God, Church, and Country: Berggrav’s Leadership in the Norwegian Resistance

[1] In December 1944 the Norwegian Lutheran bishop Eivind Josef Berggrav (1884-1959) was featured on the cover of Time, becoming one of the few protestant religious figures to have been thus honored.1 In 1942, the New York Times chose him as one of the six religious leaders to be profiled in a series headlined “Churchmen Who Defy Hitler.”2 Commemorated by the ELCA on January 14, Berggrav is celebrated by this church for his leadership in the Norwegian Christian resistance to the Nazi occupation.

[2] I am happy to have this occasion to introduce Berggrav into the discussion of “Lutherans in Public” because few Lutherans in the United States know much about him and he is someone we ought not to forget. Although I would not claim that he is the equal of Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Martin Niemöller, he was a man who withstood grave trials with courage and grace, who led an organized, principled, and surprisingly effective movement of Christian resistance to state tyranny, and who has contributed in a careful, practice-based way to Lutheran thinking about the situation of the Christian in relation to civil and political authorities.

[3] Not all of the relevant materials are available in translation. What I have been able to obtain discloses an impressive story-perhaps a little too impressive. It is clear that the three biographies available in English, all written by people who knew him personally, have a laudatory (and perhaps even a defensive) function; certainly none is particularly careful to explore the criticisms against which they so decisively lean.3 I want, therefore, to acknowledge that there may be more to this story than I presently know. Yet from all that I have read by and about Berggrav, I conclude that it must have been a grace and a privilege to have known him. In 1960, the German bishop Hanns Lilje wrote this of him: “Eivind Berggrav is one of the few truly great figures of recent church history. He was very prudent and very courageous, a Christian with a deep and simple faith and [at] the same time a man of great immediacy who could effortlessly come close to people.”4 It detracts nothing from my estimate of his personal qualities to admit that he was neither a great scholar nor a theologian whose work could be said to alter the trajectory of the Lutheran tradition. As a pastor and bishop, he was energetic, outgoing, wise, and capable, but, apart from his unusually muscular commitment to ecumenism, he does not seem to have been remarkable-or at least not any more remarkable than one would be required to be in order to rise to the office of primate of a national church. Yet in the midst of challenges and situations that most of us can barely imagine, he responded in remarkable ways and provided a practical model of Christian public action that, though it was unique to the situation of Norway at that moment in history, should be cherished in our tradition as a resource and a hope.

[4] In examining Berggrav’s role in the Norwegian church struggle against the German occupying forces and the Quisling collaborationist government, we can give attention to three features of his leadership: (1) Although, as primate of the Norwegian State Church, he enjoyed the power of office, he brought to that office gifts of character and personality that are emphasized by all those who recount his achievements. (2) His ecclesiology, which accented (without any perception of paradox) both confessional foundations and ecumenical cooperation, positioned him well for the challenge that he confronted. And (3) his action was, throughout, theologically grounded in and justified by a Christian political ethics developed from Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms.

