Some remember Martin Luther as an inspiring resistance theologian. Others see him in a negative light due to his indefensible stance against the peasants in their revolt in the 1520s, which he entitled, “Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants,” and particularly due to the anti-Semitic rantings he published in his declining years. While not seeking to apologize for these unconscionable writings, I am nevertheless interested in discussing some of his insights that may resonate for progressive people of faith.

When I first read Luther’s anti-Semitic diatribes in my younger years, I initially wished that he had died before he wrote this stuff. A number of years ago, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rightly asked Jews for forgiveness for Luther’s racist writings.

Sometimes I wonder whether those uncharacteristic diatribes may have been related to the kidney stones that Luther suffered throughout all of his adult life. At one...

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