Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia

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Newsletter- November 2002- Vol. VIII, no . 11

 


Dear Friends,


November 2nd has always been set aside in the Church Calendar as All Souls'
Day, marking the commemoration of the dead. Along with the more
nationalistic ceremonies of Armistice Day on November 11th , which mark the
annual remembrance of the fallen in the twentieth century's wars, this
would seem to be an appropriate occasion for a short discourse on modern
martyrology, which I here offer for your consideration.

Contents:

1)Modern martyrology.
2) In Memoriam: Prof. Kurt Nowak, Leipzig
3) Book reviews:

a) Genizi, Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant churches
b) Cresswell and Tow, Franz Hildebrandt

4) Review article by Prof. K.Repgen of M.Phayer, Catholic Church and the
Holocaust

1) Modern martyrology

In July 1998, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, a notable ceremony
was held outside the main, west entrance to Westminster Abbey in London.
It marked the unveiling of ten new statues of modern Christian martyrs - an
event full of remarkable significance. Westminster Abbey is, of course,
England's most renowned ecclesiastical building. Its location in the heart
of the nation's capital, the grandeur of its architecture, its thousand
years of continual worship, its multiple associations with the royal family
as the site of coronations, weddings and funerals, and its role as the
resting place of England's great and good from monarchs to poets and an
Unknown Soldier - all combine to make the Abbey the most famous shrine of
England's civil religion.

The decision, therefore, of the Abbey authorities to commission this new
group of sculptures was challenging and clearly deliberately so. For none
of those here commemorated was English, or indeed had any institutional
connections with the Church of England. Instead, this tribute was intended
to signify a wider vision of the Church by including a sample of men and
women from every part of the globe. Every continent is represented,
making this an emphatic statement of the Church's universal witness.
Equally inclusive is the range of denominational affiliations, as also the
rank of these martyrs from Catholic Archbishop to humble Papuan catechist.

No less challenging is the fact that these men and women so honoured are
all contemporary or near contemporary figures. The intention is clearly to
mark the fact that the Church is called to remember not only the heroes and
heroines of the distant past, but to proclaim the continuity of this
witness into the present. Most challenging of all was the decision to
commemorate not the apparently successful leaders of the Church, but ten
individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice of dying for their faith. The
purpose is to declare that the twentieth century was a century of Christian
martyrdom, and indeed that the number of Christians who died for their
beliefs was greater in this century than in any previous period in the
history of the Church. This sobering message is one of which too few people
are aware. The tragedies here depicted are a tangible, if limited, reminder
of the price of faith in a violent world of suspicion, ideology and conflict.

This striking, if surely unpopular, testimony to the cost of contemporary
discipleship is all the more remarkable because of the infrequency with
which it has been undertaken. Since the Reformation, the Church of
England, like other Protestant churches, has dispensed with the idea or the
practice of commemorating saints and martyrs. No institutional machinery to
do so exists - in contrast to the elaborate procedures still adhered to by
the Roman Catholic Church. And although the Anglican Church still
upholds the doctrine of sanctity and venerates individual saints of earlier
centuries, it has no mechanism for adding to their number. Indeed martyrs
and martyrdom, to many people, suggested overtones of superstition or
fanaticism. Over the centuries, the evocation of martyrs in England,
particularly those of Protestants who died at the hand of Queen Mary in the
1550s, aroused political passions of a vitriolic, even violent, kind. In
the nineteenth century an enormous struggle took place in Oxford to erect a
suitable memorial to the martyrs, Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, burnt to
death in the heart of the university. It aroused such controversy as to
make a repetition of this commemoration seem unwise. So the decision of
the Westminster Abbey authorities aroused considerable interest but also
some anxious questioning. Such doubts may have been in part mitigated by
the fact that most of the names selected were the victims of those
politically repressive and anti-Christian forces, particularly Nazism and
Communism, which, by the 1990s, had been overthrown. This fact seemed to
give a final proof that these martyrs' sacrifices had not been in vain.