1. Charism of Grace: Finding what’s Good
[5] Questions can be legitimately asked as to whether the personal qualities of a person are of any particular relevance to the question of leadership. Personality and temperament are not features of our lives over which we have much control, and since I cannot remake my personality in light of traits that might appear to be more useful than the traits I have, there is not much that is of practical value to me to be learned from trying to analyze the traits of others, apart from whatever value may be found in the observation of the effects of accidental gifts and liabilities. Beyond that, it is not clear to me that such qualities actually have much impact on the course of events. When Berggrav was shuttling between Berlin and London in late 1939 and early 1940 trying, as a churchman from a neutral country, to mediate between hostile powers in the interests of negotiated peace, no amount of optimism or charm or graciousness or bridge-building ability on his part was going to get Goering and Lord Halifax to open a conversation with each other. Still, in more local and proximate settings, there may be habits of mind that alter the course of events, and some of these habits of mind may be of a sort that can be cultivated. Berggrav was, for example, able to bring about and hold together a Christian coalition in Norway. While it could be argued that the distress of the situation was of more moment in causing Christians to set aside their differences than Berggrav’s skills as a mediator, it would not follow that his negotiation skills were of no importance at all in the creation of what came to be called “the Christian front.” And certainly, his personal qualities were of great importance to the unfolding of events during the three years of his solitary confinement.
[6] Narrowly escaping execution (Robertson reports that a warrant for his execution was prepared in early April), Berggrav was held from April 1942 to April 1945 in his own isolated country cottage. Not even his wife and sons were permitted to see him.5 He was guarded night and day by twelve armed police from the criminal division, working in shifts, with three on duty at all times. The commander of the unit lived in the house in the room next to Berggrav’s bedroom, and only this commander was permitted to converse with the prisoner. The contingent of guards was changed at frequent intervals, and the premises were subject to unannounced inspections by commanders of both the criminal police and the Gestapo. Yet Berggrav managed to leave the cottage and make his way into Oslo a number of times (sometimes disguised in a police uniform), and on a few occasions members of the resistance actually entered and met with him in the cottage. Couriers (one of his sons often served in this capacity) both delivered messages and documents to him and carried his manuscripts back to the city. Craftiness and ingenuity would go some way toward explaining this. A number of sources report that, early in his confinement, he heaved a huge log out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night to make the guards think he was attempting to escape. With lights and much yelling and noise, they went crashing about the adjoining woods in search. Returning exhausted, they found him standing at the head of the stairs in high dudgeon, demanding to know why they could not let an old man sleep in peace. One suspects that this was not his only strategem for sowing uncertainty and confusion. Still, the boldness of his departures and the degree of forbidden traffic at the cabin under the noses of his jailers cannot be explained unless we suppose benign indifference or outright complicity on the part of at least some of the often changed contingents of guards. Given the punishment they would have incurred should they have been found to be lax, he must have been able to inspire a rare degree of trust, even in hostile circumstances, and he must have been able to quickly breech organizational barriers in order to connect personally with the men who were his captors. It is significant that when he did escape in 1945 (because he and his supporters feared that he would be shot by occupation authorities as the country was liberated), great pains were taken to make it appear that the guards, who actually cooperated, had been overwhelmed by superior forces.

[7] So what sort of man was he? He was psychologically very astute, and by that I mean that he seems to have been very good at understanding human complexity as well as human aspirations and human weaknesses. His advanced studies in religion focused on the psychology of religion, but the quality of his insights into the springs of human behavior-recalcitrance and motivation, fear and longing, need and desire, sin and graciousness-were richer and deeper than academic study produces. They seem to reflect a profound degree of empathy, a capacity for dwelling in the situation of the other. This clear-eyed, compassionate, but by no means indulgent, appreciation of human character is evident in The Prisoner’s Soul-and Our Own, his 1932 book about the actions and attitudes of convicted criminals, written out of his “experiences and observations” when he was chaplain (1925-1929) at Botsfengslet, the Oslo penitentiary. “[P]risoners,” he wrote, “are just ordinary people. . . I have never come across a single person devoid of goodness, even among the ‘worst,’ not to mention the ordinary prisoners.”6 Yet he also wrote without sentimentality about the prisoners’ lack of repentance, their manipulative and disingenuous “religious varnish” (169), and the degree of denial and “unreality” in their self-understanding. “A man neither can be nor should be saved in spite of himself” (176).

[8] Aware as he was of the mixed character of human motives, he nonetheless chose to look for and accent what was good in persons and in situations, rather than dwelling on what was distorted, faulty, or regrettable. That we are all simultaneously saints and sinners was more than Lutheran dogma for him, but he seems to have consistently conducted himself in ways designed to call upon our potential to be saints. Alex Johnson quotes this passage from one of his letters, written after he had taken on the responsibilities of bishop: “My first objectives is to find something good, partly because I know there is always some good everywhere, and partly because I have to feel kindly toward a group before I can speak any words of admonition to them.”7 He did find goodness wherever he looked, and those discoveries influenced what he did in surprising ways. His youngest son being born while he was a chaplain at Botsfengslet, Berggrav baptized him at a service in the prison, with the prisoners as the congregation who promised to raise up this child in the pathways of the Lord.

[9] Because Berggrav chose to accent good traits and the possibility of achieving good outcomes, he picked his battles with care. Johnson tells the story of a congregation that built a new chapel in its churchyard cemetery even though “the bishop advised and the Department decided that it should be built outside the cemetery.”8 Berggrav discovered this insubordination only when he arrived there on the eve of the dedication at which he was to preside. Confronted with this fait accompli, he decided to say nothing, reasoning that reprimands are valuable only when they can prevent misfortune or bring about change or produce a will toward reconciliation. Otherwise they simply foster resentment and feed conflict. Nonetheless, when the chair of the building committee registered a mild objection to his rearrangements of certain chapel furnishings in preparation for the ceremony, he did retort “quickly with a smile, ‘Can’t I move a few candlesticks if you can move a whole church?'”9 The combination of humor, restraint, and unapologetic truth-naming in that response seem characteristic of Berggrav’s approach to many situations.

