Confessing Church

(redirected from Bekennende Kirche)

Confessing Church,

Ger. Bekennende Kirche, German Protestant movement. It was founded in 1933 by Martin NiemoellerNiemoeller or Niemöller, Martin
, 1892–1984, German Protestant churchman. He studied theology after distinguishing himself as a submarine commander in World War I.
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 as the Pastors' Emergency League and was systematically opposed to the Nazi-sponsored German Christian Church. The immediate occasion for the opposition was the attempt by the Nazis soon after their rise to power to purge the German Evangelical Church of converted Jews and to make the church subservient to the state. At the Synod of Barmen (May, 1934) the Confessing Church set up an administration and proclaimed itself the true Protestant Church in Germany. After the arrest of many of its ministers the church was forced underground. Eventually the more moderate Lutheran Council replaced it as the most effective opponent to the Nazi regime. After the war Niemoeller and his followers continued as a separate group within the German Evangelical Church. The group is governed by representatives from each territorial church (the Council of Brethren) and its doctrines are based on the Barmen declaration and the Reformation creeds.


See A. C. Cochrane, The Church's Confession under Hitler (1962).

References in periodicals archive ?
Concerned that the Bekennende Kirche did not understand the November persecution as "the sign that it obviously has been," Karl Barth asked: "How is it possible that our Christian ears do not ring, considering the significance of this misery and wickedness?
It is easy, from the safe vantage point of passing decades and in an atmosphere of freedom, to wage criticism against the Bekennende Kirche -- to see the Barmen Declaration of 1934 as being almost exclusively concerned about the church's own safety and its purity of proclamation.
A church that says "No" in a discerning fashion is by that very fact developing a faith-experience (and hence, an identity-experience) substantially deeper and more authentic than the faith-experience it enjoyed before the test, as (for example) those of us who recall the aftermath of the bekennende Kirche of the thirties and forties will remember.
Duchrow, Weltwirtschaft heute--Ein Feld fur Bekennende Kirche, Munich, Chr.