Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"It's hard to manufacture victory" -- Michael Spencer

On the trip to the mountains last weekend I read our dear, late, friend Michael Spencer's book "Mere Churchianity".

I found the book at times a bit confused and grew impatient with it then, however, it is a worthwhile book for the very real insights.  We always knew that Michael had great insight, therefore, we loved talking with him on his blog.

This is a little section from p. 130, 131.

Soon after I committed my life to Christ, this sort of thing just about pushed me over the edge.  Preachers preached about victorious Christians and song lyrics celebrated it.  Book titles promised it in a few easy steps.  some people would stand up and give a testimony:  "I'm living it!  I'm living the victorious Christian life!"  They, of course, were good Christians.
but what about me?  I felt like a regular, run-of-the-mill Christian.  How could I be victorious and not just ordinary?
I did my best to follow what the preacher said on Sunday mornings.  I had accepted Jesus into my heart and prayed the recommended prayer.  I'd made a public profession of faith and been baptized.  I had a Bible.  I came to church.  I prayed... a little.  I tried to be a good witness, but I could plainly see that I wasn't living the "victorious" life.
I was still a lot like I was before I became a Christian.  I had the same sins, the same habits, and the same problems.  What was wrong?
Whenever I'd ask about it, the answers were always the same.  I hadn't  "totally surrendered."  I hadn't "given all."  I wasn't "trusting God" completely.  I needed to have an "intimate" and powerful "daily time with God."  I wasn't praying in the will of God.
I grew up attending a church that followed in the revivalist tradition.  The preacher insisted that we have constant experiences of and encounters with God, so the weekly exhortation was always, "are you sure you are a fully surrendered Christian?  Are you living in total victory over sin?  Have you done everything you can to be the best Christian you c an be?"
Measured by this standard, I was a miserable failure.  A loser with a capital L.  As more qualifiers and conditions were stuck on to what it meant to be a Christian, the worse it became for me.  I had never gone a day without sinning, or even ten minutes.  To make it even worse, the full responsibility to ramp up a victorious Christian life fell squarely on me, not on Christ and the transforming power of the gospel.  The preaching I heard every Sunday reminded me that god would help me out only after I did all the right things.  (But why would I need his help if I could manage, completely on my own, to do everything right?)
I concluded that either I wasn't living the Christian life or someone wasn't telling the truth.  I'd give it my best shot, trying even harder to get started right in living the Christina life.  I'd fail again.  Then I'd begin again, making big promises and resolutions.  This time I'd really get on top of things.  My seesaw approach to being a Christian was an every week event.  One more prayer, one more trip to the altar, one more big experience at a revival meeting, one more surrender or dramatic religious experience.

Michael describes us all.  We are all "trying" and it's not working like we think it should.  When I was trying, I did not know if I was a "Christian" at all, never mind a victorious one.  In German, a "Christ" sounds so lofty, someone who really follows Christ.  You could be "Katholisch" or you could be "Evangelisch".  This was easy.  It was your denomination.  You go to church more or less often and go to the appropriate religion class in school.  But to be a "Christian" was just something so lily-white pure, I would never have said it about myself without scruples.

The struggle Michael describes goes on after you are a Christian--a real Christian.  You start over and over and over and you are forgiven over and over and over.  This is what keeps you on your knees before the living God, who alone is righteous.   This is the right place to be in, on your knees.

However, through our Lord Jesus Christ, indeed we have the "victory".  What is this victory?  That we now are superhuman?  Certainly not. The victory is Christ's;  he has overcome sin, death and the devil, and his righteousness has become our own.  In the battle against sin, we look to his victory.  We live in this battle and we live in this victory at the same time.

