Fortress Press

Shepherds of the Empire: Germany's Conservative Protestant Leadership 1888-1919

Shepherds of the Empire

Germany's Conservative Protestant Leadership 1888-1919

Mark R. Correll (Author)


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The late nineteenth century was a time of rapid industrialization, mass politicization, and modern philosophy. The resulting political and cultural upheaval confronted the German Protestant church with deep questions of identity.
On the one side sat an educated academic guild whose explorations of history, philology, and emerging social scientific disciplines gave rise to serious questions about the Christian faith and its meaning for today.
On the other sat parish clergy faced with the complexities of daily life and leadership in common communities. For these parish clergy the pressure was great to support and bolster people not only in their life as Christians, but in their life as Germans.
Shepherds of the Empire engages timeless questions of identity and faith through the time-bound work of four key thinkers who attempted, and ultimately failed, to carve a middle way for the German parish clergy in that environment.
The volume focuses on the life and work of Adolf Stoecker (1835–1909), Martin Kähler (1835–1912), Adolf Schlatter (1852–1938), and Christoph Blumhardt (1842–1919).
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451472950
  • eBook ISBN 9781451479867
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 276
  • Publication Date March 1, 2014


"Mark R. Correll has recognized something that has eluded many historians—that theological ideas represent an untapped avenue of entry to the broader study of culture. Correll focuses his attention on a very central concern to Germans of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the debated meaning of the ‘word of God.’ How to understand the Wort Gottes was more than an esoteric struggle between conservatives and liberal theologians—it was a dispute over German moral authority and identity in Bismarck’s new empire."
—Frederick Gregory
University of Florida

"Books about German theology from 1888 to 1919 are usually about the legacy of the Ritschlian School. In this splendidly conceived, researched, and written book, Mark R. Correll helpfully reminds us that there was a formidable and interesting, though sometimes grievously flawed, conservative Protestant establishment during the heyday of Ritschl, Harnack, and Troeltsch.”
Gary Dorrien
Union Theological Seminary

"The protagonists of Mark R. Correll’s insightful book deserve to be better known in the English-speaking world. Adolf Stoecker, Martin Kähler, Adolf Schlatter, and Christoph Blumhardt made up a loose, but significant, coalition of ‘Bible theologians’ who walked a tightrope between secularizing forces in the German academy and the pastoral demands of their Lutheran parishes. Correll is convincing both for why these pastors, theologians, and public intellectuals deserve to be valued more highly and for why the First World War did so much damage to their efforts. In a word, it is a fine book on an important subject."
Mark A. Noll
University of Notre Dame
"The leaders of conservative Protestantism in Germany under the Kaiser tried to carve out a theology of the word of God suitable for believing Christians, but failed to transmit it to ordinary clergy. Mark R. Correll provides for the first time a clear and full account of this phase of conservative Christian history in the heartland of theological liberalism."
David W. Bebbington
University of Stirling
"Mark Correll’s Shepherds of the Empire is a well-researched and engaging historical inquiry, bringing to light facets of the German imperial past that have not received sufficient attention. Both historians and theologians, and anyone interested in the complex, fascinating relationship between religion and politics, will benefit from this important study."
Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard
Gordon College 

“Politics, theology, government and church—all on collision courses. What should Christians do? Historian Mark R. Correll tells us the way it was in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century and teaches us lessons for the beginning of the twenty-first century. What’s the church to do when new theologies and changing politics threaten the future of the church? Look back to Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century and learn lessons for America in the twenty-first century. Mark Correll writes about German politics and theology with the skill of a historian and the sensitivity of a Bible teacher. As he tells about the challenges of more than a century ago, you can’t help but think about similar challenges today.”
Leith Anderson, President
National Association of Evangelicals