. If one frames the issues with these categories, Luther was not Antisemitic.

    Post World War II though, there has been much discussion about the nuances and etymology of the term Antisemitism. The contemporary use of the word "Antisemitism" does not typically have its distinction from anti-Judaism considered. The word now has a more broad meaning including anti-Judaism. The debate centers around whether the evolved use of the term is a significant step towards describing previous history or if it's setting up an anachronistic standard for evaluating previous history. For a brief overview of this, see Eric Gritsch, Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism: Against His Better Judgment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012)]. As I've looked at this issue from time to time, I'm thinking more along the lines of Gritsch's revised view (previously, Gritsch used to put forth the theological not biological view). I accept the modern definition of Antisemitism, and I think that it does include anti-Judaism. While Luther may have been primarily against the religion of Judaism, his harsh recommendations could have effected them as human beings.

    That's a great point. Luther made polemical comments towards Rome, Islam, lawyers, the schwärmer, political leaders, etc. We don't have anything to gain by an exoneration of Luther's obvious societal stereotype against the Jews, or any of these groups. Luther was not infallible. He said a number of things ranging on the scale of brilliant to typical to ridiculous to offensive. From my perspective, Luther's theology neither stands nor falls because of statements on the negative side of the scale.

    Another good point. I did find one Lutheran writer brave enough to place Luther's anti-Jewish writings in a biblical framework. Ronald F. Marshall, Luther's Alleged Abri-Semitism. Frankly, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Marshall's approach. The author insists that Luther "favored punishments (for the Jews) first to witness to the Holy Scriptures, for Jesus himself rebuked the Jews (AE 47: 277). Second, he intended these punishments to scare the Jews straight so that they might receive God’s blessings (AE 47: 267)." It's certainly one thing for the Scriptures to do this, quite another for a society to act on it. The strength of this article is placing Luther's comments in his theological and Biblical framework, a framework Luther was fluent in. The weakness, as I see it, is that the church and state were connected in such a way during the sixteenth-century that a theologian with political powers could have acted on Luther's suggestions. In God's providence, Luther's harsh statements were not acted on, which shows at least that Protestant princes simply did not put in to practice whatever came from Luther's pen. All in all, the article is food for thought and a significant contribution to the study of this issue.

    Wow, I didn't know that!

    As I've surveyed the Luther literature, I find it interesting that in Luther studies previous to World War II, there's not as much emphasis on Luther's writings about the Jews. After World War 2, you'll find all this scrambling on linking Hitler to Luther... but it's typically selective. They'll sift through Luther's later writings to find any thing remotely connective at the expense of everything that's not connective. Hitler was not interested in Luther's paradigm of Law and Gospel. Hitler was not interested in the theology of the cross against a theology of glory. Hitler was not interested in comprehending the difference between the hidden and revealed God, the joyous exchange, the two kinds of righteousness, etc. Hitler was interested in propaganda- taking anything he could to utilize for his worldview.
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