Confessing Church

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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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
It was his hope that the CI would become the South African equivalent of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, but this was not feasible.
And in the twentieth century, Protestantism animated a series of radical, antifascist, antiracist, and anti-imperial movements: from the May First movement in post-World War I Korea, through the 1934 Barmen Declaration of the Confessing Church during the Third Reich, to the Reverend Dr.
However, in the section on Neo-orthodoxy Early identifies Barth's turn from liberal theology, along with his involvement in the Confessing Church and his role in the drafting of the Barmen Declaration, but he neglects to note that Barth turned from liberal theology in large part because of his disenchantment with the professors he had studied under in Berlin, such as Adolph von Harnack, and their wholehearted support of the German war cause during World War I.
When Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and leader of the Confessing Church in Germany during the Nazi period, was led away to be executed he is reported to have said, "This is the end.
In 1935, as the Nazis tightened their grip on Germany, Martin Niemoller asked Bonhoefferto take a small group of theological students and form an underground seminary for the Confessing Church. By its very nature, the enterprise was illegal, as nothing but the state-controlled Reich Church was permitted to train ordinands.
Of course during these years he fulfilled several distinct roles: academic theologian and teacher, leading protagonist for the Confessing Church, pastor, seminary director, and most dramatically and controversially, a willing participant in the German resistance and the conspiracy to overthrow Hitler.
The 1934 Barmen Declaration had ecumenical implications: It was not only a statement of faith but also an invitation to be identified with the Confessing Church. The last section, "The Dynamic Continued," looks to the future, one not dominated by ecclesial structures but with less-clericalized communities such as Taize, the Bruderhof, Focolare, Iona, and Corrymeela.
Stroud's compendium includes sermons from famous Confessing Church leaders, such as Bonhoeffer and Barth, as well as the works of otherwise ordinary pastors who ministered in an extraordinary time.
The poetic form of Niemoller's words may be more elegant than those words that he spoke to the so-called Confessing Church in Frankfurt in January 1946.
His most basic argument is that the churches--Protestant and Catholic--even the much-celebrated Confessing Church, were complicit in the rise of the Nazis to power in the rapid erosion of democratic norms and in the unrelenting unhindered progress of German policy toward the Jews that resulted in the death camps.
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Critics in the Nazi Party were scornful, arguing that Christianity was so intrinsically Jewish that it should be discarded altogether, while Confessing Church opponents argued that the Institute's commitment to "German Christianity" was heterodox.