The criteria used for their selection by the Abbey's Dean and Chapter
(i.e. the clergy members of staff) have not been revealed. The process must
have been difficult and indeed invidious. Nevertheless it may surely be
regretted that none of their own countrymen was chosen, such as, for
example, the eminently eligible figure of Miss Jane Haining, who was the
only Scotswoman to be murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.
Jane Haining grew up in the lowlands of Scotland, but as an adult
discovered an interest in the Christian Mission to the Jews. In 1932 she
received a call to go out and help the Church of Scotland Mission to the
Jews in Budapest, where she became the matron of the girls' school and
hostel, which housed many pupils of Jewish background.
Hungarian is a difficult language to learn. But evidently, Jane Haining
succeeded in establishing warm contact with her charges, a feeling mutually
returned.

When war broke out in 1939, Jane Haining chose to remain in Hungary,
trusting in its neutrality. But as the tide of war swept across Europe, all
foreign civilians were advised to be evacuated. She refused to go, despite
the clear dangers. Finally in March 1944 German troops seized control of
Hungary. Almost immediately Adolf Eichmann arrived in Budapest to organize
the mass deportation of Jews to the killing fields of Poland. Jane
Haining saw the need to protect her charges. "If these children need me in
the days of sunshine", she said," how much more do they need me in the days
of darkness".

Her courage was matched by the resolute action of a few other Hungarian
Protestants, such as the pastor of the Good Shepherd Church, who organized
an extensive rescue mission on behalf of the persecuted Jews. But the
Germans and their Hungarian fascist associates were ruthless. Jane Haining
was well known to be a foreigner. She was denounced as being a British spy,
for giving aid to escaped British prisoners-of-war, and above all for
helping the now unwanted Jews. As a result, in May, her school was raided
by the Hungarian police, and she was given fifteen minutes to get ready
before they took her away to jail.

On her arrival in Auschwitz, she was put in the women's camp and had the
number 79467 tattooed on her arm. One last letter was received by her
friends in Budapest, asking for food. But on 17 August 1944, along with a
batch of Hungarian women, she was gassed. Subsequently her selfless
dedication to the Jewish children and her Christian faithfulness unto death
were remembered both in her home parish in Glasgow and at the Holocaust
Memorial Centre at Yad Washem in Jerusalem. And in 1984 a plaque was
placed on the wall of the Scottish church in Budapest, whose inscription
reads as follows:

"Remembering with eternal gratitude and reverence Miss Jane Haining
who in 1944 for her humaneness died as a martyr in Auschwitz.
The Jewish parish Budapest 1944-1984"

At the present time, the Protestant church most engaged with the
commemoration of twentieth century martyrs is the Evangelical Church of
Germany. Since 1990, when both the nation and the Evangelical Church were
again reunited, it has become feasible to consider recording the fates of
those victimized by the dictatorships prevailing in Germany between 1933
and 1989. To be sure, after 1945, some steps were taken to commemorate
those members, particularly of the minority Confessing Church, such as
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Schneider, for their deaths at the Nazis'
hands. But the widespread refusal of the majority of the population to come
to terms with their Nazi past, and the blanket of forgetfulness which
prevailed in those early years, made any adequate recognition almost
impossible. Too many German Evangelicals had given their uncritical and
fulsome support to the Nazi regime for any praise of its victims to be
welcome. Similarly, the Church's compromises and accommodations with the
subsequent Communist dictatorship during the forty years of the German
Democratic Republic were a sad legacy. It led many Evangelicals to avoid
being reminded of the sacrifices of such men as Pastor Oskar Brüsewitz, who
burnt himself to death in protest against the regime's religious policies
in 1976.


The changed political climate in recent years now makes it possible to
seek to compile a comprehensive and accurate listing of all German-speaking
martyrs of the German Evangelical Church during these fateful years. But
there remains an overtone of this being something of an attempt to rescue
the credibility of this Church after its chequered record over the last
century. As well, there is a need to emulate the parallel efforts of the
German Catholic Church, whose list of their martyrs occupies two large
volumes.

