The anthropology of freedom : a study in Friedrich Gogarten and Karl Barth / by Dietlind Gyburg Beschnidt.
The dissertation analyzes the political and theological implications of freedom of the individual within the context of the communities of church and state. Two principal theologians, Friedrich Gogarten (1887-1967) and Karl Barth (1886-1968), carry on the debate about freedom as to its political and theological significance. The pivotal years for the dissertation are 1933 and 1934 in Germany. Predominantly, primary German sources of Gogarten and Barth, often not available in English translation, are used to examine their theologies within the National Socialist Germany. First, the dissertation analyzes the anthropology of freedom in National Socialist theology. The establishment of freedom was a goal of the National Socialist political religion. Freedom also played a role in the main trends of German theology in the 1920s: Religious Socialism, Luther Renaissance, and dialectical theology. Second, Gogarten's anthropology, interested in the relationship between God and the individual, led to a political ethic based on the idea of total dependence on an authority. As a result, he subscribed to the ideas of the Deutsche Christen, a church party convinced of National Socialist ideas. Third, Barth suggested that the freedom of man was based on a relationship to a good God who realized his good will in the person of Jesus Christ. He rejected the Nazi government in Germany. Barth's theology found expression in the declaration of the Barmen Synod in 1934 which was the theological basis of the political resistance of the Confessing Church. Both theologians defined freedom mainly as obedience. While Gogarten developed his anthropology of freedom along the lines of Volk (people), Barth used the concept of church. This meant that they could not object to the discrimination against Jews and other minorities because they did not belong to the German people or the German Protestant Church. Also, while Barth objected to National Socialist totalitarian government because he was a Social Democrat, he was blind to the abuse of the left-wing totalitarian regime in East Germany later. Neither Barth nor Gogarten found a basic fault with totalitarian regimes. Both theologians' interest lay in advancing their theologies, not in the concrete freedom of individuals.
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