We also call this "simul justus et peccator" being at the same time and completely a "saint" and a "sinner".  Both fully describe us:  we are "saints" by virtue of Christ's victory and gift and we are "sinners" due to our constant failure to live up to the standards.   We are not left to our own devices in this battle, though.  Daily we return to seek Christ's forgiveness.  We remember that we have been baptized where we have been marked as God's very own, washed clean and sanctified. We are not trying to, nor able to, earn this.   As often as possible we go to church to hear the powerful words of Christ:  "Your sins are forgiven."  As often as we can, we take his body and blood to know truly that we have been incorporated into his body and we are truly his own.   Daily, as we find that we are not "victorious" in ourselves, we return to the "victory" Christ won.  (Thanks be to God.)

So much for summer break...

Have been commenting here and here dealing mostly with Calvinism.





Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The summer is so short here, I think I will take a complete break from the blog until fall/winter.

Meanwhile, I'll try and get through the books I have on the go, which is the remaining Brecht and two Obermans, the new book on Natural Law, and M. Carver's Valerius Herberger.  Also, I'm reading some Walther to my husband.  On top of that a friend lent me two huge novels and someone else some Dostoevsky.  These will easily take me to the fall.

Blessed, safe travels and summer.  Visit me by e-mail, FB, or even better, in person!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Luther and the Jews, Part 4, Evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah

In the last post we indicated that Luther's disagreements with the Rabbis over Messianic prophesies were very intense and disappointing for him.  In the end the Rabbis would retreat to tradition on top of it.  Hopeless for him in the end.

I am landscaping while the weather is good, but I'll post one of Rev. Fisk's videos here which I thought was very good, as most of them are.  It deals with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They had lost their faith in Jesus and were very sad.  He chastised them and opened their eyes proving to them from scripture what the Messiah was like.  This is, of course, the right thing to do, especially with Jewish people and the method Paul also employed everywhere he went.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Luther and the Jews, Part 3, Jews harming Christians?

One of the things Luther complains about to Josel of Rosheim  in his letter is the oppression of Christians by Jews-- the reverse of what we usually hear.  My guess is that largely we are talking about money matters, as illustrated in the image in the last post, but also possibly because of supposed interference with converts and the preaching of evangelical freedom.  

Since Jews were restricted from land ownership and participating in the guilds, they tended to be involved in money-lending, medicine and begging, we also heard already.  The right to charge high interest was obtained from the emperor who exacted fees from the Jews in return.  This obviously could and must have led to some very bad situations and enmity, putting the Jew into predatory lending practices. 

How this is viewed is illustrated by Ruth Gay quoting Hans Sachs “Eigentliche Beschreibung aller Staende auf Erden” (True Description of all the Classes on the Earth),  Frankfurt , 1568:

It is not for nothing that I am called a Jew.
I lend only half the money against a pledge.
And if the pawner cannot redeem it in time
Then I get that as well.
In this way I ruin the loose-living mob
That wants only to feast, to gorge, and to drink.
Yet my trade does not diminish
Since I have many brothers like me.
 Hans Sachs’s True Description of all the Classes on the Earth (1568) shows where the Jew stood in sixteenth-century society.  The ranking begins with the pope and descends through kings, emperors, princes, merchants, craftsmen, and agricultural laborers, ending with a representation of three fools.  Somewhere near the end of this catalog we find “the Jew”, who is depicted as a moneylender.  Although he may have been regarded with scorn, the poem attributed to him reveals that he had his own low opinion of his clients.
 (Ruth Gay, p. 166.) 

This "low opinion" of the clients is interesting.  It reveals disdain that needs to be present to have such a relationship of lending at high price.  You cannot be a compassionate pawner or loan shark.

Wikipedia simply has this on “loan-sharks”: 
A loan shark is a person or body that offers unsecured loans at high interest rates to individuals, often enforcing repayment by blackmail or threats of violence.
Throughout history, usury laws made loan sharks commonplace.[clarification needed] Many moneylenders skirted between legal and extra-legal activity. In the recent western world, loan sharks have been a feature of the criminal underworld, but are otherwise rare. Loan sharks are common in theUK[citation needed]and among the Sicilian Mafia[citation needed] and Triads in China.[citation needed]

We see that “clarification is needed” in connection with "usury", but I think we have provided some here.  One does wonder what were the means employed for actually collecting money.  We recall also the story of Lippold, (who was tortured and quartered in the end).  He had oppressed and ruined his own family and community members with his practices.