The criteria for selection are still being discussed. Since the
Evangelical Church, in contrast to the Catholics, has no continuing process
for denoting martyrs, it had to start more or less from scratch.
Agreement was quickly reached to make the period covered extend from 1917
to 1989, and also to include German-speaking Protestants not only in
Germany itself but in some of its outposts in eastern Europe. Researches
are now being undertaken not only in church archives, but also in newly
available government or police papers. The aim is to compile as accurate
and complete a historical record as possible. But over the years, the
perception has grown that the concept of martyrdom needs to be enlarged.

To limit it to the earlier presumption of a witness to Christ, who was
killed in upholding some particular article of faith or defended some
particular ecclesiastical institution or programme, now seems too narrow in
the face of the kind of oppression instituted by the twentieth century's
racial and political dictatorships. The ideologically-based persecution
of the Churches by such regimes was instituted principally for their
upholding the cause of downtrodden minorities or opposing flagrant acts of
injustice. Therefore, participation in the defence of a wider spectrum of
Christian values, especially those relating to justice and peace, would
seem more persuasive as grounds for possible recognition as a modern
martyr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw this dilemma clearly in 1939. Germans had
the choice of "either willing the defeat of Germany in order that
Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation
and thereby destroying our civilization". His decision for the former
alternative drove him to join the resistance movement and led directly to
his eventual death. But such discipleship involved political opposition and
even engaging in acts of violence, such as the assassination of the
dictator Hitler. For the majority of conservative German Evangelicals such
a stance was inadmissible. When, as late as 1960, one senior Lutheran
bishop was asked to unveil a memorial plaque in Bonhoeffer's honour, he
refused to do so on the grounds that Bonhoeffer was not a Christian martyr
but a political traitor, and deserved the fate he got.

Today there is greater sensitivity that the boundaries defining martyrdom
should not be so narrowly drawn.

Such an extension of the criteria to include those murdered while
struggling against political oppression, however, raises further
difficulties. In the case of the German Resistance Movement, many of
those who lost their lives had only tenuous connections with the church, or
were prompted by purely secular or nationalist motives. Should the Church
thus exclude them from any listing of martyrs? Is a revolt of conscience
enough, especially when this can only be a subjective judgment on the part
of the later beholder? And where whole groups or minorities were
persecuted or put to death, such as Jews, gypsies, the mentally handicapped
or homosexuals, can the church claim that their nominal membership makes
them eligible? Should Edith Stein, for example, gassed in Auschwitz in
1942, be remembered as a Catholic nun or as a Jewish woman? Or does the
definition of martyrdom require some positive and conscious acceptance of
the risk of death, as a terrible alternative governing behaviour.

Particularly problematical is the question of suicide. Was Pastor
Brüsewitz's deliberate act of self-immolation an act to which the church
should later give its approval and praise, and by implication reprove
others who did not choose such a path? Or take the case of the famous
German writer Jochen Klepper who committed suicide with his whole family in
1942 out of fear that they would be committed to deportation and death
under the Nazi racial edicts. Should such a death be seen as participating
in the sufferings of a persecuted group, and hence be worthy of the name of
martyrdom.

As Ursula Büttner of Hamburg recently pointed out, these are some of the
issues currently engaging the scholars of the German Evangelical Church's
historical commission. If the traditional definition of martyrdom now seems
too limited and exclusive, the newer perspectives also cause problems
because they lack boundaries or exactitude. Even as the search for
accurate biographical details continues, it will be necessary to find a
sustainable but comprehensive concept, which will carry conviction among
church members, and provide inspiration to the whole church in the future.

2) In Memoriam, Kurt Nowak, Leipzig
To mark the death at the end of last year of Professor Kurt Leipzig, the
most distinguished church historian in east Germany, a ceremony was held at
the University of Leipzig recently at which his Collected Essays were
presented to his widow and to the Dean of the Theological Faculty, and the
following tribute paid to his memory.

