Courtesy Reuters

The Protestant Churches in Europe

WHAT have the Protestant Churches of Europe learned, suffered and achieved in the world crisis? What may be expected -- for them, and from them -- in the days to come?

In trying to answer these questions I ask the reader to remember that church affairs, like everything else in Europe, are in such a state of flux that historical opinions must be ventured with diffidence and accepted with caution. In the end, things can turn out altogether differently from what even the most painstaking analysis would lead one to expect now. Moreover, the reader must realize that the various Protestant Churches in Europe, like the European nations themselves, are isolated from each other and that contacts and exchanges of views between them are relatively rare and casual. Even within individual countries, as for instance in the different sections of Germany, or until recently between the occupied and unoccupied zones of France, churchmen know comparatively little about one another. A comprehensive picture of the life of the Protestant communities in Europe can therefore be presented only in broad, general outlines, and with the reservation that even these change from time to time. Finally, I should like to emphasize that personally I have no official function or responsibility either in the Swiss Church or in the Geneva center of the ecumenical church organizations, and so write only as a private individual and express opinions determined merely by my own insight.

II

The present world crisis began when the National Socialists came to power in Germany in the year 1933. It found most of the Protestant Churches of Europe in the initial stages of a process of internal and external rebuilding and consolidation on the basis of a renewed consciousness of their peculiar nature and mission.

The catastrophe of the World War of 1914-1918 was widely felt to have been a serious indictment of the Church and of the Christianity of that day, still strongly under the influence of the intellectual and political developments

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