Confessions of the church : lessons of the Third Reich for the Bruderrat of the protestant church in Germany / Brian Glen Huck.
The Protestant Church in Germany had been a conservative influence on politics from the Reformation through the Weimar Republic. Leading theologians joined together in the Confessing Church in 1933–34 to oppose National Socialist influence within the Church during the Third Reich. After the end of the Second World War, some of them continued to meet in a body known as the “Bruderrat.” Here, they reflected on German guilt and repentance, on the nature of church order, and the relations of the Church to socialism. The statements they issued on these topics did not always meet with widespread approval at the time, but they did mark a decisive turning point for the political stance of the Protestant Church. Through its willingness to criticize the State, the Church came to be home to a plurality of political viewpoints. In particular, some theologians recognized the previously reflexive anti-socialist stance of the Church as bearing responsibility for the susceptibility of Protestants to National Socialism. In previous historiography, Lutheran theology is often held to be responsible for Protestant subservience to the State. By examining the minutes and correspondence of the Bruderrat as well as of contemporary Lutheran organizations, this dissertation documents not only the beginnings of politically critical Protestant theology, but also shows that the Lutheran opposition to this political criticism had more to do with the organizational forms of Lutheran regional churches than with Lutheran theology itself. It also provides a more differentiated depiction of the Bruderrat itself by documenting the viewpoints of members of its more conservative minority, and discussing the differences that arose between its members on each side of the Iron Curtain.
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