Wie Herausgeber Prof. Dr. Jochen-Christoph Kaiser (Marburg) auf der
Gedenkveranstaltung sagte, habe sich Prof. Nowak seit Mitte der 70er
Jahre für die Errichtung einer publizistischen Plattform für Themen der
kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte engagiert, und zwar als gesamtdeutsch zu
realisierendes Projekt, mit dem die engeren Grenzen der traditionellen
Kirchengeschichte überschritten werden sollten. Band 1 erschien 1988,
Band 30 wird Ende 2003 herauskommen. Anspruch war und ist, einer
größeren Öffentlichkeit die historische Ortsbestimmung des Christentums in
der Zeitgeschichte (vom Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Gegenwart)
zu verdeutlichen, was nur im Zusammenhang mit der allgemeinen
Geschichte, also mit politischen, sozialen, kulturellen und religiösen
Fragestellungen geschehen kann. Insgesamt lässt sich feststellen, dass
die Grenzüberschreitung von der Theologie zur Geschichte, wie sie von
Prof. Nowak und dem Leipziger Institut für Kirchengeschichte praktiziert
wurde, zur Etablierung der kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte als Disziplin mit
eigenem Anspruch und Gewicht Wesentliches beigetragen hat.
Zuvor hatten Dekan Prof. Dr. Dr. Günther Wartenberg, Rektor Prof. Dr.
Volker Bigl und Prof. Dr. Martin Greschat (Münster) in Worten des
Gedenkens Person und Werk des viel zu früh verstorbenen Historikers,
Theologen, Universitätspredigers und Schriftstellers gewürdigt. Immer
wieder wurden dabei sein enzyklopädisches Wissen, sein Ideenreichtum,
seine Kreativität, seine ausgeprägte Interdisziplinarität hervorgehoben.

In DDR-Zeiten sei er bei aller klugen Taktik gelegentlicher Konzessionen
selbstbewusst gegen enge Grenzziehungen und Einengungen für sein Fach,
für die Theologie und die historischen Wissenschaften insgesamt
angegangen und habe er sich so ein wissenschaftliches Wirken mit
Ausstrahlung über Leipzig und die DDR hinaus gesichert. Und für die Zeit
nach dem Umbruch von 1989/90 konnte Prof. Bigl feststellen, dass Kurt
Nowak den wissenschaftlichen Ruf der Universität Leipzig im In- und
Ausland gemehrt und er den Anfang gemacht habe, die Theologie in einer
säkularen Gesellschaft wieder stärker in der Mitte der Universität zu
verorten. Dies sei zugleich sein Vermächtnis an die heutige Universität.

3) Book reviews


a) Haim Genizi, Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches.
Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press 2002 xvi,320 pp.
Can$ 49.95. ISBN 0-7735-7401-0

Haim Genizi is an Israeli scholar who has already written two notable
books on American attitudes towards refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe. The current
work can be seen as a sequel. While it concentrates on the Canadian Protestant
churches, it describes the responses to Judaism and the Jewish people, and in particular
to the fortunes of the State of Israel in the fifty years after its
foundation in 1948, which are shared by several other church bodies. It is
hence a complementary study to Alan Davies' and Marilyn Nefsky's 1997 book
How silent were the Churches? Canadian Protestantism and the Jewish plight
during the Nazi Era, as well as to Paul Merkley's recent work Christian
Attitudes towards the State of Israel. It is too bad that a similar
account of Catholic responses has still to be written.

