Faith in the Face of Tyranny: An Examination of the Bethel Confession Proposed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hermann Sasse in August 1933
In 1933 a group of theological students in Berlin asked Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hermann Sasse to work together with other theologians to come up with a confession that could be used to challenge nazi ideology and its inroads into the church bodies of Germany through the so-called "German Christians" who wanted to reshape Christianity into a worship of German ethnicity.
The result was the August Bethel Confession named after the town in which Sasse and Bonhoeffer worked together. Unfortunately, church bureaucrats got a hold of it and watered it down, and then it was forgotten for the Barmen Declaration what was much more heavily influenced by Reformed theology and concerns and failed to even take up the question of what place Jews had in the church.
This was a huge disappointment to both Bonhoeffer and Sasse who are largely regarded as two of the greatest Lutheran theologians of that era.
In Faith in the Face of Tyranny, Torbjörn Johannson takes a look at the work that both these men brought to the forgotten Bethel Confession to show just what a confessional response to national socialism and racism looks like. Today there are often calls for new confessions and declarations addressing different political ideologies and issues and well as cultural movements. This book shows what such a confession should look like and why as well as what considerations should be taken into account when looking at such a project.
About the Authors
Torbjörn Johansson (Theol. Dr., Lund University) is Rector of the Lutheran School of Theology in Gothenburg, Sweden. He teaches systematic theology and is a member of the Curatorium of the Lutherakademie Ratzeburg-Sonderhausen.
Pastor, husband, and father, Bror Erickson resides in Fort Morgan, Colorado, with his wife Laura, and is a PhD student at the Institute of Lutheran Theology, as well as a 1517 Fellow. He enjoys preaching the gospel at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Fort Morgan, Colorado, as well as hunting upland game with his dog Grinner, when he isn't translating the works of Bo Giertz.