The “Aryan Paragraph”
Bonhoeffer fought against the “Aryan Paragraph” yet once again in early September of 1933. His pamphlet “The Aryan Paragraph in the Church” was intended to make an impact on attendees of the Old Prussian Union’s general synod in particular. Nevertheless, this assembly, later notorious as the “Brown Synod”, adopted the “Aryan Paragraph” for the regional church against little resistance.
As a result, Bonhoeffer asked Karl Barth in a letter to confirm his impression that the status confessionis existed, i.e. a confessional state or emergency. In Protestantism this means: If the Christian faith is so fundamentally violated that the church is no longer the church, then a schism is imperative.
Bonhoeffer believed that this was now the case. Barth however warned them against rashly precipitating a schism themselves. If at all, it had to come from the other side. [...] It might then well be that the clash is over an even more central point.
His warning arrived too late. Together with Niemöller and others, Bonhoeffer had already initiated the drafting of a declaration of church emergency law on September 7, 1933. The adoption of the “Aryan Paragraph” in church law proclaims a state, which ought to be regarded as an injustice according to the confession of faith, to be church law and violates the confession of faith. [...] Whoever gives his consent to such a breach of the confession of faith, thus excludes himself from the fellowship of the church.
According to this view, the other side had already been effectuated the schism and an emergency law to protect the church’s mission had to go into effect. The gathering of likeminded individuals in the “Pastors’ Emergency League”, which largely originated from Bonhoeffer and Niemöller’s groundwork, was a crucial step in this direction.
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