The ‘Barmen Declaration’ was promulgated on the 31st of May, 1934. It was the Church’s response to the aggressive secularism of the German Christians and Nazis. You can read an English translation here.
Though signed by many, it was Karl Barth who wrote the lion’s share of the text, while the Lutherans were taking their afternoon nap.
On the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, TVZ published a brilliant little (virtually unknown, it seems) volume titled Texte zur Barmer Theologischen Erklärung (second edition, 2004) which contains various essays by Barth which he published over the course of his life on the Declaration. It’s fantastic.
These lines in particular resonate today-
We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.
We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.
Americans need to take those theological truths seriously. The State cannot be the Church, and the Church cannot be the State. As I wrote last year on the Anniversary of the Declaration, more than ever before, the Christian Church needs to affirm the truths expressed in this brilliant document.
Have a Happy Barmen Declaration Day!