John Stackhouse outlines the choice facing the German church after 1933.
As National Socialism comes to power, especially after Hitler is Chancellor in 1933, the German church splits. The majority of Germans do what they’ve been trained to do by their Lutheran and Reformed heritage, which is to respect those who are in authority, trusting that God in his mysterious providence knows what he’s doing. And so they become known as the German Christians.
A minority of German pastors, and some lay people, form what is called the Confessing Church. And they confess that Jesus is Lord, not the Führer – because remember, that’s what it means in German, Jesus is Führer, not Adolf Hitler. And they form this righteous minority of those who are saying, we will not go along with the National Socialist agenda of bringing all institutions under the power of the state, and particularly of the leader.