The theological responses of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to church-state relations in Germany, 1933-1945 / by Robert F. Koch.
Barth and Bonhoeffer addressed several basic issues, among them: principles of leadership, acceptable forms of government, Christian political responsibility, resistance, military service, and the "Jewish question." Their views can be appreciated only through examining several previously neglected documents. For Barth, those works include Theologische Existenz Heute, Nein!, Das Evangelium in der Gegenwart, Rechtfertigung und Recht, Die Kirche und die Politische Frage von Heute, and Christengemeinde und Burgergemeinde. Barth's early concerns were primarily ecclesiastical, resisting any attempt to impose National Socialist ideology on the church. His resistance to the Hitler regime became increasingly political, moving to the point where he depicted it as a demonic realm. No such progression is apparent in the works of Bonhoeffer including: Dein Reich Komme!, Der Fuhrer und der Einzelne in der Jungen Gereration, Die Kirche von der Jundenfrage, "Schmerze der Berufung," Zur Frage nach der Kirchengemeinschaft, Kirche und Volkerwelt, Krieg und Frieden, Nachfolge, The Church and the New Order in Europe, Ethik, and Widerstand und Ergebung. What one sees in Bonhoeffer's thought is a struggle between his own sense of call and his Lutheran theological heritage. While the possibility of resistance is raised in Die Kirche von der Jundenfrage, one finds quite traditional Lutheran views of church-state relations in Nachfolge and Ethik. These two aspects were never reconciled, resulting in the anguish one finds in the well-known Nach Zehn Jahren, and also in the little-known but tremendously important sermon "Schmerze der Berufung." The issues Barth and Bonhoeffer dealt with--a link between the religious and political right, growing secularization, the build-up of arms--are as relevant today as they were forty years ago. Their thought can show both positive and negative approaches to these problems.
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