Genizi believes that Canadian Protestant attitudes during the Holocaust,
and their critical views of the State of Israel, can be accounted for,
mainly but not exclusively, by Christian antisemitism, whether consciously
or unconsciously. The initial Protestant opinions of Judaism and the State
of Israel were more theologically- than politically-based. But over the
years, this position has been reversed. The Protestants' sense of guilt
about their failure to do more for the Jewish victims of Nazism led to a
reassessment of their inherited anti-Judaic intolerance, and to a striking
change of attitudes towards Judaism. By the 1970s, this major alteration
in mainstream Protestantism, as also in the Roman Catholic Church, saw a
new appreciation of the Jewish heritage, an abandonment of Church
supersessionism and a revision of missionary approaches.

On the other hand, Protestant views of Israel have also changed markedly -
to a much more critical stance. Particularly after 1967, sympathy with
the Palestinians has been uppermost in the majority of Canadian Protestant
publications. Genizi concentrates especially on the largest Protestant
community, the United Church of Canada and on its journal The Observer.
Four central and detailed, though somewhat repetitive, chapters outline the
opinions of this journal's editor, A.C. Forrest, whose outspoken criticisms
of Israel during the 1970s led to a serious poisoning of relations between
his supporters and the Canadian Jewish community.

The United Church of Canada saw, and sees, itself as the bastion of
liberal democratic views. Under Forrest, its journal became a champion for
the underdog, namely the victimized Palestinians. The one-sidedness of the
approach, and the violence of the language used, was bound to be offensive
to Canadian Jews, whose "exile psychology" led them to see any Gentile
criticism of Israel as yet another example of traditional Christian
antisemitism. And yet, the United Church had a commendable record of
shedding earlier dogmatism and entrenched attitudes. Its strictures were
hence derived from ethical rather than theological principles. Its leaders
shared a universalist vision of world peace. The Middle East, they hoped,
could be a region where the wolf and the lamb would feed together, and
where "righteousness and praise would spring forth before all the nations".
But the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and its treatment of the
civilian population, seemed only to rekindle ancient hatreds. As one
leading United Churchman lamented: "The Holy Land might become the Unholy
Land . . . since . . . that which was intended for the healing of the
nations will only prove to be a curse and an abomination".

For the United Church, both political and ecumenical considerations led to
strong support for the Arab cause, ignoring the Israelis' justifications.
Its Councils abandoned the kind of balanced approach which most of the
other Canadian churches sought to adopt, at least until the 1980s. Genizi
rightly deplores the one-sidedness of these pronouncements with the double
standard of morality, which condemned Israeli violence against the
Palestinians while excusing Arab violence in return.

Yet, at the same time, Genizi is aware that Canadian Protestant circles
are not unanimous, but rather display contradictory views over the Middle
East. On the one side, many Protestants learnt from the Holocaust that
they should repudiate the sad legacy of theological anti-Judaism of earlier
centuries. After 1945, the influence of the noted Swiss theologian, Karl
Barth, played a considerable role in creating a much more positive image of
Judaism. There was a renewal of interest in the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e. the
Old Testament, and a recognition of the significance of the land in Jewish
history and thinking. These factors led to important support for the State
of Israel and for its desire to live in peace within secure and defensible
borders.

On the other hand, other Protestants learnt a different lesson from the
Holocaust. They believed that the churches' lack of concern about the
Jewish plight was due, not so much to entrenched antisemitism, as to the
pietistic tendency to limit Christian discipleship to the search for
individual salvation. The time had come, they now believed, for the church
to become far more active in its political witness, both at home and
abroad. Building on the tradition of the social gospel, this meant
resolute stands on behalf of the poor, the needy, the refugees and the
oppressed. Canadian Protestants, particularly from the 1960s, took their
cue from the World Council of Churches, believing that they were called to
be "the voice of the voiceless". The implications of such a stand in terms
of the Middle East are obvious.