[10] He also had a gift for setting small events, and even misadventures, in the context of larger patterns from which a surplus of meaning flooded back into what otherwise might have appeared quite local and ordinary. Many of the stories told about him illustrate this power. Called upon to dedicate a very small church for a very small congregation within the arctic circle, a church built with great travail on land that was as inhospitable as any on earth, he ceded the primary ritual gestures to the local lay participants who had built the place of worship. He set these gestures into the sweep of God’s history in that place with invitations such as this: “Children of Makkaur, take the baptismal bowl over which all the coming generations of children born in Makkaur should be lifted, and carry it up to the font.”10 Perhaps the most lovely, and in ways the most revealing, of the stories concerns a bride who was nearly humiliated in front of an entire congregation on her wedding day. Because the groom had been ill, it had been arranged that both the bride and groom would be seated for portions of the service during which they normally would have stood. Unfortunately, either the bride or the churchwarden misunderstood when the chairs were to be removed, and the bride sat down on a chair that was no longer there, tumbling backward in a distraught heap, her horror compounded by the superstitions of the local people about bad omens on a wedding day. Her collapse happened behind Berggrav who was facing toward the altar at the time, and when he turned around he delivered what has to be one of the most gracious and ingenious restorations in the history of that church: “When St. Olav stepped ashore on the Norwegian coasts to win this country, he stumbled and fell. ‘There, I lost my foothold!’ he exclaimed. ‘No, sire,’ another replied; ‘this fall will be to the uplifting of Norway.'”11

[11] On the basis of moments like these, biographers praise his “intuition” and his almost uncanny ability to call up, without any preparation, just the right words to honor acts and actors. Johnson notes his “power to strengthen and build up, all his life, in all that he did.”12 Not finding, and not expecting to find, any semblance of perfection in either persons or their projects, he was very much a pragmatist, desiring to bring out of the situation at hand the good that it could yield by the means and people available to do it. This is, I think, what Lilje must have had in mind by speaking of him as “prudent” (since biographers recount a good many incautious and impulsive acts that brought down on him very troublesome consequences). Courageous he certainly was, and Lilje seems right in linking that courage to “a deep and simple faith.” He was tireless in his efforts and seems to have been beyond intimidation. Godal reports that when he was summoned to appear before Quisling on February 27, 1942, Quisling greeted him as a criminal, with the derisive comment, “There is the man who ought to have been shot a hundred times”-to which Berggrav answered, “Here I am.”13

2. Ecclesiology: OneChurch
[12] Had Hitler never invaded Norway, Berggrav’s career would have been a very different one, and he would be known and remembered only in the context of twentieth-century ecumenical movements.14 He knew, worked with, and supported Nathan Söderblom, the Swedish Lutheran archbishop of Uppsala, in his ecumenical leadership, and many looked to Berggrav to maintain the momentum of the movement when Söderblom died in 1931. In 1938 Berggrav was elected vice-president of the World Alliance of Churches for Promoting International Friendship. In 1939 the World Alliance met in London to consider what action might be taken in response to international developments and formed a special executive committee with Berggrav as chair. It was in his double office as the primate of the state church of a neutral country and as a leader of the World Alliance that Berggrav undertook, in September 1939 and in the winter of 1939-1940, his strenuous, though completely futile, effort to facilitate negotiations between Germany and England in the hope of avoiding war.15
[13] His conception of the Christian church as a world-wide communion transcending national frontiers and political differences, together with his energetic activity in the service of that conception, had a number of practical consequences for the way events unfolded during the occupation. First, he enjoyed high visibility as an internationally recognized churchman. He had friends in positions of power in several capitals, including in Berlin. It was probably the intervention of Germans that saved his life, and such intervention might be the reason for the relatively benign nature of his internment as well.16 Moreover, he had the international contacts, and the church network, to make his situation known outside of Norway, and he was consequently prominently featured as an emblem of moral courage by the press in Sweden, England, and the United States. It seems likely that for this reason he would have been more troublesome as a dead martyr than he was alive and isolated. Second, the transnational Christian church constituted the moral community within which he understood himself to be acting. He was able to learn a great deal from the experiences of the Confessing Church in Germany. But perhaps more important was the courage that flowed from the moral support offered by this community. During the period of his imprisonment, when he was more or less immobilized and silenced, the knowledge that he was remembered and held in the prayers of this community was a source of enormous comfort to him. In The Norwegian Church in Its International Context, he records the day that the woman who delivered milk to the cabin managed to slip up to his window to quickly whisper, before she ran, “My husband listened to the radio and heard the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was praying for you, Bishop!” Berggrav reports, “With me remained no longer solitude pure and simple, but a solitude filled with strange and paradoxical communion. I felt how the other Churches and their members bore us up, bore our Church.”17 And third, just as the Church of Norway provided, within Norway, a channel of communication that the occupying forces found very difficult to control, so the international Christian community found ways to convey information across borders that were closed, in forms that were hard to recognize even if they were intercepted: copies of sermons and pastoral letters, references to biblical texts, citations of confessional documents.

