Victoria: Martin Luther and the Jews

On the 500 Hundredth Anniversary of the Reformation The Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of Melbourne is cosponsoring an event with the Council of Christians and Jews on Sunday, 7th May 2017 at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Box Hill.


In this 500th Anniversary year of the start of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, the CCJ has chosen to hold a seminar on the reformer Martin Luther. Despite many admirable personal qualities, Luther’s anti-Jewish attitudes are infamous. This seminar will look at what those views were and what effect they might have had for the Jewish communities of Europe in his day and in centuries afterwards. It will also ask the question of what was the cause of these ideas? Was Luther just a mouthpiece for the prevailing anti-Semitism of his time, or was it something more?

The principle guest speaker is Trevor Schaefer, who is the Secretary of the Council of Christians and Jews in South Australia and works as a librarian at Australian Lutheran College in North Adelaide. He has a particular interest in the history of Luther’s anti-Jewish writings and will share with us the results of his studies. The other speaker is – me! I was a Lutheran pastor for nine years, but in all that time, I was hardly aware of what someone has called the “original sin of Lutheranism”. Now, after 15 years of interfaith work for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, I wonder whether there was something in the shape of Luther’s theology that contributed to his opposition to Judaism.

We are also very honoured that our hosts for this discussion will be St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. This is the home parish of the Vice Chairman of CCJ-Vic, Mr Thilo Troschke, and also of my own Lutheran wife and children. It is possibly the first time that a Lutheran parish has hosted a Council of Christians and Jews event. The Lutheran Church today has a long history of support for Jewish-Christian dialogue and the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Victoria and Tasmania is a President of the CCJ.

David Schütz is Executive Officer of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. He received his theological education at Luther Seminary in North Adelaide (now Australian Lutheran College) and served for nine years as a Lutheran pastor before entering the Catholic Church. He is a foundation member and past general secretary of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, and has taught for Catholic Adult Education Melbourne and Anima Education.

Trevor Schaefer, has been a librarian at the Löhe Memorial Library, Australian Lutheran College, North Adelaide, since 1997. He has also worked as a teacher at Aboriginal settlements in Central Australia and as a customs officer in Port Adelaide. Trevor published his first book A Light on the Hill: Brougham Place Uniting Church 1859-2009 in 2009 and his first novel, Fish out of Water, in 2015. He has been the secretary of the Council of Christians and Jews (SA) since 2010. Although not a recognised scholar on Luther, he did once appear on the Einstein Factor with Martin Luther as his special topic.

Event Details

Program: Martin Luther and the Jews
Date: Sunday, 7th May 2017 at 3.00 pm
Location: St Paul’s Lutheran Church 711 Station St, Box Hill, Victoria, 3128
Admission: $10.00 including kosher afternoon tea
RSVP: If possible please advise attendance by contacting the CCJ office 326 Church Street, Richmond 3121;
Bookings: Tel: 9429 5212 or Email:





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