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Presentation #1 Title

Broadcasting Law and Gospel: Paul Tillich’s Wartime Ministry to Nazi Germany

Presentation #1 Abstract

During the Second World War, the German theologian Paul Tillich, then a professor at Union Theologica Seminary, partnered with Voices of America to deliver over 100 addresses, many of which I would argue could be categorized as sermons in the general sense that they are speeches on religious subjects, and they are based on biblical texts and principles (though they are not part of a worship service). In these broadcasts, Tillich generally utilized the Lutheran categories of Law and Gospel to clarify the sins of the Nazis (and Hitler in particular) and remind the German population that they still have hope in redemption. Remarkably, Tillich argued for German collective guilt and the need for the atonement and expiation of the German people (themes Germans heard mostly only after the war). And he continually warned them of impending judgment and inescapable punishment—both human and divine—as the Allies advanced on the battlefield. Yet he often tempered this focus on judgment with an emphasis on the gospel, the certain hope Germans have in God’s salvation. This prism of Law and Gospel pervades the sermons. I will place these sermons in the context of the war, the wartime work of Voices in America, and what we know of other sermons delivered to Nazi Germany.

At-A-Glance Bios- Presenter #1

William Skiles is Assistant Professor of History at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He earned a PhD in European History from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He teaches courses in Western Civilization, World History, and modern European History, including a course on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. His research focuses on Confessing Church preaching in Nazi Germany and the ministries of German pastors of Jewish descent. He is currently working on a manuscript, Preaching to Nazi Germany, under contract with Fortress Press.

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Broadcasting Law and Gospel: Paul Tillich’s Wartime Ministry to Nazi Germany

During the Second World War, the German theologian Paul Tillich, then a professor at Union Theologica Seminary, partnered with Voices of America to deliver over 100 addresses, many of which I would argue could be categorized as sermons in the general sense that they are speeches on religious subjects, and they are based on biblical texts and principles (though they are not part of a worship service). In these broadcasts, Tillich generally utilized the Lutheran categories of Law and Gospel to clarify the sins of the Nazis (and Hitler in particular) and remind the German population that they still have hope in redemption. Remarkably, Tillich argued for German collective guilt and the need for the atonement and expiation of the German people (themes Germans heard mostly only after the war). And he continually warned them of impending judgment and inescapable punishment—both human and divine—as the Allies advanced on the battlefield. Yet he often tempered this focus on judgment with an emphasis on the gospel, the certain hope Germans have in God’s salvation. This prism of Law and Gospel pervades the sermons. I will place these sermons in the context of the war, the wartime work of Voices in America, and what we know of other sermons delivered to Nazi Germany.