[14] Important as all this was, I think there is more to be noticed here than the psychological and strategic benefits of being part of an international network in a time of persecution, strife, and suffering. When the troubles began to unfold, Berggrav already had in place a conception of Christian solidarity and a belief in the importance of Christian action that shaped his response to the crisis and may have been among the most important keys to its success. It is worth recalling that when Söderblom undertook, in the aftermath of World War I, to channel amorphous Christian longings for peace and unity into an actual program of action, he focused on fostering joint action (initially among Lutherans and Anglicans) in the mission field and on achieving intercommunion (again, initially among Lutherans and Anglicans). He did not focus on achieving doctrinal agreement, and neither did Berggrav. Both men have been criticized for this, but it is an approach that has much to recommend it. In Berggrav’s hands it became a powerful argument for Christian theological and liturgical diversity within a potentially world-wide network of cooperation in working against forces of destruction toward the fuller realization of human goods. Unity, he repeatedly insisted, does not require uniformity.

[15] There seems to be a consensus that one of the most important things that Berggrav did was to bind the entire Christian community in Norway together into a single powerful voice of opposition to Nazi operations. The other thing that simply leaps out of this historical saga-and it seems to be something of which Berggrav himself was perfectly aware-is the degree to which the effectiveness of resistance rested on uniform coordinated action by large numbers of similarly situated people. It is worth saying a word about each of these in turn.

[16] The creation of the Kristent Samrad or Christian Joint Council in Norway in October 1940, shortly after the proclamation purporting to dethrone the king and following quick upon the first attempts by the civil authorities to interfere with the practices of the state church, was brought about by Berggrav and was widely regarded as hardly short of a miracle. Although the Church of Norway was far and away the largest Lutheran body in the country, many of the most active and most passionate Norwegian Lutherans belonged to smaller, more pietistic bodies run primarily by lay people. Berggrav somehow managed to overcome the “deep tensions,” structural opposition, and theological and ecclesiological mistrust between the two wings of Norwegian Lutheranism in order to forge a common program of action and a singular (and singularly powerful) voice. The Church of Norway provided a kind of power base (as well as a legal and constitutional basis) for condemnation of actions by the authorities, and the representatives of the more irregular movements provided strategic insights about non-bureaucratic forms of organization, lay empowerment, and parish mobilization. Once these antagonistic sectors of the church made common cause, other more peripheral sects and movements also joined the joint council, and by the middle of 1942, the small community of Roman Catholics also made public its support for Christian resistance to Quisling edicts and Norwegian Nazification. This unity and self-organization was important not only in the first two years while the church struggled to retain its autonomy and defend the Norwegian people against the abuses of the régime but also in the period after April 1942 when the state church had broken its ties to the government, and its leadership as well as its individual congregations had to quickly organize themselves to operate independently and without state support.

