Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, May 18, 2020

Scientists Find The First Animal That Doesn't Need Oxygen to Survive

Scientists Find The First Animal That
Doesn't Need Oxygen to Survive

by Michelle Starr
May 10, 2020

Some truths about the Universe and our experience in it seem immutable. The sky is up. Gravity sucks. Nothing can travel faster than light. Multicellular life needs oxygen to live. Except we might need to rethink that last one.

Earlier this year, scientists discovered that a jellyfish-like parasite doesn't have a mitochondrial genome - the first multicellular organism known to have this absence. That means it doesn't breathe; in fact, it lives its life completely free of oxygen dependency.

This discovery isn't just changing our understanding of how life can work here on Earth - it could also have implications for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Life started to develop the ability to metabolise oxygen - that is, respirate - sometime over 1.45 billion years ago. A larger archaeon engulfed a smaller bacterium, and somehow the bacterium's new home was beneficial to both parties, and the two stayed together.

That symbiotic relationship resulted in the two organisms evolving together, and eventually those bacteria ensconced within became organelles called mitochondria. Every cell in your body except red blood cells has large numbers of mitochondria, and these are essential for the respiration process.

They break down oxygen to produce a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, which multicellular organisms use to power cellular processes.

We know there are adaptations that allow some organisms to thrive in low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions. Some single-celled organisms have evolved mitochondria-related organelles for anaerobic metabolism; but the possibility of exclusively anaerobic multicellular organisms has been the subject of some scientific debate.

That is, until a team of researchers led by Dayana Yahalomi of Tel Aviv University in Israel decided to take another look at a common salmon parasite called Henneguya salminicola.

(Stephen Douglas Atkinson)

It's a cnidarian, belonging to the same phylum as corals, jellyfish and anemones. Although the cysts it creates in the fish's flesh are unsightly, the parasites are not harmful, and will live with the salmon for its entire life cycle.

Tucked away inside its host, the tiny cnidarian can survive quite hypoxic conditions. But exactly how it does so is difficult to know without looking at the creature's DNA - so that's what the researchers did.

They used deep sequencing and fluorescence microscopy to conduct a close study of H. salminicola, and found that it has lost its mitochondrial genome. In addition, it's also lost the capacity for aerobic respiration, and almost all of the nuclear genes involved in transcribing and replicating mitochondria.

Like the single-celled organisms, it had evolved mitochondria-related organelles, but these are unusual too - they have folds in the inner membrane not usually seen.

The same sequencing and microscopic methods in a closely related cnidarian fish parasite, Myxobolus squamalis, was used as a control, and clearly showed a mitochondrial genome.

These results show that here, at last, is a multicellular organism that doesn't need oxygen to survive.

Exactly how it survives is still something of a mystery. It could be leeching adenosine triphosphate from its host, but that's yet to be determined.

But the loss is pretty consistent with an overall trend in these creatures - one of genetic simplification. Over many, many years, they have basically devolved from a free-living jellyfish ancestor into the much more simple parasite we see today.

(Stephen Douglas Atkinson)

They've lost most of the original jellyfish genome, but retaining - oddly - a complex structure resembling jellyfish stinging cells. They don't use these to sting, but to cling to their hosts: an evolutionary adaptation from the free-living jellyfish's needs to the parasite's. You can see them in the image above - they're the things that look like eyes.

The discovery could help fisheries adapt their strategies for dealing with the parasite; although it's harmless to humans, no one wants to buy salmon riddled with tiny weird jellyfish.

But it's also a heck of a discovery for helping us to understand how life works.

"Our discovery confirms that adaptation to an anaerobic environment is not unique to single-celled eukaryotes, but has also evolved in a multicellular, parasitic animal," the researchers wrote in their paper, published in February 2020.

"Hence, H. salminicola provides an opportunity for understanding the evolutionary transition from an aerobic to an exclusive anaerobic metabolism."

* The research has been published in PNAS.

