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Chvala-Smith Article Published

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Faculty

April 16, 2018

An article by Graceland University Assistant Professor of Theology and Scripture and Paul E. Morden Seminary Chair of Religion Anthony Chvala-Smith titled “In Life and in Death”: Barth, Bonhoeffer, and the Path from the Great War to the Confessing Church was  just published in the Mennonite Quarterly Review 92 (April 2018): 149-172.

Abstract: Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) are associated with landmark achievements in twentieth-century Protestant theology, including their opposition to Nazism. Barth played a leading role in crafting the Barmen Declaration (1934), which gave a doctrinal basis for Protestant resistance to German nationalism, and Bonhoeffer articulated a pacifist ethic and trained pastors in an illegal seminary to resist Nazi ideology. This paper argues that both theologians’ resistance to fascism was shaped by their experience and interpretation of World War I. The Great War brought trauma to both figures: for Bonhoeffer the loss of his older brother in battle, and for Barth the loss of confidence in a modern theological paradigm that was powerless to help its devotees oppose the war. The thought of both theologians calls the contemporary church to oppose resurgent American nationalism and authoritarianism by unmasking its idolatrous mythic ground.

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