[17] Torleiv Austad notes that it was from observing the German Kirchenkampf that Berggrav learned the importance of presenting a united front so that the authorities could neither foster nor exploit division and so that Christians were never working at cross purposes in their programs of action.18 Berggrav also had in mind the edifying example of the Norwegian Supreme Court which resigned en masse in December 1940 to protest the unconstitutional actions of the occupying powers which violated rather than respected the existing Norwegian legal system. Under Berggrav’s leadership, when the bishops spoke or acted, they spoke or acted as one. Pastoral letters were read on the same day in all pulpits. On Easter Sunday 1942 the overwhelming majority of the pastors resigned simultaneously, all of them giving the same reasons for their actions. The vast majority then again responded alike to the ultimatum issued by the Quisling government, leaving the authorities the choice of backing down or arresting and imprisoning virtually the whole Norwegian church. Congregations, too, united in refusing to attend the services of any pastors other than their own, and most found ways to shelter and support their pastors once the clergy’s salaries stopped and they were turned out of their homes. This is not to say that no churchmen aligned themselves with the governing authorities, only that the number was so small that it was impossible for the authorities to pretend that they had the support of the Christian community. Solidarity in action produced for the church a degree of power that it would not otherwise have commanded-and it was power that the civil authorities could not take away. The institutional unity with which various sectors of Norwegian society resisted (teachers followed the same communal pattern in objecting en masse to the Nazification of the curriculum) is one of the distinctive features of the Norwegian resistance and seems to me to be one of the reasons for its relative success.

[18] A further lesson that we might take from this story is the importance of social institutions (the institutional church, the court system, the association of teachers) as powerful social forces standing between the individual and the coercive power of the state. It was one thing for individual Christians to refuse to submit to an order; it was quite another thing for the institutional church to refuse to submit. These non-state institutions were both a shield of protection for vulnerable individuals who, separately, were comparatively helpless in the face of armed force and also a means of empowerment as individuals acting together in the power of their social offices had a moral authority that the isolated individual could not easily claim and defend.

3. Theological Foundations: “The Duty of Disobedience”
[19] According to Austad, Berggrav’s interpretation of the doctrine of two kingdoms represented a distinctive and significant contribution to Lutheran thinking about the relations of the Christian community and the civil and political authorities. “Bishop Berggrav’s theological interest before, and especially during World War II, was political ethics. What the busy, threatened bishop in those days contributed to the understanding of social justice and the just/unjust state is remarkable. He developed a theology of resistance for the church in its struggle with a totalitarian state.”19 Johnson, too, represents Berggrav’s theological argument as a significant and controversial innovation. He reports that Berggrav’s paper at the Lutheran World Convention in Hanover in 1952 provoked “a great argument” throughout “the whole German Church,” and he observes that at the time he was writing the biography (1959), “good German Lutherans are still trying to repudiate Berggrav’s ideas.”20 On the other hand, Berggrav is not mentioned as a contributor to Lutheran thinking about church and state in either the recent Church and State: Lutheran Perspectives or the somewhat older The Promise of Lutheran Ethics, so it may be that the ideas he advanced, though subject to dispute, were neither new nor distinctive. It seems to me that Berggrav’s interpretation of Luther’s views accords very nearly with the representation of Luther’s position set out by Gary Simpson in the middle sections of “Toward a Lutheran ‘Delight in the Law of the Lord.'”21
[20] In a “Foreword” that he contributed to the 1947 collection Luther Speaks, Berggrav asserts that Luther “has been my greatest source of renewal both in my secular and theological thinking. In the fight against Nazism he was a magnificent weapon-arsenal for our church.”22 He has harsh words for those, like writer Peter Wiener, who implicated Luther’s theology in the rise of the Third Reich.23 He seems prepared to grant that there may have been, in recent German Lutheranism, a tendency toward excessive servility where the state was concerned, but if so, Berggrav suggests, Luther himself provides-explicitly provides-the antidote. In this foreword, Berggrav refers to and reaffirms an argument that he had worked out in the early stages of the occupation. In 1941, even though church meetings outside of worship services were considered illegal, Berggrav traveled about the country talking with clergy about “the duty of disobedience.” The text from which he spoke is reproduced as a supplement in Man and State under the title “When the Driver Is Out of His Mind.” It is a talk in which he relies heavily on Luther’s sermons on John 16 (1528) and John 19 (1529).24