Since these opposing and incompatible views within the Protestant ranks
appeal to equally valid theological premises, it has been impossible to
find a reconciling formula. In fact, the situation over the past decades is
and has been a sore trial to Christian consciences. The complications and
ambiguities of the Middle East have been a constant source of conflict and
frustration. Critical observers are right to suspect the tendency to
misuse faith perspectives for one-sided political purposes. Genizi could
have given more attention to this complexity in many Protestant minds
For other Canadian Protestants, however, their humanitarian, if somewhat
simplistic, sympathies for the underdog in the conditions of military
occupation and oppression, have propelled them to express undifferentiated
support for the Palestinians. Their leaders' dilemma has been how to
express strong criticism of the Israeli government's policies without
arousing the suspicion that they are rehashing traditional antisemitic
attitudes. Genizi's careful narrative of how this dilemma has been faced
is most commendable. So too is his acquaintance with and understanding of
Canadian ecclesiastical structures and personalities. This lends extra
credibility to his analysis of the attitudes of such leading churchmen as
Claris Silcox, E.M.Howse, A.C.Forrest and Archbishop Michael Peers. These
descriptions are skillfully drawn from the extensive archival sources
Genizi has consulted, supplemented by a few personal interviews. We could
wish that more of these, from a larger and more representative sample of
Protestant opinion beyond the Toronto centre, had been included. These
would surely have shown even more clearly the ambivalent attitudes of
Canadian Protestants, which are notably shared by other secular sections of
Canadian opinion.

Genizi makes clear his regret that Canadian Protestants have so constantly
expressed their support of Israel's opponents in the Middle East. Since he
can't admit the validity of these criticisms of his own government, he
attributes such attacks to an underlying Christian antisemitism, and thus
reinforces the view long held by many sections of the Canadian Jewish
community.

But had he taken a wider perspective, he would have recognized that such a
stance is fully consistent with the approach towards the broad range of
international affairs adopted by the Canadian Protestant churches for the
past half century. First and foremost has been their fear of nuclear war
and the use of weapons of mass destruction. Hence the priority given to
the need for world disarmament, and consequently the support for
international peace-keeping through the UN. Second, Canadians have
expressed their strong opposition to military interventions, especially by
the United States in support of its allies. Hence the resolute Canadian
campaign against any involvement in Vietnam or Iraq. Third, their sympathy
with victimized societies can be seen in Latin America in Cuba and
Nicaragua, or in Africa, for Biafra and Ethiopia. Canadian Protestants
have vigorously combated racism, especially in South Africa; they have
protested against ethnic cleansing in Bosnia;


Their stance in the Middle East is therefore all part of this
moralistic-humanitarian vision of world peace, prompted by Christian
idealism. This view refuses to endorse such concepts as "Realpolitik" or
to support politically expedient compromises. Such a vision necessarily
leads to much frustration, when its ideals are not achieved. But the
Protestant watchword is: hope; its characteristic failing is: naivete. By
mobilizing church opinion, debating resolutions, writing pamphlets,
lobbying politicians, these church activists campaign year in year out for
a better world. If the policies of the Israeli government seem to have
thwarted such a desirable goal, the consequent criticisms should be seen as
the product, not of Christian antisemitism, but of heartfelt
disappointment. Nevertheless, despite all the complexities and
ambiguities of the Middle East situation, Canadian Protestants continue to
believe that one day their goals of tolerance, peace, justice and
righteousness will prevail. These are, after all, Jewish goals too.

Genizi's well-written survey of Canadian Protestant opinion deserves to be
widely read, if only because the issues he analyses are being discussed in
many other western Protestant communities. His narrative of the debate
shows clearly the continuing difficulty of how to apply Christian
principles in the circumstances of seemingly incompatible political
hostilities and irreconcilable antipathies of the Middle East. Genizi has
given us a thoughtful account of this ongoing but unresolved controversy.
Both Canadians and non-Canadians will benefit from his insights.
JSC


b) Amos Cresswell and Maxwell Tow, Dr Franz Hildebrandt. Mr Valiant-for
Truth. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys Publishing Inc. 2000. 254 pp.

