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Monday, October 24, 2011

W.H.T. Dau - his book on Luther (and Jews)

In 1917, W.H.T. Dau, a professor at Concordia Seminary, wrote a book (in English) entitled "Luther Examined and Reexamined - A Review of Catholic Criticism and a Plea for Revaluation".  This was timed during the 400th Anniversary of the Reformation and was aimed at current Catholic criticisms of Luther.  This book is in the public domain here.

Although the book has merits for it's intended purpose and should be read, it also exhibits some confusion and weakness that was starting to enter the old German Missouri Synod concurrent to the use of the English language.  I am speaking specifically about Dau's opening comments to his discussion of Luther and the Jews, pages 198ff.  He says:
One of the most pathetic spectacles which the student of medieval history has to contemplate is the treatment of the Jews at the hands of the Christians. 
and later:
The characteristic temper of the Jew in the Middle Ages, his fierce hatred of Christianity, his sullen mood, his blasphemous treatment of matters and objects sacred to Christians, are the result of the treatment he received even from the members and high officials of the Church.
One could defend Mr. Dau's remarks by saying he meant something different than he said - the term "Christianity" was meant to refer to Popery.  But the damage is done.  All those trusting hearts in the Saviour now have to question this faith because it seemingly turns them into monsters.  Dau should have chose his terms more carefully.  This is very close to how the Jews now speak of Christianity - a religion that leads to murder and the "Holocaust".

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