Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Continuing Relevance of the Barmen Declaration

May 31, 2007 is the 73rd. anniversary of the signing of the Barmen Decalaration, whose signatories included Karl Barth and which is an important document in understanding the theology and eventual martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The text of the declaration is included in the Barmen Declaration, available here:

"Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God's commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.8.23 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. "

The relevance of the Barmen Declaration should ne noted for contemporary debates in church-state relations. For instance, a number of academics and think thankers on the secular left have recently advocated (in Canada anyway - there were suggestions that made their way into a couple op-ed pieces) for the establishment of government certification boards which could vet those persons seeking ordained ministry and equivalent certifications in non-Christian religious bodies. There is an authoritarian ring to such suggestions which needs pointing out.

The Barmen Decalration is perhaps more relevant than anyone might have supposed several years ago, and of course I make this suggestion fully mindful of the abusive and grossly uncharitable language that many religious fundamentalists continue to spew against various minorities. The proper response to bad theology is good theology, not state regulation of churches.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

And Larry arnhart has commented rather shrewdly I think on Mansfield's lecture. Here-- scroll down.

Going to the Heart of It

This lecture transcript is from Harvey Mansfield. It is capacious and captivating:

Paul Allen