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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The ignorance of a German church historian (Thomas Kaufmann)

It seems whole libraries have been written about the subject of Luther and the Jews.  A fairly recent publication (2008) was the book Jews, Judaism, And the Reformation in Sixteenth-century Germany, a series of essays by various authors who would call themselves either Christian or Jewish.  One of them was by Prof. Thomas Kaufmann of the University of Göttingen in Germany who:
  • is Professor of Church History 
  • has declined offers to be the Chair of Church History at other prestigious German universities
  • was called on by Dr. Robert Kolb, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, to write an introduction to his recent book
The title of Kaufmann's article is "Luther And The Jews" and is presented by the book's American editors as perhaps the one most definitive that could be considered a defense of Luther... but not too defensive.  Prof. Kaufmann's knowledge appears to be quite extensive and is one of the top scholars in the modern world on this subject.  He attempts to defend Luther against those who associate him with the Third Reich.  

However, Professor Kaufmann is seriously deficient in his knowledge of true Lutheran theologians for he states the following on pages 101-102:
There appears to be no evidence of any great influence of Luther's later polemical anti-Jewish works upon ... the leading theologians or churchmen of the nineteenth century.
So I corresponded directly with Prof. Kaufmann to see if perhaps he had not heard of C.F.W. Walther of America, the premiere Lutheran theologian of the 19th century, and that Walther had clearly taught that the Jews were lost and that God's wrath has come upon them till the end of time.  Although Kaufmann answered some other questions, he would not respond to this question.

So the greatest current German theologian (perhaps) on the subject of Luther and the Jews ignores C.F.W. Walther, The American Luther, and finds he is deficient in his field of Church History.  There is another point to be made here and that is that the premiere Lutheran theologian of the 20th Century – Franz Pieper is also ignored. Kaufmann's deficiency is to be expected because both Walther and Pieper had long ago showed the apostasy of Germany's theologians.

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