**A version of this article was first published in February 2020.

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Methane-filled Atmosphere of Early Earth
Helped ‘Clear the Air’ for Oxygen

The Story of Oxygen in Early Earth

Oxygen was a toxic gas in primordial earth's early history until it was not. How and why did this happen? It begins with the story of methane gas. Further, it seems to explain quite sufficiently the explosion of life in the Cambrian Period which everyone seems to make a fuss over (Why All the Fuss over Earth's Remarkable Cambrian Explosion?). The article that follows explains this....

R.E. Slater
August 15, 2018

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Silence in the Face of Evil is Evil Itself

60 Best Rabbit Trails images | Crimean war, Bonhoeffer quotes ...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Archives - Centre for Public Christianity
The failure of the Church to oppose Nazism. Lutheran Bishop Ludwig Muller,
leader of the Reich Church, greets Hitler

Recommended Reading: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Discipleship ...

Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Theologian

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Critical Prophet of the Ecumenical Movement ...

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The Rise of Bonhoeffer: Ethics & Empire
in a Post-Truth Era

We live in a time of crisis upon crisis and yet the church is silent. The need, or better put the demand, for a new trajectory of faith is clear. Where do we begin? Is there a starting point for considering faith beyond Christendom?

In this class we will carry these questions to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a genius of the 20th century church cut short because of his resistance to Nazi Germany and its ecclesial partners. Too often Bonhoeffer is claimed as an ally in this task without sitting long enough with his actual texts and witness. Here we will work through sections from his major texts and end up reading them in light of current situation, from COVID-19, to Trump, the ecological crisis, and beyond.

an Online Pop-Up Learning Community

Lectures - Reading - QnA - Forum

June 2020 - 5 Weeks

Update. May 15, 2020

Tripp Fuller - Over 700 have joined the Bonhoeffer reading group. It’s gonna be a blast & who doesn’t want to know what Bonhoeffer meant by “religionless Christianity.” Join up today!

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Man After God - Peter Bending - Medium
Dietrich & Sabine Bonhoeffer, 1939 | Sabine Leibholz (1906–1999), twin sister of Dietrich, married legal scholar Gerhard Leibholz (1901–1982), judge at the Federal Constitutional Court.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by John MacQuarrie
June 21, 1970

“Through the half‐open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds.” So wrote the camp doctor who witnessed the death at the hands of the Nazis of 39‐year‐old German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, on April 9, 1945.

Many theologians have had large books written about their thought and speculations. Here, however, on the 25th anniversary of its subject's death, we have a massive volume devoted to a theologian's life. The author, Eberhard Bethge, was Bonhoeffer's friend and student; he married Bonhoeffer's niece and edited the theologian's famous volume, “Letters and Papers From Prison.” For years Bethge has devoted himself to the preparation of this essential, well documented biography. If the life of the average theologian is uneventful, this was far from the case with Bonhoeffer, and his enduring significance is better explored in a biography than in an analysis of his theology.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer obsessed with this man and his life ...

When the young Bonhoeffer announced his intention of studying theology, his father, who was professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin and himself an agnostic, was disappointed. Later he wrote to Dietrich:

“At the time when you decided to devote yourself to theology I sometimes thought to myself that a quiet, uneventful minister's life would really almost be a pity for you. So far as uneventfulness is concerned, I was greatly mistaken. That such a crisis should still be possible in the ecclesiastical field seemed to me with my scientific background out of the question.”

These words come from a letter written as early as 1934, and neither father nor son knew then that more than a decade of still more eventful and severe crises lay ahead.

It was Bonhoeffer's fate that his life intermeshed with the century's most fascinating episode — the rise and fall of Nazism. To be sure, it is the fascination of horror. It provokes to this day the great question and enigma of our time - a question not without its theological dimension. How was it possible for this monstrosity to emerge at the center of European civilization? We see in this biography the young Bonhoeffer's promising career diverted by the rise of National Socialism. He is increasingly engulfed by it, and eventually destroyed.

