association church churches objects
PROTESTANTENVEREIN is the name of a society in Germany the general object of which is to promote the union and the progress of the various established Pro-testant churches of the country in harmony with the advance of culture and on the basis of Christianity. It was founded at Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1863 by a nutnber of distinguished clergymen and laymen of liberal tendencies, representing the freer parties of the Lutheran and Reformed churches of the various German states, amongst whom were the statesmen Bluntschli and Von Bennigsen and the professors Rothe, Ewald, Schenkel, Hilgenfeld, and Hitzig. The more special objects of the association are the following : - the development of the churches on the basis of a representative parochial and synodal system of government in which the laity shall enjoy their full rights; the promotion of a federation of all the churches in one national church ; resistance to all hierarchical tendencies both within and without the Pro-testant churches; the promotion of Christian toleration and mutual respect amongst the various confessions ; the rousing and nurture of the Christian life and. of all Christian works necessary for the moral strength and prosperity of the nation. These objects include opposition to the claims of Rome and to autocratic interference with the church on the part of either political or ecclesiastical authorities, efforts to induce the laity to claim and exercise their privileges as members of the church, the assertion of the right of the clergy, laity, and both lay and clerical professors to search for and proclaim freely the truth in independence of the creeds and the letter of Scripture. When the association was first formed the necessity for it was felt to be great. The separation between the Calvinistic and the Lutheran churches on the one hand, and between the churches of the 3,-arious states on the other, even when the former separation had been bridged over by the Prussian Union ; the entire absence of any satisfactory system of church government, the autocratic authority of either the monarch or his ministers, or of the clergy, being supreme; the increasing encroachments of the papal power upon the rights of the individual and the state; the growing estrangement of the educated classes from the church on the one hand, with the manifestation of either ignorance of the fact or a determination to meet, it with bitter denunciation on the part of the orthodox clergy on the other, were regarded as urgent calls to action by the liberals. -Membership in the association is open to all Germans who are Protestants and declare their willingness to cooperate in promoting its objects. To facilitate its operations, the general association is broken up into a few groups or societies confined to certain geo-graphical areas. Every second year (at first every year) general meetings of the entire association are held at some convenient place. At first the governing committee had its permanent seat at Heidelberg, but in 1874 Berlin, as. the new capital of the empire, was chosen. The means used to promote the objects aimed at are mainly (1) the formation of local branch associations throughout the country, the duty of which is by lectures, meetings, and the distribution of suitable literature to make known and advocate its principles, and (2) the holding of great annual or biennial meetings of the whole association, at which its objects and principles are expounded and applied to the circumstances of the church at the moment. The "theses" accepted by the general meetings of the association as the result of the discussions on the papers read indicate the theological position of its members. The following may serve as illustrations : - The formation of the association at once provoked fierce and determined opposition on the part of the orthodox sections of the church, particularly in Berlin. Attempts more or less successful have been made from the first to exclude clergymen and professors identified with it from the pulpits and chairs of Berlin aud elsewhere, though mem-bership in it involves no legal disqualification for either. One of the objects of the association was to some extent obtained by the reorganization of the Prussian Clyirch when Dr Falk was cultus minister, on the basis of parochial and synodal representation, which came into full operation in 1879. But the election for the general synod turned out very unfavourable to the liberal party, and the large orthodox majority endeavoured to use their power against the principles and the members of the association. The members of the association elected to the creneral synod were nine only, while the party of the decieedly orthodox numbered upwards of seventy. In 1882 the position of the association was rendered still more difficult by the agitation in Berlin of Dr Kalthoff and other members of it in favour of a " people's church " on purely dis-senting and extremely advanced theological principles. The turn of the political tide in the direction of conserva-tism in Berlin indicated by the retireinent of the cultus minister Dr Falk increased the difficulties and the work of the association, far as Dr Falk was from sanctioning its theological principles. Moreover, it had sustained severe losses in its membership by- death and other At the end of the twelfth year of its existence (1877) the associa-tion had 7500 members, its annual income was naarlyi;350, and it lia,1 distributed in the same year 10,000 copies of its publications. In 1-S0 the number of members had risen to 26,000, and of local associations tu SO.
See Schenkel, Der Deutsche Protestantenverein und seine Bedeutung fin. die negenwart (Wiesbaden, 166s', 2d ed. 1871); Der Deutsche Protestataencerein seinen Statuten and den Thesen seiner Ilaupteersananlungen, 1865-82 (Berlin, 1:-e;3). and the annual reports in lhe Allgenteine Kirchliche Krona., 1865-62, and Theological Reacts., July 180, pp. 269-9G.