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Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich.

Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich. Edited by Dean G. Stroud. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-80286902-9, xii and 203 pages. Paper. $20.00.

This impressive collection details how preachers responded to the rise of National Socialism in Adolf Hitler's Germany. Stroud's compendium includes sermons from famous Confessing Church leaders, such as Bonhoeffer and Barth, as well as the works of otherwise ordinary pastors who ministered in an extraordinary time.

Stroud's introduction details the historical context in which the Third Reich arose, as well as how "German Christians"--a theological movement within Germany committed to Hitler's cause--recast Christian theology in terms palatable for Nazis. In particular, Stroud explores the ways in which Nazis utilized a particular vocabulary to exert control on the German Volk, as well as disempower other guiding narratives, particularly those of Christianity. Woven within this discussion, Stroud depicts the rise of the Confessing Church as an orthodox response to the German Christians, a theological subversion of National Socialism, and a movement with an alternative language to Nazi speech. The included sermons exemplify these markers of the Confessing Church.

Each sermon Stroud presents lifts up one way to preach as one opposed to an oppressive state in a particular context. Some respond to the atrocities of Aktion T4, the governmental program of euthanasia for those deemed unproductive, and thus unworthy, members of society. Others, given the Sunday after Kristallnacht, condemn the demolition of Jewish life by Nazis. Still others reveal how preachers responded to the invasion of Poland and the turn against the U.S.S.R. At each turn, we see how pastors sought to edify congregations in the midst of a context hostile to Christianity. Further, each speaks with a unique prophetic voice that seeks God's reign rather than the rule of a false Fuhrer.

Readers will not only find powerful examples of gospel proclamation, but will see how the sermon may faithfully confront systems of oppression in the political and social realm.

Andrew Tucker

Christ Lutheran Church, Radford, Va.

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Author:Tucker, Andrew
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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