So, no doubt, whether more or less legitimate, and if even practiced in a reputable manner, the arrangement was obviously open to profound abuse.  And even if the reputation might have been good, the change of favour of a noble could destroy your life.  On both sides, the unfairness in the system could spill over into very bad blood. Neither side could easily carry much love for the other.  What a predicament.  Too bad Josel of Rosheim could not negotiate something else from the emperor rather than this permission to charge high interest rates.

One can even imagine that a kingdom such as Saxony would strive to keep such individuals out of its territory for simply such reasons or rumors. Every which way the kingdom was being gouged. I am thinking also of the church with its money grabbing theology of indulgences, masses and so on.  The country was virtually being plundered.  Saxony did not even have such fair rules and protection from the papal church as France had.  (I've read this several times, but don't know the details of this.)  

Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain had already before this time expelled the Jews from their lands.  Luther was not the first one to suggest expulsion.  Expulsion was something less severe than simply killing, but many were killed by these expulsions.  It seems like none wanted to see how serious expulsion is.  Reading about the Jews of Spain made me cry.

The Spanish Jews, gleaning from the second report, were land owners and artisans, thus one would expect that they were not money-lenders.  The reason given by Isabella and the Inquisition  for the expulsion was that the Jews were interfering with converts to Christianity and preventing them from becoming good Christians.  God had put the idea into the King's head and therefore the expulsion was right, said Isabella.

Luther cites a similar concern for Christians and worry over Judaising.  We read about this in Brecht.
“In the fall of 1532 Luther had already learned, probably from Joachimsthal, that a new sect had arisen in Moravia, which insisted on keeping the Sabbath instead of the Sunday.  Presumably, its adherents came from circles of the biblicistic Anabaptists.  Nothing is known about a direct connection between the Sabbatarians and the Jews.  Neither can any proselytizing by the Jews be established.  It is possible that Luther may have received exaggerated reports.  For him, the action of the Sabbatarians was a relapse into Jewish legalism.  His rejection of Josel of Rosheim’s request for support with the elector was connected with the spread of the Sabbatarians in Moravia, who reportedly were practicing circumcision as well.  This was significant proof for Luther of the aggressive obduracy of the Jews.  In February 1538 Luther was lecturing on Genesis 17, the institution of circumcision.  The significance of this eternal covenant of God with Israel was a problem for him.  In this context he had to take issue with the Sabbatarians in order to respond to their agitation.  Out of this exegetical work grew his letter Against the Sabbatarians, published in March.  It was intended for Count Wolf Schlick of Falkenau (near Karlsbad), who had asked Luther to supply arguments with which to refute the Sabbatarians.  Luther advised against a direct exegetical confrontation with the Jews, which could hardly win the Jews, for in Luther’s experience of years past, they would when necessary retreat from the text of the Bible to the rabbinic interpretations.  What was necessary, therefore, was to strengthen Christians. “ (p. 337, 338.)
Hence we see that Luther’s perception was that one could not reason with the Jews, since that had been tried, and that Christian teaching was under attack by them.  He had lost hope of discussing these matters with the Rabbis.

In the next post, we will look at Luther’s frustrations with the Rabbis and the disagreements over Biblical interpretation, especially Messianic prophecies.  This was, of course, the centre of the problem theologically. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Luther and the Jews, Part 2, Josel of Rosheim

Josel of Rosheim seems to have been an accomplished man of great courage and influence who was able to help the Jews of Europe before and during Luther's time.

