Paper Abstracts


Thomas Albert Howard (Gordon College, Boston):
Religious Nationalism, the Legacy of the Reformation, and the Manifesto of the 93

This opening lecture will provide several points of general historical context for the Manifesto of the 93 (Aufruf der 93) before examining some of the broader currents of religious nationalism that inspired theologians to sign it and to support militarism more generally. The speaker will then make reference to a number of invocations of Martin Luther and the Reformation at the time of the outbreak of the war. He will also draw from some of his own present research on Reformation anniversary jubilees (Reformationsjubiläen), and the jubilee of 1917 in particular, to bolster his claim that religious considerations played a significant role in the nationalist understanding of “Kultur” that helped legitimate the war effort in the eyes of many German theologians and pastors, not least Adolf von Harnack, arguably the most renowned of the signatories of the Manifesto.

Wolfram Kinzig (University of Bonn):
Harnack, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and the First World War

Perhaps the most prominent and influential signatory of the “Aufruf an die Kulturwelt” was the Church historian Adolf von Harnack. Harnack later denied that he had seen the text before publication. Although this may well be true, the paper aims to show that Harnack’s political views at the beginning of the war were entirely congruent with the Manifesto’s position. In addition, as recently discovered letters make clear, his ideas of that period display certain points of contact with the thought of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, member of the Wagner family of Bayreuth and one of the leading representatives of a racist Pan-German ideology.

Mark Chapman (University of Oxford):
Missionaries, Modernism, and German Theology: Anglican Reactions to the Outbreak of War

This paper begins by discussing the ‘Appeal to the Civilised World’ in the context of the discourse on mission and race in the period leading up to the outbreak of war. After an outline of the heated controversies which followed on from the Kikuyu Missionary Conference in East Africa in June 1913 which divided the Church of England as late as August 1914, it goes on to analyse the early responses of theologians and church leaders in the autumn of 1914, particularly as this related to the missionary dimensions of the ‘Address of the German Theologians’ to the Evangelical Christians abroad. Its main focus is on the ways in which anti-Germanism, especially a caricatured Prussian militarism, was used, particularly by Anglo-Catholics, to attack liberal theology. It concludes by suggesting that the First World War virtually put an end to German-inspired English modernism.

Dan Inman (Queen’s College, University of Oxford):
God, War and the Universities: Interpreting early British and German theological propaganda, 1914-15

From von Harnack’s speech-writing for Kaiser Wilhelm II to the ‘Manifesto of the Ninety-Three’, theologians played an important role in justifying the defence of Kultur in the early stages of the war. This paper uses the war-pamphlet collection of William Sanday in the library of The Queen’s College to explore how English – and particularly Oxford – theologians responded to, and publically justified, British involvement in the war. Asserting that Oxford theologians were hesitantly nationalist by comparison with their German colleagues, this paper suggests that this dissimilarity cannot be explained purely by reference to the intellectual – some said, Nietzschean –  arrogance of German theological liberals. Rather, the more cautious relationship of theologians in Britain to political and wider ecclesiastical discourse can, to some degree, be viewed through the lens of significant institutional differences between German and British theological faculties at the outbreak of the war.

Roy MacLeod (University of Sydney):
The Manifesto and the Scientists’ War

The outbreak of war in August 1914 marked a turning point for Europe and the world. But for the European scientific community, with its internationalist traditions, that turning point arguably came later, and with effect, following the publication of the Manifesto. Fifteen prominent German scientists signed, including Paul Ehrlich, Emil Fischer, Ernst Haeckel, Max Planck, Fritz Haber, Wilhelm Ostwald and Wilhelm Röntgen. After months of deepening concern, British scientists found themselves confronting a moral adversary. Verbal retaliation was swift. On 21 October, 150 British scientists signed a statement in The Times, committing themselves to a ‘defensive war waged for liberty and peace’.  Other letters followed from Russian, French and American scientists, prompting angry replies from German universities. By November, the conflict engaged the entire scientific world. This paper will consider the context and impact of the Manifesto on the politics, culture and ethics of science, both at the time and in retrospect, as the ‘scientists went to war.’