The Sacrament of Baptism: Discussion Guide

  1. In what ways did the Nazis manipulate the meaning and purpose of Christian baptism for their own political and racial agendas?
  2. How did the Barmen Declaration respond to the Nazis’ attempt to co-opt Christianity for their political goals? Do you think it was a strong enough response?
  3. How did the government’s racial purity laws affect the clergy and the church’s response to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany?
  4. What were the implications of the Nazis’ racial policies on all aspects of German society and the church’s role in this context?
  5. Discuss the complexities surrounding the church’s resistance to the Nazis: was it primarily founded on defending the boundaries between the state and the church or was it a response to the violence and injustice perpetrated by the Nazi regime?
  6. Why was it challenging for the church to find moral clarity during the Nazi era? How does this relate to our contemporary struggles in discerning right from wrong in society today?
  7. How did Martin Niemöller’s initial perspective on the Nazis evolve, and what role did he play in the resistance to the Nazi regime?
  8. Why do you think the Barman Declaration did not directly condemn the Nazi state or address the persecution of specific minority groups?
  9. In what ways did the misuse of religious symbols and rites for propagating hate during the Nazi era contrast with the values of love and acceptance central to the Christian faith?
  10. Is it fair to compare individuals in modern times to figures like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in their activism and resistance against societal injustices? What are the ethical implications of such comparisons?

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