Ruth Gay has this about him on p. 84:

The model of the court Jew was Josel of Rosheim.  Although he was born in Alsace, Josel's powers of persuasion were so efficacious that he was importuned for help by Jewish communities in places as distant as Bohemia, Saxony, Silesia, and Hungary.  Born Joseph Ben Gershom at the end of the fifteenth century (ca. 1478), he lost his father at the early age of six.  The family had paid bloody dues to the superstitions of the time:  three of Josel's uncles were condemned to a grisly execution in 1470 following a blood libel in a celebrated case in Endingen.  We can only conjecture about the effect of this somber background, but we know that Josel must have had a remarkable presence, because he was early prevailed upon to intercede for Jewish communities in trouble.  In 1520, at the coronation of Charles V, Josel managed to procure a letter of protection from the new emperor for the Jews in German lands.  Accorded honorary titles by grateful Jewish communites, he became their single most important spokesman against the recurrent blood libels, the ever more violent denunciations of Luther, and the calumnities that regularly threatened the continuity of Jewish settlements.
During the sixteenth century a rather more indirect form of attack--staged disputations between learned Christians and Jews--was at the height of its popularity...
While Josel earned his living as a money-changer, his commercial activities fade against his lifelong service as an intercessor.  He was also, as we have seen, an intellectual representative of Jewish thought and belief to the Christian world as well as a scholar securely within the Jewish tradition.  He wrote philosophical works on ethics and even an autobiography shortly before his death in 1554.  Both in his influence and in the use of his powers, this remarkable man, who won such favor with Charles V that he and his family were given permission to travel and settle where ever they chose, was unique among court Jews.
Ruth Gay also presents information about the lives of two, not as illustrious court Jews,  Lippold and Joseph Suesskind.  We will quote her regarding Lippold and leave you to look up Suesskind's story.

Unfortunately, Josel's memory neither improved the character nor protected the life of the court Jew Lippold, the rapacious accomplice of the elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, who came into prominence at the time of Josel's death. Lippold moved to Berlin from Prague around 1550 as mint master for Joachim, collector of his taxes, and manager of the privy purse.  He also charged extortionate sums for private loans--sometimes as much as 50 percent.
As the confidant of Joachim, he was appointed governor of the Jewish community.  He tyrannized over the Jews, extorted money from them and did not scruple to rob the widow and children of his brother.  Although he managed to accumulate a great fortune, whether by legitimate or illegitimate means, he was not the richest of the bankers or purveyors to the court; he was only the most hated.
It was Lippold's intimate personal relationship with Joachim that caused his downfall.  On the night of the prince's sudden death (January 3, 1571) witnesses testified that they had seen Lippold hand him a goblet of wine.  Johann, the prince's son and successor, who had reason to loathe Lippold for what he perceived as his pernicious influence over his father, needed no better evidence.  On that very night he ordered th gates to Berlin barred to prevent Lippold's escape.  Lippold was arrested and charged with murder;  a rich arsenal of torture instruments produced a confession.  Although he subsequently retracted his words, it was too late;  on January 28, 1573, he was drawn and quartered in the presence of an avid multitude, and the Jews of Berlin were once again banished from the city.  The fate of the court Jew was, then, no private matter; a fallen court Jew could carry a whole community down to destruction with him.  However execrated he may have been, Lippold dead brought a worse fate on the heads of his fellow Jews than Lipppold alive.

As mentioned before the position of "court Jew" brought with it responsibilities, powers, dangers and prominence which affected the individual and community alike for serious good or bad.  The intercession of a respected individual could defend from allegations and intended evil, whereas a fallen or disrespected individual could bring great harm.

The fact that Jewish individuals were so limited in what occupations they could engage in, caused many to be involved in money-lending.  We can imagine all the negative feelings which could be aroused by this occupation where Christians were not allowed to participate in "usury".  Josel had obtained permission from Charles V that Jews would be allowed to charge much higher interest rates than Christians because they could not engage in other work and were required to pay higher taxes.  Here we see the bind:  Jews need to make a living.  They made it often through money-lending, since they were limited in their options.  They had to charge this interest to people who worked hard physically and also tried to make a living, perhaps at times squeezing it from stones, so to speak, so they could hand their own taxes to the Emperor.  We can see that the Emperor who protected the Jews also was rewarded through this arrangement.  This worked, in a way, for all involved, except for those who paid the high interest rates.  One can understand their feeling of oppression.

