Synopses & Reviews
What does a religious community do when confronted by a political regime determined to eliminate a religion? Under communism, Hungaryandrsquo;s persecuted Lutheran Church tried desperately to find a strategy for survival while remaining faithful to its Christian beliefs. Appealing to the Lutheran Confessions, many argued that the church can do whatever is necessary to survive provided it does not compromise on its essential ministry, while others appealing to the witness of the confessor Bishop Lajos Ordass, argued that the church must uncompromisingly witness to the truth even if that means ecclesiological extinction.
In The Struggle of Hungarian Lutherans under Communism, H. David Baer draws upon the disciplines of theology, history, ethics, and politics to provide a comprehensive analysis of the different strategies developed by the church to preserve its integrity. Relying on previously unnoted archival documents and other primary sources, Baer has made a substantial contribution to Eastern European studies.
Vigorously written, his telling of the history is also a sensitive and moving account of courage and cowardice in the face of religious persecution. This book should be of interest not only to students of religion in Eastern Europe but also to anyone concerned about the problems that arise wherever there is religious persecution.
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and#8220;There is no proper, objective history of Hungaryand#8217;s Lutheran community during the state-socialist era. The author is a fine scholar and his mastery of the subject shines through every page. This unique book is a major contribution and fills a large gap in the literature.and#8221;--Zoltan Barany, University of Texas
andldquo; . . . a striking tale of fidelity and infidelity, courage, compromise, confusion, and cowardice. David Baer has done all Christians a service by reminding us that the basic Christian confession, andlsquo;Jesus is Lord,andrsquo; has a lot to do with public life. When the church remembers that, it can speak truth to power in ways that change history. When it forgets that saying andlsquo;Jesus is Lordandrsquo; means that Caesar isnandrsquo;t Lord, the church betrays itself and the society it is called to serve.andrdquo;--George Weigel, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC
andldquo;David Baer provides an accurate description, a thorough and profound analysis, and a rigorous evaluation of the Lutheran churchandrsquo;s response to the communist party-stateandrsquo;s repression, persecution, and control in Hungary. In his book we have a rare commodity, a first class theological investigation of the few moral options left to a church living under brutal conditions of communist dicatorship. Baer has a gift for splendid writing. He shows an admirable ability as a social ethicist and occasionally even as a church historian who understands the broad patterns of the way a church functions in the context of its society and culture. He writes critically yet not judgmentally; he shows empathy without adulation.andrdquo;--Paul Mojzes, Rosemont College and Founder and co-editor, Religi
About the Author
H. DAVID BAER, who holds a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame, is an assistant professor of theology and philosophy at Texas Lutheran University. He lived in Hungary for four years.