[21] Berggrav begins with a forceful assertion that “for Luther as for us there is only one [kingdom], and that is God’s kingdom.”25 Just as Luther holds that there is only one kingdom, Luther holds that there is only one Lord and only one kind of obedience. “We are under God alone, whoever it may be that otherwise represents him” (WtD, 301); to countenance any contrary view is to sin against the first commandment. Luther’s only duality is the duality of God and Satan, and it is this battle and only this battle that produces “the double thread that runs through world history” (WtD, 301). Berggrav points out that Luther does not consider any sphere of life to be free of or neutral in this cosmic drama-neither the state (worldly law) nor the church (spiritual law) (WtD, 302, 305).26 It therefore follows, in Berggrav’s view, that if Lutherans were to teach that the individual owes unconditional obedience to the state, they would be incoherently teaching that the individual should serve Satan on those occasions when Satan achieves power in political affairs. The primary mistake of thinking that one must serve the state without asking any questions as to which power is at work in current worldly law is, Berggrav observes, hardly worse than the second mistake of thinking that Luther taught that we ought only to resist worldly law when it directly contravenes an explicit command found in Scripture-if it were, for example, to demand that we worship some person or symbol. This way of thinking, Berggrav suggests, elevates worldly obedience above obedience to God: “God’s law is to be regarded as a footnote in the law codex of the world-something that deals with the exceptions to the rule!” (WtD, 301-302).

[22] So how are we to make sense of all those passages in Luther’s work in which he talks about two kingdoms? The two orders, both instituted by God, correspond to God as creator and God as savior. Both are inseparably “united in the common task” of “promoting love,” which can only be done if the godly are prepared “[t]o oppose Satan and his rule in every form and manner, to ward off the attacks of evil, to beat down violence and unrighteousness” (WtD, 303). Their means and their domains differ, but not their intention. Charged with representing and preserving the order of creation, the “worldly kingdom,” unlike the spiritual kingdom, may use coercive force, but always only with the understanding that “[t]he function of order in the unregenerate area is to help the work of redeeming souls” (WtD, 302). Although the kingdoms are independent arms of the work of God, worldly power has a God-given mandate to protect the social space in which the spiritual powers may effectively function: civil authority is charged not only “to protect law” but to protect “spiritual freedom” as well (WtD, 303). Civil authority has a positive, upbuilding responsibility as well as a controlling and coercive role. Even considered solely in its own proper domain, civil authority is not an unleashed, arbitrary, and autonomous power. While it is true that we are social creatures in a social world, such that relations among people must be “regulated” through humanly developed laws “supported by governmental authority,” it is also true that the conditions for human social thriving are unalterably fixed by God.27 Therefore, the state itself is subject to the will of God, a situation that is not altered by the vote of the majority, democratic social arrangements, or totalitarian control. “Both the command of God, as well as consideration for its subjects, place iron fences around what the civil power has the right to do” (WtD, 304, my italics). It is the will of God that the state should concern itself with justice, social order, and social peace. In “Religion and Law,” Berggrav introduces the “dignity of man” (R&L, 291, 293) as the proper concern of the state. Thus, “[t]he state is subject to God-given human rights and to details dictated by conscience” (WtD, 304). Although the two kingdoms share a common task and a common obedience, the boundary between the two is nonetheless sharp and not to be transgressed since God ordained the two kingdoms precisely in order that the clarity of the boundaries would keep both domains from falling too easily under Satan’s domination. Worldly powers, however, have no authority to address religious concerns or prescribe religious practices. “No state has the right to interfere forcibly in the province of the soul. If it does, it become corrupt” (WtD, 304). Worldly powers are strictly limited to “the outward conduct of men” (WtD, 303).

[23] Turning his attention to the nature of law, Beggrav asserts that it cannot “arbitrarily be made or remade by man” (R&L, 291). Law, considered abstractly, is not mere custom but is somehow transcendent and absolute: it is “the transcendent before which we bow and which is the eternal source of the sense of justice” (R&L, 291). He observes, however, that historical figures and political arrangements have frequently supposed otherwise. The secularization of the law, from the Romans forward, has, he admits, done much to reduce law to “an arrangement which could be altered according to circumstances” (R&L, 291). No longer considered absolute and independent of social requirements, the law becomes a tool wielded by power, rather than serving as the standard by which power can be judged. In its more extreme development, this reductive (in Berggrav’s view) conception of the law yields the view that “law is only an expression of power by the state” (R&L, 292). That many see the law this way does not alter the actual transcendent character of what he seems to consider a law beyond all positive laws-something to which persons still experience “a sense of obligation from which no one can release himself, an obligation to something transcendent which both binds and sets free” (R&L, 294).

[24] Berggrav identifies the demonic with “the lust for power in all its forms and patterns, power for power’s sake without any ethical norms, the will to power beyond the limits set by the will of God, power without law” (WtD, 305). And he seems to describe three different ways in which a state can violate its proper function, thus becoming a force to be condemned and resisted rather than obeyed.