Yet it would be a superficial understanding of Bonhoeffer that considered him simply as a man caught in the events of his time, like a fly in a spider's web. He himself understood his career as the continually deepening response to a vocation that finally demanded everything he had. The best‐known of his books published in his lifetime was “The Cost of Discipleship,” and perhaps the word “discipleship” is the key to his theology.

Discipleship Vol. 4 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2003, Paperback) for ...

What does it mean to be a disciple? Whereas his Lutheran training had stressed “grace alone” as that which makes the disciple, Bonhoeffer shifted the emphasis to obedience. He made a famous distinction between “cheap grace” vs. “costly grace.” Cheap grace is nominal Christianity, grace “sold on the market,” “thrown away at cut prices,” to quote Bonhoeffer's biting words. Costly grace is obedient discipleship, and he understood this particularly as obedience to the Sermon on the Mount.

In the concrete, as Bethge makes clear, this theological problem of obedient discipleship became for Bonhoeffer the agonizing question of the Christian's obligation to participate in political realities. He might have remained an academic theologian, as did many others; and then he might have survived, as they did. It was not simply an external fate that overtook Bonhoeffer. He was follow ing an ideal of discipleship.

If there is a constant thread that holds his life story together, it is the thread that leads from his early political disinterestedness to his final implication in a political conspiracy. Rightly or wrongly, this was how his understanding of discipleship unfolded. And clearly his dilemma has a continuing relevance beyond the circumstances of Nazi Germany.

Bonhoeffer was a most unlikely candidate for the role he came to fulfill. In appearance, he was round faced, bespectacled, mild. Yet his physique was powerful, and he must have had a tremendous supply of energy to maintain the activities of his busy life.

Young Dietrich Bonhoeffer with siblings
Young Dietrich Bonhoeffer with siblings

Paula Bonhoeffer and Her Kids
Bonhoeffer saw theology as branch of knowledge. His path to theology began – despite the Christian foundation of his parent’s home – in a secular atmosphere. Only later did the church enter his field of vision. Unlike theologians who came from families that were active in the church & theology. | Wikipedia - The Bonhoeffer Family

Dietrich and his twin sister were the sixth and seventh of eight children. If their upbringing in the last years of imperial Germany was strict, it was also secure. Their parents never had less than five domestics to help run the household. They always kept a summer place, where the children spent many happy weeks. Musical evenings were another feature of family life. One of the older brothers was killed in World War I; but on the whole, life was secure, and the young Bonhoeffer sometimes felt guilty about it. “I should like to lead an unsheltered life for once,” he confided to his youngest sister. “We understand the others.”

No doubt when Bonhoeffer first turned to theology he expected that life would continue to be secure, like that of some of his relatives who were pastors. His theological studies were chiefly at Berlin, where the faculty was one of the finest in the world and prided itself on “scientific” theology. 

But soon he felt himself drawn to a man who in those days was revolutionizing theology and had emerged as a sharp critic of the pundits of Berlin—Karl Barth. Later, Barth was to take a leading part in the struggle of the church against Hitler. He became one of the great influences in Bonhoeffer's life and loyal friend, even if the two men did not always agree.

Bonhoeffer was a student at Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1930–31. Here he made lasting friendships, but the American experience brought a new challenge to Bonhoeffer's conception of theology. Although he tended to despise what he found at Union because the intellectual dimension of theology seemed sacrificed in the interests of social activism (it was the time of the Depression), his year there helped him to discover that German academic theology was equally one‐sided, though in a different way.

On his return to Germany he soon learned that theology cannot be pursued in quiet isolation. Christianity in Germany was facing its greatest challenge, and this became acute after Hitler came to power in 1933. Many churchmen conformed to the new regime, but Bonhoeffer and Barth were among those from several religious traditions who resisted.

The young man who had criticized the activism of American Christianity now became deeply involved in the ecclesiastical and civil politics of Germany. A change was taking place in his understanding of both discipleship and theology. He even began to question the omnicompetence of German theology. “It seems inconceivable,” he wrote, “that in the whole of the world just Germany, and in Germany just a few men, have understood what the Gospel is.”

