The Bethel Confession, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“A young Dietrich Bonhoeffer found himself in Bethel in the late spring and summer of 1933. This was a time of intense strife and turmoil within the German national church, called the German Evangelical Church, or the Reich Church. The Reich Church had already endorsed the Nazi Party. A minority within the church saw this action as selling the church’s soul, so this minority formed a splinter group within the larger church called the Confessing Church.

Bonhoeffer found himself playing a significant role in this new organization. Though Bonhoeffer was young, he was a very accomplished theologian, and at Bethel he decided that this church needed a doctrinal statement. With the help of a friend, he began to write the Bethel Confession. He wrote the first draft in the summer of 1933 and another draft a couple months later. Unfortunately, that draft would be taken over by a committee, and it was entirely butchered. When he got the draft back, Bonhoeffer didn’t even recognize it as his own. In reviewing it, he said, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.'”


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