No, this was not written by a bunch of guys in a bar... LOL!
This confession comes from 1934 Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. It has been a part of our denomination since its founding because it speaks the truth about the gospel and role of the church in society.
The crisis in Germany was the Nazi Party asserting control over church worship services, telling them what they could and could not say. Obviously if churches refused they were “punished.” Nazi’s then set up their own “Churches” to promote their political agenda.
Some pastors, congregations and religious leaders came together to collectively stand against the tyranny of the Nazi party because its ideology and theology was abhorrent and antithetical to the true message of the Gospel. Several paid with their lives and many others were chased underground or out of the country.
Given the recent surge in support for neo-Nazis today, and many blurred lines regarding the authority of politics and faith, it’s important to remember that for the last 80 years our church has denounced such ideas as hate and coercion. For a few Sundays in May, we will use a portion of this Declaration (Confession) of Barmen in our worship service.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a pastor, theologian, and scholar who had escaped Nazi Germany but returned to help the churches draft this declaration. His involvement in standing up for our freedom in Christ in the face of tyrannical leader got him killed by the Nazis while imprisoned in 1945.