These were incredibly busy years in Bonhoeffer's life. He taught theology, first in the university, then in an unofficial seminary and finally, when that was closed by the Gestapo, in a clandestine “underground” seminary. He was ever active in the struggle within the church and between the church and the Nazis. He became a well‐known figure in the ecumenical movement and international conferences that led to the formation of the World Council of Churches.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on a weekend getaway with confirmands of Zion's Church congregation
in 1932. | Photo courtesy of German Federal Archives/Creative Commons

Two important friendships date from these years. One was with Bethge, who joined Bonhoeffer's seminary in 1935 and became a faithful companion. Though himself arrested, he was able to preserve for publication some of Bonhoeffer's manuscripts, including the famous letters from prison. The other friendship was with Bishop G.K.A. Bell of Chichester, an English leader of the ecumenical movement. Bell was greatly impressed by Bonhoeffer, and both then and later used his influence to help the resistance to Hitler.

It was in 1939 that Bonhoeffer made the most crucial decision of his life. It was apparent that war was inevitable. Some of his friends tried to persuade him to seek security in the United States, and he was offered various positions. He did in fact come to New York at the beginning of June and taught in the summer session at Union Seminary. But by the end of July he was back in Germany.

Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (third from right) participating in a Nazi parade in Munich,
c. 1930s. | Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

He wrote to Reinhold Niebuhr: “I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany or I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”

Till now, his resistance to the regime had been nonviolent - he was, incidentally, a great admirer of Gandhi. But he was aware that there were others, some of them in high positions in the armed forces, who believed differently. His own brother‐in‐law, civil servant Hans von Dohnanyi, was one of this revolutionary group. These men believed that only the assassination of Hitler and the violent seizure of power could save Germany from destruction. As early as 1940, Bonhoeffer came to share the view that Hitler must be eliminated.

From now on Bonhoeffer was living what Bethge calls a “double life” - churchman and conspiratorial agent. Under the auspices of disaffected elements in the military, security service, he made several journeys abroad to establish contacts on behalf of the conspirators. In 1942 he was in Stockholm conferring with his old friend Bishop Bell, who tried unsuccessfully to convince the British Government to take the conspirators seriously as a means of ending the war.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer [Credit: The Broken ...
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer

But things went badly with the conspiracy. Time and again, the plans miscarried. In 1943, Bonhoeffer, Dohnanyi, and some others were arrested. Shortly before, Bonhoeffer had become engaged to the 18‐year‐old Maria von Wedemeyer - a surprising step in view of the almost monastic existence that he established in his seminary.

Greater surprises were to come. In the two years that he spent in jail, he wrote down in letters and fragmentary essays his thoughts on Christianity as these had developed. This man of faith was now advocating a “worldly” theology. To be sure, this has often been misunderstood.

He wrote: “I don't mean the shallow and banal this‐worldliness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this‐worldliness characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection.” For him, “worldly” Christianity meant the fullest participation in the world and for the world, but in‐the-strength of an inner discipline of prayer. Surely in his death he carried that ideal to its fulfillment.

There has been a tendency to overrate Bonhoeffer as a theologian. His work is too fragmentary for him to stand in the first rank in that respect. But it would be impossible to overrate his importance as a disciple—and not least because he was willing to accept the moral ambiguity of the last phase of his activity. Mr. Bethge has created a memorable portrait of a great Christian and moral leader of this century.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

He was a German, a Luther pastor and theologian who lost his life for opposing Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer produced three books of lasting significance -- The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, and Letters and Papers From Prison and gave a powerful witness of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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Elena Postigo on | Dietrich bonhoeffer quotes, Bonhoeffer quotes ...