This image appears later on on Ruth Gay's book.  I am sure I have no copyright, so I will print it the smallest I can.  It says:  "O God, thou giver of the good and true, Save me from this very Jew."  We see the farmer with his scythe, obviously a hard working family man, in front of the farm which has crosses on top of the roof, (so now we know it is a hardworking Christian man) with the Jew approaching, well dressed in black, in aggressive posture.  It looks like he is going to force money out of the hard working, Christian, family man, farmer.

This is just to illustrate the chain of pressures placed on people.  And this is just one of the complexities.

To illustrate this a little further, again from Ruth Gay, pp. 165 and 166:

How the Jews made their living by the time of the empire [Prussian] had been determined long before by a history of permissions and prohibitions.  Their exclusion from landownership had made them traders rather than cultivators in rural districts, and their exclusion from the guilds had made them middlemen rather than craftsmen.  Above all, Jews had been identified with the lending and exchange of money, as Hans Sachs showed in his True Description of All the Classes on Earth, published in 1568.  It was a place in the world that had endured for a very long time.  Even Moses Mendelssohn wrestled with these constraints as he confided to a friend about his son Joseph.  "He has no inclination for medicine," he wrote in 1785, "and as a Jew he must become a physician, a merchant, or a beggar."  Begging was, indeed, a fixture in Jewish life.  For centuries the Jewish condition had insured that there were a very small number of rich Jews and an overwhelming number of poor ones.  The beggars, in fact, formed a caste unto themselves with carefully apportioned territories, rights, and expectations.  The schnorrer, as he was called in Yiddish, who was the subject of endless jokes and legends, was at once a beggar and more than that.  In his circuit of villages and houses, he brought news of the world, gossip, and commercial information...  As late as the mid-nineteenth century, half the Jews of Germany were either beggars or a step away from it, without a permanent right of residence.

These prohibitions had been in place for a long time.  The money-lending could never be popular.  The medicine could be suspicious, and all this before modern medicine and a scientific approach.   A beggar and a wandering "schnorrer" would really be a kind of vagabond.  Thus we understand that the Jew was forced into an unenviable position of severe limitation, inviting ostracism, abuse and anger.

The Jew was also under the protection of the Emperor rather than the local nobles.  This would cause other frictions and understandably in Lutheran lands, who were under threat of Charles V themselves. During the Schmalkadic war, the Jews provided sustenance to Charles V's troops.

Back to Josel of Rosheim:  this is what Martin Brecht has regarding his interactions with Luther.

