Gottesvergessenheit: Wolf Krötke and "godforgotten-ness" in the DDR
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Abstract: Wolf Krötke's effect on Protestantism in the DDR served to re-frame Luther's theology away from its application through German history, thereby confronting the existence of a "God-Forgottenness" that developed during secularization. Krötke addressed the phenomenon within the DDR, drawing a line from Luther to the actions of German Protestants during the Second World War. Krötke's theological language addressing the role of the Protestant Church within the DDR was informed by Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, allowing Krötke to address the then-current secularization initiated by the application of Luther's theology in German culture. As history unfolded, strict adherence and potential misunderstandings of Luther's theology fell short of the needs of East German Protestants. The social and economic conditions left in wake of the "forgetting of God" caused by secularization in tandem with the church’s capitulation to National Socialism opened the door for a further cultural rejection of Christianity and its immediate influence in post-war Germany. Krötke makes a case for the significance of God in his confrontation with the "God-Forgottenness" of East Germany, developing a commentary on the secularism found in German Protestantism. Krötke's theology confronts the existential questions developed in the German mind that historically separated the spiritual and the secular. This is shown to be, not the absence of God, but instead the absence of the relevance of religion. For Krötke, God is very much present, no longer limited to the delineations of previous religious comprehension, now open to various possibilities of personal religious relatability. The social situation within the DDR was a context in which Krötke could establish new theological ideas speaking to a relationship with God, against a systematically secularizing government. No longer an abstraction, Krötke's theology confronts "God-forgottenness" with an immediate disclosure of God's personal relevance.