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer (far left), with his family
The Bonhoeffer family, March 1943, five days before Dietrich’s arrest. Dietrich is on far left. Rüdiger Schleicher, Klaus Bonhoeffer, and Friedrich Perels, also in the picture, were executed in 1945 as well. | Christian Kaiser Verlag

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Opposition

by Victoria Barnett

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau on February 4, 1906, the sixth child of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. His father was a prominent professor of psychiatry and neurology; his mother was one of the few women of her generation to obtain a university degree.

Paula Bonhoeffer chose to educate her children in their early years at home. She had observed that “Germans have their backbones broken twice in life: first in the schools, secondly in the military.” 1 Her emphasis on a strong moral and intellectual character was shared throughout the Bonhoeffer family. This became evident in the tragic aftermath of the failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, when four members of the immediate family were executed: two sons (Dietrich and Klaus) and two sons-in-law (Hans von Dohnanyi and Rüdiger Schleicher).

From the beginning, Bonhoeffer’s interests took him beyond the traditional realm of German academia, and his intellect and theological achievements won him early renown. He completed his studies in Tübingen and Berlin with a 1927 dissertation, Sanctorum Communio, under Reinhold Seeberg. In 1928, he served as vicar in the German parish in Barcelona; in 1930, he completed his theological exams and studied at Union Seminary in New York. He also became active in the fledgling ecumenical movement, making international contacts that would prove crucial to his work in the resistance. In 1931, Bonhoeffer began teaching on the theological faculty in Berlin.

With Hitler’s ascent to power at the end of January 1933, Bonhoeffer’s church entered the most difficult phase in its history. Since its inception, the German Evangelical Church (the main Protestant church in Germany) had been shaped by nationalism and obedience to state authority. Influenced by these traditions, and relieved that a strong new leader had emerged from the chaos of the Weimar years, many Protestants welcomed the rise of Nazism.

In particular, a group called the Deutsche Christen (“German Christians”) became the voice of Nazi ideology within the Evangelical Church, even advocating the removal of the Old Testament from the Bible. In the summer of 1933, citing the state Aryan laws that barred all “non-Aryans” from the civil service, the Deutsche Christen proposed a church “Aryan paragraph” to prevent “non-Aryans” from becoming ministers or religious teachers.

The ensuing controversy almost split the German Evangelical Church. Despite widespread antisemitism and enthusiasm for Nazism, most church leaders steadfastly supported the “Judenmission”—the evangelization, conversion and baptism of Jews. But the Deutsche Christen were already claiming that Jews, as a “separate race,” could not become members of an “Aryan” German church even through baptism—a clear repudiation of the validity of Gospel teachings.

Protestant opposition to the Aryan paragraph, then, was not based upon disagreement with Nazi racial policies, but upon an important element of Christian doctrine. Nonetheless, the issue led church leaders into a public debate about one of the most crucial aspects of Nazi ideology. In this initial battle to retain church independence, most church leaders avoided the deeper issue: that the civil rights of all German Jews had been attacked. Indeed, many who opposed the church Aryan paragraph otherwise supported the regime’s restrictions on German Jews.

Bonhoeffer bitterly opposed the Aryan paragraph, arguing that its ratification surrendered Christian precepts to political ideology. If “non-Aryans” were banned from the ministry, he argued, then their colleagues should resign in solidarity, even if this meant the establishment of a new church — a “confessing” church that would remain free of Nazi influence. This was a minority view; most German bishops wanted to avoid antagonizing the Nazi regime and to keep their regional churches together.

The strongest opponents of Nazi interference in the churches, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, eventually did form the “Confessing Church.” But, while some Confessing Christians moved toward open resistance against the regime, more moderate Protestants (inside and outside the Confessing Church) made what they saw as necessary compromises. As the Nazi dictatorship tightened its hold, the Confessing Church itself became paralyzed.

1 Siegele-Wenschkewitz, Leonore, “Die Ehre der Frau, dem Manne zu dienen: Zum Frauenbild Dietrich Bonhoeffers” in Jost and Kuberg, eds., Wie Theologen Frauen sehen—von der Macht der Bilder. (Freiburg: Herder Verlag, 1993), 105.