In 1533 Luther showed an understanding of why the Jews had not been won by the papacy, and he hoped to convince many of them by preaching the gospel.  In contrast, however, he thought debating with them held no promise. Since 1432 Jews had been forbidden to take up permanent residence in Electoral Saxony.  It is unclear why Elector John Frederick issued a mandate at the beginning of August 1536 that prohibited them from staying there, engaging in business, or passing through...
In 1537 Josel of Rosheim, who at the time served as sort of a spokesman for Jews in Germany, tried to persuade Elector John Frederick to rescind the mandate of the previous year.  A recommendation from Luther would gain him an audience with the elector.  Wolfgang Capito interceded with Luther on Josel's behalf.  this may ot have beenthe first time that Josel had written to Luther.  Luther declined to support Josel's cause with the elector because his advocacy of the Jews in That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew had  been misused and the Jews had called Christians "apostates".  Luther was still in favor of benevolent treatment of the Jews, in order to win them for the Messiah, but he would no nothing to confirm them in their error.  He mentioned that he was intending to write a new pamphlet for this purpose.  He had been asked to do so years earlier.
Luther attempted to explain to Josel that the Gentiles, who were enemies of the Jews, would not worship the Jewish king, not to mention a crucified Jew, if God had not done this.  The Jews' suffering would come to an end only if they joined with the Gentiles in accepting this Christ, their "cousin and Lord."  Luther mentioned the rejection of Christ in the rabbinic writings.  For him, this was a continuation of the persecution of the saints and prophets in the Old Testament by their own people.  It was unmistakable for Luther that the messianic prophecies could refer only to Christ.  Finally, Luther maintained:  "For the sake of the crucified Jew, whom no one will take from me, I gladly wanted to do my best for you Jews, except that you abused my favor and hardened your hearts."
Luther's letter to Josel has been seen as a turning point in his attitude toward the Jews, but this is hardly accurate.  A little later Luther praised the advantages of the chosen people, although he did not fail to mention that they were of no avail before God.  In the letter to Josel itself he stated his positive interest in winning the Jews to the Messiah.  Alongside this was a polemic against the rabbis who rejected the Messiah.  He also mentioned negative experiences of Jewish agitation against Christians.  This situation must have existed for several years.  Thus the letter to Josel did not indicate a break.  Incidentally, the elector's mandate of 1536 was modified in 1539 through Josel's intervention, so that Jews were again permitted to travel through Electoral Saxony.  (Brecht.  Luther:  The Preservation of the Church.  p. 336, 337.)

So much for today.  More can be found about Josel of Rosheim on wikipedia and other places.
On this site, a little further down are pictures of the synagogue and the church in Rosheim, Alsace.  The church of the middle ages features a figure of a Jew with the moneybag. This is both indicative and sad.
Josel of Rosheim's autobiography might be very good reading, if it is available.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Luther and the Jews, Part 1, "Anthony Margaritha"

We will be looking at Luther and the Jews because this topic comes up all over the internet.  This is very sad to me personally in regard to Luther-studies because Luther is really about the Gospel and not  about vitriol against Jews--but yet wrote what he wrote.  It is apparently undeniable.  I have myself wondered how he could say such horrible things.  And based on my own interest in the subject this investigation is justified though some might ask me why I don't occupy myself with more enjoyable subjects.

I think getting Luther's words into some kind of context, helps us know more about anti-Semitism through the centuries.  Also, while understanding the context will not mean condoning his words and their impact or possibility of impact, it will make things make more sense.  Just the idea, that "anti-Semitism" could in any way shape or form make any sense at all will be offensive to some.  I have no intention of offending anyone and I will take your commentary.  However, opening one's eyes to more of history and more of human thoughts and trying to understand is always useful, even with such a subject.  Personally, I am not an anti-Semite nor a holocaust denier or anything in this vein.

I will be relying mostly on Martin Brecht and on Ruth Gay, whose books I have in front of me.

I will be using the word "Jew" freely instead of going to words such as "Israelite", "Hebrew", etc., mostly because the books I am reading are not avoiding it and because I do not see it negatively myself.

In Ruth Gay's book we are introduced to Gabriel Risser, a Jewish political thinker active during the first half of the19th century in Germany.  He had this to say about the word "Jew":

"Risser's boldness in political thinking showed itself as early as 1832, when he founded a magazine with the daring title 'Der Jude' .  At a point when Jews were attempting to substitute less pejorative terms such as 'israelisisch' or 'mosaisch', Riesser's title elicited a flood of letters to the editor.  He acknowledged the hatred that was bound up with the use of the name, but it was the anti-Semite, not the Jew, who needed to change.  'Is it not the responsibility of those who hate,' he asked, 'to fight against the hatred and cast it off, if it is ever to end?  Should we [Jews] deny this ancient and honorable name in order to please those who hate it?" (The Jews of Germany, Ruth Gay, p. 148.)
This makes sense to me.  I will use the word "Jew" and I will use it with all love and respect.  My Luther professor says "Hebrews".  But this seems stilted to me.