Franz Hildebrandt, a close associate of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has the good
fortune to have two biographies, one in German, the other in English.
Holger Roggelin's well-researched study (reviewed here Vol.VI, no 5 - May
2000) described Hildebrandt's early years until his enforced exile from
Germany. This memoir by two former colleagues, one British, one American,
together traces Hildebrandt's subsequent career in their respective
countries. As can be expected, the first chapters recapitulate the German
background.

Hildebrandt's strong attachment to the Confessing Church, his service as
Niemöller's curate, and his partly Jewish background, made him a marked
man. In 1937 he was arrested by the Gestapo while holding a service. After
a short imprisonment, he left the country immediately, unable to return.
His first refuge was in England, where he moved to Cambridge to study
theology at Ridley College. At the same time, he gathered together the
German Protestant refugees in the city and acted as their pastor in a
specially forged congregation. The outbreak of war in 1939 only increased
the personal and psychological stress faced by these exiles. Their
attachment to their homeland was shattered, even as they faced suspicion or
worse amongst their new hosts. In 1940, like most "enemy aliens",
Hildebrandt was interned on the Isle of Man. Fortunately the support of
such Anglican leaders as Bishop Bell of Chichester secured his release
after a few months. From then on, he was very much engaged in his pastoral
duties. At the same time he wrestled with the theological issues caused by
the war, especially pacifism to which he clung resolutely. The same German
theological thoroughness made him impatient with the compromises of
Anglican theology, especially of leading liberals such as Canon Charles
Raven, one of his benefactors in Cambridge. The resulting clash was perhaps
the reason why he refused to accept the offer of Anglican ordination.
Instead he gave his allegiance to the Methodists, having been much moved by
the piety of the Wesleys and their hymns.

He readily believed that the English Luther could be found in Charles Wesley.
Hildebrandt found the Methodist fellowship and his charge in Cambridge to
be warm and welcoming. His idealism for the Church was however matched by
a certain rigour and intolerance of error, especially theological. It was
hardly surprising that in 1953 he should have been recruited for a teaching
post at the Methodist Drew University in New Jersey, and served there for a
number of years. His Lutheran and biblical background complemented his
vision of spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land. But in the
triumphalist and materialist culture of the United States, such a goal
meant hard striving. Many of his students found Hildebrandt's courses too
demanding. But he was convinced that the true Christians were those who
discovered the Bible as the living word of God, placing it at the centre of
their lives.


Unfortunately Hildebrandt's term at Drew University came to an end in 1967
over a heated dispute with an autocratic President. The majority of his
colleagues in theology resigned, bringing to an end much of the impetus he
had sought to establish. He retreated to Scotland, but found himself
embroiled in an equally critical debate over the future of the Methodist
Church and its possible merger with the Church of England. As before, he
refused any compromise over possible re-ordination of Methodist ministers
and remained obdurate against any watering down of doctrines through
'liberty of interpretation'. Along with other dissentients, he stood firm
on the Reformation principle of sola scriptura, solo Christo, solo gratia.
In the end the proposed scheme of unity failed, but it led Hildebrandt to
resign from the Methodist ministry amidst considerable acrimony.


He ended his days as a part-time associate in the Church of Scotland, but
never achieved the recognition he deserved from any ecclesiastical
structure. Cresswell and Tow pay tribute to his strengths. They suggest
that his experience of the German Confessing Church Struggle made him a
resolute opponent of any misuse of power by church or secular authorities.
He was therefore incisively critical of institutional expediency - in
short a Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. It was a stance which required courage but
did not bring popularity. But like his model the Wesleys, he could be
upheld by the certainty of righteousness. And this was his reward.
JSC


4) Review article: With the title "Connecting the Church and the Shoah",
Professor Konrad Repgen, the doyen of German Catholic Church Historians,
has written an extensive and critical review of Michael Phayer,The Catholic
Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, in the recent issue of Catholic
Historical Review, Vol LXXXVIII, no 3, July 2002, p 546-553.

With best wishes to you all in this autumnal season.
John S.Conway
Jconway@interchange.ubc.ca
Website: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/akz