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Remembering the Barmen Declaration

On May 31, 1934 the leaders of the German Confessing Church movement issued a statement denouncing the theology and practice of the German Christians and articulating a set of theological convictions that they felt needed to be the driving factors in determining the relationship between Christian churches and the German state. Although the declaration itself, largely written by Karl Barth, is too long to post in its entirety (you can read it here), I thought I would highlight the specific doctrines they were rejecting. Several of them bear an unfortunate resemblance to our modern context:

  • 8.12 We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.
  • 8.15 We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords–areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.
  • 8.18 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions.
  • 8.21 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, apart from this ministry, could and were permitted to give itself, or allow to be given to it, special leaders vested with ruling powers.
  • 8.24 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.
  • 8.27 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans.