Faith in the Face of Tyranny: An Examination of the Proposed Bethel Confession (Paperback)

Faith in the Face of Tyranny: An Examination of the Proposed Bethel Confession By Torbjörn Johannson, Bror Erickson (Translated by) Cover Image
By Torbjörn Johannson, Bror Erickson (Translated by)
NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days


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 Author

Bror Erickson currently serves as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Farmington New Mexico where he lives with his wife, Laura. He graduated from Concordia University, Irvine, in 2000 where he studied apologetics under Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. Subsequently, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne Indiana, and graduated in 2004. He has translated many works by Bo Giertz, but he also enjoys hunting upland game and ducks with his dog, Grinner.

Praise For…

Lesser known than the Barmen Declaration, the Bethel Confession, authored by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hermann Sasse, witnesses to Christian resistance against Nazi anti-Semitism and its infiltration in the church.  Indeed, more than Barmen, the Bethel Confession powerfully called out Protestant compromise with Nazism because of its forthright loyalty to the Lutheran Confessions.   Johansson provides a superb introduction to the Bethel Confession and commends it as a model for countering contemporary idolatries.
Mark Mattes
Lutheran Bible Institute Chair in Theology
Grand View University
Des Moines, Iowa

While it was eclipsed by the unionistic Barmen Declaration of 1934, the Bethel Confession of August 1933 stands as a testimony to the courageous efforts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hermann Sasse to use genuine Lutheran theology to critique the rise of National Socialism. Dr. Torbjörn Johansson provides readers with a fine historical introduction and a robust theological commentary on the Bethel Confession, demonstrating that this document is timely model for Lutherans in the twenty-first century. Sasse complained of how the Lutheran churches needed to be awaken from their “dogmatic slumbers” to confront satanic lies with the truth of Christ. While recognizing differences between Bonhoeffer and Sasse, Johansson demonstrates that they shared a common allegiance to the Holy Scriptures, a reliance on Luther’s theology, and a commitment to the Book of Concord. The Bethel Confession is a condensed systematic theology, demonstrating the vitality of Lutheran teaching to address contemporary issues. Faith in the Face of Tyranny: An Examination of the Bethel Confession Proposed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer Hermann Sasse in August 1933 is a most welcome addition to the body of scholarship on the history of the church under the Third Reich; but its value is not limited to academic researchers. This book is worthy of careful reading and reflection by pastors and lay people who struggle with questions of how the church bears witness with integrity before the powers of this age.

John T. Pless
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, IN
Product Details
ISBN: 9781956658668
ISBN-10: 1956658661
Publisher: 1517 Publishing
Publication Date: August 29th, 2023
Pages: 102
Language: English