May 31 2009

75th Anniversary of the Barmen Declaration

Published by under Opinion

In May 29-31 1934, during the Nazi ascendency in Germany, a synod of Protestant clergy and laity met together and agreed what is now known as the Barmen Declaration. In what sounds to us rather traditional language, they stood firm against the Nazification of the church. Confessing churches were formed, breakaway minorities that stood out against the Nazi-dominated state churches (the German Protestant church is a federation of a number of provincial churches, and some but not all had a pro-Nazi hierarchy).

While most churches have the Apostles Creed and perhaps the Nicene Creed written into their constitutions, very few make mention of anything more recent than the Reformation. The Barmen Declaration is distinguished as a modern creed through having been adopted by a number of German churches. The firm and unambiguous stand against Nazism also helped to give the church credibility in the post-war period. Albert Einstein commented:

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

You can find the text of the declaration here

Comments Off on 75th Anniversary of the Barmen Declaration

Comments are closed at this time.