25 October 1933 Karl Barth challenges the German church “What does the church have to say about what is happening in the concentration camps? Or about the treatment of the Jews?” #otdimjh

Karl Barth, the greatest theologian since Thomas Aquinas, and the formative voice for Christian understanding of Jews and Judaism today, refused to take the oath of allegiance to Hitler, was forced to leave his teaching post in Germany, and flee to Swtizerland.

There he actively campaigned for the resistance, helped many Jewish refugees (including Jewish believers in Yeshua), and petitioned governments to provide visas and safety to Jewish people trying to escape the Nazis. Along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his former student, he and a very few others were vocal critics of the German national Church. Bonhoeffer would eventually be executed for his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Barth would live to publish his massive multi-volume theological work, Church Dogmatics – not an easy read, but vital for an understanding of the purposes of God with his people Israel.

Barth asks “”What does the church have to say about what is happening in the concentration camps? Or about the treatment of the Jews?“ and responds by emphasizing the Jewishness of Jesus as an essential article of faith, and that both Jews and “us Gentiles” are children of the living God (Busch, 3). Busch writes:

“For in October 1933 in Berlin, on his first encounter with the newly organized church opposition in the ‘Emergency Pastoral Alliance’ [Pfarrernotbund], Barth articulated precisely the crux of his thesis: “What does the church have to say about what is happening in the concentration camps? Or about the treatment of the Jews?” The church must not remain silent on these questions. For “the one whose duty it is to proclaim the Word of God must address such events with what the Word of God declares.”18 That exposes, in one sentence, the practical meaning of his dispute with the two-sector [Luther’s Two-Kingdom] doctrine.”

A few months later, he would write: “”The solution to the Jewish question which is currently being sought in Germany is an impossibility — humanly, politically and with regard to Christian faith … The Evangelical Church must make itself heard with a resounding ‘no’” and “enter the fray in earnest support of the members of the synagogue.”

Sadly, Barth’s voice was silenced in Germany, and few had the courage to stand with him. Barth authored the Barmen Declaration which called for all secular powers to come under the authority of Gospel, and Hitler’s totalitarian regime would not tolerate such a challenge.

Barth’s legacy and reception is now vital for the healthy theological development of Messianic Judaism and its theology. The Church and Israel: In Search of a New Model in Post-Holocaust Theology, a recent book by Tatai Istvan, a Hungarian pastor and scholar, outlines his contribution. Read this and you will see how despite the Holocaust, and the tradition of Supersessionism in Christian theology, Messianic Jews not only have a voice but a vital theological significance and role to play in the healing of the schism in the People of God that produced two different and sadly mis-communicating communities which we call the Church and Israel today.

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven – may you name be made holy, and your will be done here on earth as it is in the heavens. May the witness of Karl Barth challenge the Church, Israel and the Messianic movement to speak your truth fearlessly, be willing to suffer the consequences, and point to the purposes that you have for all nations, and the priority of knowing the Messiah of Israel as the savior of all humanity and the restorer of all creation. May we learn the lessons of history, and not make the same tragic mistakes again. IN the name of our Messiah Yeshua, Amen.

Sources: Eberhard Busch: “The Covenant of Grace Fulfilled in Christ as the Foundation of the Indissoluble Solidarity of the Church with Israel: Barth’s Position on the Jews During the Hitler Era”

“For in October 1933 in Berlin, on his first encounter with the newly organized church opposition in the ‘Emergency Pastoral Alliance’ [Pfarrernotbund], Barth articulated precisely the crux of his thesis: “What does the church have to say about what is happening in the concentration camps? Or about the treatment of the Jews?” The church must not remain silent on these questions. For “the one whose duty it is to proclaim the Word of God must address such events with what the Word of God declares.”18 That exposes, in one sentence, the practical meaning of his dispute with the two-sector [Luther’s Two-Kingdom] doctrine.”

John Webster, Karl Barth (2nd Edition)  (Outstanding Christian Thinkers) (UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2004)

http://colloquiumjournal.org/back-issues/Coll37.1/Owen3.pdf

For the Sake of the World: Karl Barth and the Future of Ecclesial Theology

 By George Hunsinger

 

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About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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One Response to 25 October 1933 Karl Barth challenges the German church “What does the church have to say about what is happening in the concentration camps? Or about the treatment of the Jews?” #otdimjh

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