New Judson Press book revisits European Baptist responses to the Holocaust
VALLEY FORGE, PA (10/18/22)—Drawing from historical documents from the Baptist World Alliance, newspaper articles from “Baptist Times” and others, and the works of contemporary and historic German theologians, Baptist historian Lee B. Spitzer weaves a disturbing yet hopeful narrative in the new Judson Press release “Sympathy, Solidarity, and Silence: Three European Baptist Responses to the Holocaust.”
From this forceful retelling of how Baptists in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany responded to Nazism and the ensuing Holocaust, readers will learn that European Baptists faced challenges akin to those of their counterparts in the United States but made more difficult due to physical and political proximity to the Nazi state. Spitzer shares how European Baptist national fellowships felt compelled to clarify their stance on totalitarianism, Nazism, and anti-Semitism considering Baptist core convictions such as soul freedom and personality, separation of church and state, and democracy and freedom in both the civil and political spheres.
The author answers difficult questions, including:
- How did Baptist theology inspire some to save lives, while the Church was used as a tool to promote the most unthinkable of human behaviors in neighboring countries?
- How did the Baptist World Alliance respond to this deep conflict?
- Would the Baptist principles of freedom prevail?
The Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee, distinguished university professor of Christian ethics, Mercer University; chair in Christian social ethics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; senior research fellow, International Baptist Theological Study Centre; and past president of the American Academy of Religion, Society of Christian Ethics, calls this book “brilliantly researched, compellingly written, and animated by a profound clarity of moral vision.” He says, “Sympathy, Solidarity, and Silence,” is “a must-read, reaching far beyond the circle of historians. It is a warning—to all of us—about the power of nationalist and racist idolatry to seduce Christians away from Jesus Christ.”
Historian for the Baptist World Alliance and affiliate professor of Church history at Northern Seminary in Chicago, Spitzer also wrote “Baptists, Jews & the Holocaust: The Hand of Sincere Friendship,” which is considered the authoritative work on how Baptists in the U.S. responded to the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust.
Spitzer is the retired general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA and serves on the Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and as an IBTS research fellow. His website is baptistholocauststudies.org, and he blogs at baptistholocauststudies.org/reflections.
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