Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

We reject the false doctrinethat the Church could assume a human sovereignty over the Word and Work of the Lord, and place these at the service of any arbitrarily chosen wishes, aims or plans.

The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the recognition of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of Confessional Churches. It invites all those who are able to accept their declaration to keep these theological principles in mind in their decisions in Church politics. It asks all whom it concerns to return to the unity of faith, love and hope.

Verbum Dei manet in aeternum.

Source: Arthur Frey, Cross and Swastika ( London, 1938), pp. 149-157. German text in Joachim Beckmann (ed.), Evangelische Kirche im Dritten Reich (Gütersloh, Germany, 1948), pp. 62-65.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

V. Barnett, For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest against Hitler ( New York, 1992), pp. 47-73.

J. Bentley, Martin Niemöller ( New York, 1984), pp. 42-130. References for Document 145.


149
Dahlem Declaration October 20, 1934

Church conflict was violent after the Barmen Synod as the government attempted to exact a loyalty oath to Hitler from all pastors and to incorporate, against aroused opposition, those Landeskirchen that had not yet been absorbed into the Reichskirche. In Bavaria and Württemberg where the attack went strongest, defense of the Lutheran leadership assumed the character of a widespread resistance movement. The Confessing Church now set up organs of church government. At the Dahlem ( Berlin) Synod it proclaimed itself the legitimate German Evangelical Church and issued this Dahlem Declaration asserting the church's right to determine its own constitution. Accompanying these resolutions was an appeal to the congregations: "Let those come openly to our side who are resolved to drive from the Church unrighteousness and violence, lying and heresy, who are minded to let the Word of God have its place as sole saving power, who are convinced that in matters of Church doctrine and organization the Church alone is called to decide -- Come to us! Unite with us in the struggle." Though harassed and persecuted, the Confessing Church, by organizing, effectively ended the threat of a

From Arthur Frey, Cross and Swastika ( London, 1938). Translated by J. Strathearn McNab. Copyright, 1938, by SCM Press, Limited. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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