Adult Education Presents: Theologians in Nazi Germany: Stories of Resistance
January 27 @ 9:45 am - February 24 @ 10:45 am EST
By Susan Powell
In Germany, at the time of the Nazis, there were approximately 20 million Catholics and 40 million Protestants. However, few Christians spoke out against fascism. But some did, German citizens and theologians alike. There were those who paid with their lives, and others escaped. Brick’s Adult Education program will begin a four-part series on great theologians of the 20th century and how three of these theologians responded to the national issues in Germany.
Karl Barth: The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology
Sunday January 27, Dr. Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University will begin with a presentation on Karl Barth. Barth was a member of a small group of theologians and churchmen who formed the Confessing Church, created in response to the national synod of the German Protestant churches endorsed by the Nazi party in 1933 (unified into the German Evangelical Church, it was known as the “Reich Church”). In a historic battle of church vs. the state, Barth and others wrote the famous Barmen Declaration in 1934, a statement in opposition to the German Christian’s Nazification of the German Evangelical Church. Dr. Gary Dorrien will explore why Karl Barth is considered the most influential theologian of the 20th century, so influential, in fact, that he made the cover of TIME Magazine on April 20, 1962. Dr. Dorrien teaches social ethics, theology, and philosophy of religion at Union Theological Seminary. He has authored 19 books and 300 articles that range across many fields, including philosophy, social ethics and theology.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Nationalism and Resistance Then and Now
Sunday February 3, Rev. Dr. Nancy Duff will lecture on the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In August of 1933 Bonhoeffer wrote to his Grandmother: “The issue really is Germanism or Christianity.” German Christians placed Nazi flags alongside the communion table and believed God’s will worked through the National Socialist Party. For many, loyalty to the Arian race and the German nation (“blood and soil”) had usurped loyalty to God. In this session, Dr. Duff will discuss Bonhoeffer’s complicated resistance to Nazi ideology and cautiously consider his work in light of the rise of nationalism in America. today. Rev. Dr. Duff has taught Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary since 1990. She received her Ph.D. in theology from Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Paul Tillich: Challenging Fascism in His Time and What it Might Mean for Christians Today
Sunday February 10, Dr. Mark Taylor will discuss the story behind how Paul Tillich was forced underground by Hitler when the Nazis confiscated and burned his new published book, “The Socialist Decision”. Tillich, along with many Jewish intellectuals, was the first Christian academic to be purged from positions in German higher education. Tillich then taught for the rest of his years in the U.S. at Union Theological Seminary, Harvard University and the University of Chicago. Among and against many of his Lutheran colleagues amidst the 1930s rise of fascism in Germany, Tillich wrote that Protestantism must “preserve its prophetic Christian character by opposing the paganism of the swastika with the Christianity of the cross.” Dr. Taylor will explore what Tillich meant by that statement as a challenge to fascism in his own time, noting also what it might mean for Christians today as they face what many scholars see as an extreme nationalistic threat in our own political moment. Mark Lewis Taylor is the Maxwell M Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. His courses are mainly in the areas of political and liberation theology.
Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder: Uneasy in Babylon: Christian Identity in Late 20th Century “Christian America”
Sunday February 24 we will change gears and learn about two American theologians of the late 20th century. While not in the totalitarian environment of the Nazi regime, some American theologians expressed concerns over their perception of American Christianity aligning with American political and cultural identity.
Rev. Dr. B.J. Hutto will address two American theologians, John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas, who were critical of aligning American Christianity with American political and cultural identity in the latter half of the 20th century. While America does not have a state-church relationship in the same way that Germany did (and does), after winning the second world war and facing down the Soviet Union these two theologians, and many others, became increasingly concerned that the Church in America, or at least broad swathes of it, was becoming increasingly co-opted by the ‘good news’ (literally, the gospel) that its country was offering. This, they argued, has compromised American Christianity’s evangelical message to its neighbors, its prophetic message to its government and society, and its understanding of what it means to make disciples of its own members. Rev. Dr. Hutto graduated from Wofford College and a completed both an MDiv and ThM from Duke University Divinity School. He recently completed his PhD in Theological Ethics from Kings College, Aberdeen, Scotland. He is an Associate Minister at Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Manhattan.