Friday, July 31, 2009


It is a beautiful, gorgeous day, and what am I doing--reading stuff about the Barmen Declaration and the Bethel Confession written in opposition to Nazification of the church during the Thirties.

It is important to note, that Christians were speaking out against the oppression. It is also important to note that there were significant differences in their approach to their confession.

This thing, I will quote from what I printed out:

"It is no accident that Bonhoeffer and Sasse eventually split over the issue of the validity of the historic Lutheran confessions, esp. vis-a-vis the "miracle" of Barmen, which Bonhoeffer stylized into the decisive criterion for the church's being church while downplaying the historic differences between Lutherans and the Reformed (cf., on the other hand, the statements in the Bethel Confession that denied the bishops the power to downgrade the authority of the historic confessions). There are, as Sasse saw clearly, significant similarities between the theology of the Barthian "confessing church" and the "German Christians"; they have to do with a shared and deeply ingrained unionism that favors present-day "confessing" over historic "confessions".

One thing I will say: I grew up in Germany, in the state church with its beautiful buildings, wonderful organs, excellent hymns, superb choirs, plus in the pietistic fellowship with guitars, witnessing and praying, with a complete mish-mash of teaching, which did not totally throw me off, because we actually read the Bible quite a bit and that works, plus the hymns, they work, too, BUT I will take the historic confessions any day over the present-day confessing, if I have to chose. (But do we always have to chose?) It surprises me less, that many just know that they are not Roman Catholic, that they don't believe any "formalism" such as sacraments, or trust any theologians at all. (Theologian is like a dirty word to some.) This is all very limiting. It is not the Lutheran confessions that are limiting.

Still, I am intrigued about the new confessions in the back of the hymnal I bought. We should talk about them. We need to know our own stuff, well, though, too.


Steve Martin said...

"It surprises me less, that many just know that they are not Roman Catholic, that they don't believe any "formalism" such as sacraments, or trust any theologians at all."

Sounds like much of American Evangelicalism.

Thanks for sharing, Brigitte.

Bror Erickson said...

in choosing the confessions, you are confessing! This dichotomy is nothing more that Barthian deception. They would have us believe that they are the ones that are confessing, dynamic, and alive. While we who hold to the old confessions of the faith they do not like, are being closed, static and dead. So they call themselves the confessing church, but never say as to what they are confessing. They confess nothing but their own mindless meanderings. The Christian faith is not primarily about confessing, but what you confess, that is the question. It is the same with faith alone. It isn't so much believeing that saves you as what you believe in. Romans 10:8-10 (ESV)
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); [9] because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Brigitte said...

Thank you very much.

I've read the Barmen declaration three times now, and I find it unclear.