I will not go here into any mea culpas about the holocaust, as a German by birth and a Lutheran by faith.  Anti-Semitism is a nasty product of human sinfulness and fear resulting in told, untold and profound suffering.  I condone none of it none of which I have read about.  It is simply not justified or justifiable.   I am sorry about it the way we are all sorry about human suffering and injustice.

In real life, I have not known many Jews because neither where I grew up in Germany nor in Edmonton simply have I met many.  During my University years I had one Jewish girl friend.  She was from Russia, but non-observant.  The only other connection I have is the synagogue in the town where I was born.  There are no more Jews there and my Aunt Christa belongs to a society which takes care of the synagogue.  Here is a picture of it from my last trip to Germany.

It is unspeakably sad that only the building is there in and the people are gone.  At the very least it is being kept in good repair.

So much by way of introduction.  Only, one more thing:  it is the words of Jesus Christ which stick in my head, that "this generation" will not pass away until the end of the days.  This is most certainly true.  Against all kind of odds this community has continued to exist and to thrive.

I do not wish to offend anyone, but no doubt some will take offense.  I am sorry about it in advance.

For a start lets have a look at the "convert" Anthony Margaritha, who influenced Luther's views significantly.  From the Christian perspective he is called a "convert", from the Jewish perspective an "apostate".   There have been such individuals all through history, and often these individuals have contributed to a negative view of Jewry.  As former "insiders" of a close-knit community they have their own point of view and have written books to inform others about Judaism.  Whether these views are fair or not are not easy for others to assess.  In a way it is understandable that the group to which they have moved would be eager to read and digest any criticisms. Anthony Margaritha wrote a book, which I would not mind reading, if I came across it, to just see what exactly he wrote.  In any case, Luther read him several times and before he wrote "On Jews and Their Lies"  and "Against the Sabbatarians"  (we already read about the Sabbatarians in the last post).

"The task of Christians, therefore, was to lead Jews out of their errors and show them the right way.  Jonas believed that Luther's work did this, and it had even impressed duke George of Saxony.  Jonas therefore wanted the work to be regarded as serving a missionary purpose, not an apologetic one.  Nevertheless, Luther fails to demonstrate the positive interest in the Jews that Jonas expressed in his preface.
Sentiments of this sort were not unknown to Luther at that time, but he emphasized in this context that the Jews had condemned themselves by rejecting the Messiah.  For him, Jesus 'prophecy of the destruction of the Temple was proof that the worship of the Jews and their reign had come to an end, but the Jews would not accept this.  In 1539 Luther read a book published in 1530 by the Jewish Christian, Anthony Margaritha, The Whole Jewish Faith, Together with a Thorough and Truthful Account of All the Regulations, Ceremonies, and Prayers Both for Family and Public Worship, as Observed by the Jews throughout the Year, with excellent and Well-founded arguments against their Faith, out of which in part he drew his critical arguments against the Jews.  Reading it confirmed for him their blindness, which wanted nothing to do with faith and justification through faith, thus making them like the papists.  He thought it dangerous for Christians to have Jewish doctors treat them."  (Brecht, p. 339)

Ruth Gay has this about Anthony Margaritha, which makes me wonder about the man and his motivations:

"During the 16th century a rather more indirect form of attack--staged disputations between learned Christians and Jews --was at the height of its popularity.  Entertainment and trial rolled into one, these disputations had begun in the fourth century, in the time of Constantine, and were often a ceremonial prelude to expulsions and the destruction of Jewish life and property.  In 1530 a learned apostate, Antonius Margaritha, published a book describing Jewish belief and practices in which he claimed, among other strange distortions, that the Jews of the German lands prayed three times a day, and especially on the Day of Atonement, for the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire and the letting of Christian blood.  Charles V ordered a disputation to be held in June of the same year, on the occasion of an assembly of the court in Augsburg, and Josel was bidden to appear to defend his fellow Jews and Jewish practices against the slanders of Margaritha.  Unlike most disputations, this one ended with Margaritha, rather than the Jewish community,l banished from Augsburg at the behest of Charles V."

