Confessing Church

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Confessing Church

Confessing Church, Ger. Bekennende Kirche, German Protestant movement. It was founded in 1933 by Martin Niemoeller as the Pastors' Emergency League and was systematically opposed to the Nazi-sponsored German Christian Church. The immediate occasion for the opposition was the attempt by the Nazis soon after their rise to power to purge the German Evangelical Church of converted Jews and to make the church subservient to the state. At the Synod of Barmen (May, 1934) the Confessing Church set up an administration and proclaimed itself the true Protestant Church in Germany. After the arrest of many of its ministers the church was forced underground. Eventually the more moderate Lutheran Council replaced it as the most effective opponent to the Nazi regime. After the war Niemoeller and his followers continued as a separate group within the German Evangelical Church. The group is governed by representatives from each territorial church (the Council of Brethren) and its doctrines are based on the Barmen declaration and the Reformation creeds.

See A. C. Cochrane, The Church's Confession under Hitler (1962).

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