Josel is someone else we may need to talk about sometime.  Anyhow, Margaritha seems to have promulgated the blood libel accusations against the Jews, which has been a favorite throughout the centuries and to which I don't give any credence for a moment.  This does make one wonder about Margaritha.

The convert/apostate has always found himself in a strange position belonging not to either camp completely meaningfully.  Famous literary converts of the 19th century gave expression to this.

"Boerne who committed his life to political polemics, is now largerly forgotten, as are his essays.  But he represents many Jews who believed that the adoption of Christianity erased memory.  Baptized Jews soon found themselves in a no-man's land, outside the Jewish community and yet never entirely members of the larger world.  They remained Jewish Christians to the end of their days, forming almost a caste as they socialized and married among themselves.  Heinrich Heine was no less matter-of-fact than Boerne when he underwent baptism, also secretly, in June 1825, a month before his final examination for his degree in law at the University of Goettingen.  In many Jewish families in the early nineteenth century, it was understood that sooner or later their sons would accept baptism.  Yet Heine agonized most publicly over the step, and his description of conversion as the equivalent of buying an entry ticket to European culture transformed it from a religious into a secular act.
As Heine discovered, however, although the conversion might have made a difference in a university appointment (which he never seriously sought), to the world at large he remained a Jew.  Six months after his baptism, he wrote to his friend the Berlin banker Moses Moser:  I am now hated by Christian and Jew alike.  I much regret that I have had myself baptized;  I don't perceive that things have gone better fror me.  On the congtrary, I have since had mothing but misfortune.  As with Boperne, his enemies continued to taunt him with his origins, and he could not divorced himself from his profound sense of connection with Judaism.  When his friend Eduard Gans converted several months after he did, he responded to the news with a violent poem, "To an apostate."  It was not published in his lifetime, but its passion suggests the turbulent emotion this even elicited in him: 
As for that holy youthful spirit:
How quickly you've been suppressed
And in cold blood
You have reached an understanding with the good lords
And you have crawled to the cross,
The cross that you despised
That only a few weeks ago
You had thought of treading into the dust.

His prose and poetry alike are sprinkled with Jewish allusions and Jewish characters...  Conversion, even for the illustrious and even for the true believers, did not bring rest but doubt.  Rahel Varnhagen wrestled with is meaning even on her deathbed.  And Boerne and Heine found in it neither relief nor honor.  Yet these were the great and visible figures in the world who could give expression to what the less articulate might feel.  Ordinary people who converted, married, had children, and lived in communities did not engage in public debate.  it took a journalist and a poet to declaim in public what others were experiencing in private, to shout out loud what the ordinary only whispered...
The group of converts who turned on their former brothers and sisters did less damage in the nineteenth century than earlier, but when they were powerfully placed they could sow needless discord and set back the cause of Jewish emancipation.  One such was Friedrich Julius Stahl, who converted to Lutheranism in 1819.  He not only embraced Christianity but allied himself with that mythical entity, the German folk, and denounced the Jews as morally inferior to the Germans.  Succeeding Gans as professor of law at the university in Berlin in 1840, he expounded his ideas in a book published in 1847 which argued against the possibility of the emancipation of the Jews in a Christian State.  Although Stahl refrained from the call for physical violence that marked the work of earlier apostates, his position in the university and later in politics gave him the ear of policy makers and lawgivers, to the detriment of the Jews. ( The Jews of Germany, Ruth Gay,  p. 141.)

This gives us some insight into the complexity of the situation in spiritual, emotional, economic, social and political terms. We also see how much damage a "convert/apostate" could afflict on the Jewish community.

This will do for today.