[25] First, the power state transgresses the boundary between the two kingdoms by trying to establish a spiritual sovereignty as well as a civil one. The totalitarian state is precisely one that “considers itself a philosophy of life and insists on forcing this view on others” (WtD, 305); such a state not only invades domains of human experience where it has no office, but it manifestly “claims for itself the glory which belongs to the holy and puts itself in God’s place” (WtD, 305-306). When this happens, no distinction between the goodness of the civil office and the corruption of the occupant of this office can legitimately be used to justify obedience, for it is the civil structure itself that has been corrupted and placed in opposition to God’s redeeming work. Luther himself called such situations tyranny and specifically argued that Christians have a “duty to be disobedient” (WtD, 307) to such a state.

[26] Second, the state even in is own domain may cease to operate lawfully. Berggrav’s “Religion and Law” is built around the conviction that there is a discernible transcendent and absolute law that is the true and proper object of human obedience-something before which persons feel a compelling requirement to “prostrate ourselves” (R&L, 288). This law represents or perhaps comprises “values higher than those we can handle as we please” (R&L, 293), and it is the correlate of the human sense of and hunger for justice. This “holy” and “inviolate” law stands “over against force”; indeed, force “is the archenemy of law,” when law is considered in this sense (R&L, 293). Law, in this sense, is that to which both the church and the state must “submit”; it is a reality that both must secure and uphold. Positing the reality of such a transcendent law, Berggrav is able to open up space for regarding some human laws as legitimate and commanding laws, while describing other human laws as merely “seeming formulation of law” (R&L, 298) to which no Christian can be rightfully bound. There is no duty to submit quietly and cooperatively to a civil order that promulgates unjust statutes or decrees actions that violate human dignity or contribute to disordering God’s proper order. A Christian has no moral or religious obligation to bow to exercises of simple power. Indeed, it is the religious responsibility of the spiritual kingdom, which also answers to the absolute law, to interfere with and admonish the civil authorities when their very laws become lawless. In losing touch with the transcendent absolute, a government ceases to be a “legitimately established state” (R&L, 298).

[27] Finally, as that last sentence makes clear, Berggrav holds that the church and the individual Christian alike owe obedience only to civil authorities that have been rightly installed. Though this expectation is embedded in “Religion and Law,” it is more explicitly stated in The Norwegian Church in Its International Setting, where Berggrav invokes Article 16 of “our Lutheran confession.” If it is to make any claim to the cooperation of its Christian citizens, a state must not only exercise its authority justly but also obtain its authority justly. For this reason Berggrav insists that in 1940 in Norway it was not possible to differentiate between the obligations of a Christian and the obligations of Norwegian nationalism. An occupying power always comes by its civil authority illegitimately-by sheer force of arms. International law provides for interim measures in the occupied territory by which the subjugated people and the subjugating power may operate until the time when the negotiations that end the war establish a recognized, legitimate government. Berggrav writes, “In December, 1940, all the members of the Supreme Court of Norway laid down their office. This was a protest against the patent violation of international law and the rights of Norway.”28 In other words, by that point Berggrav, along with many other Norwegians, had decided that the German authorities had far exceeded the legitimate degree of authority accorded them by the Hague Conventions, and that they were accomplishing this by the simple exercise of coercive force. For this reason, quite apart from the substance of their decrees, they had no claim on the obedience of any Christian.

[28] Berggrav insists, though, that Luther placed two crucial limits on the nature of Christian disobedience to the state. The first of these is that it should be institutional disobedience, not individual lawlessness; it is the church that has a proper “office” for opposing the state, so the church itself must resist, and individual resistence must be embedded in and answerable to the resistance of the Christian community. Political evil does not justify placing “private judgment” above the judgment of the community (WtD, 307). “Personal self-exaltation,” he notes, “tempts conscience into all the bypaths of power” (WtD, 307). However, the church, as the “properly instituted authority in spiritual matters” (WtD, 314), has exhortation and rebuke as features of its office, and these responsibilities are not to be construed solely in terms of individuals. Berggrav resists the suggestion that the division of methods and domains can be interpreted to mean that the church’s function is restricted to “edification” and devotion-that its only “task” is “to preach the gospel and to save souls” (WtD, 312). If the claims of civil authority are to be assessed in terms of its fidelity to the law of God as creator, then the church must be the organ of the temporal world that “hold[s] up God’s law to the powers that be” (WtD, 312). Moreover, it has a responsibility to do this whether or not its own interests and its own practices are being threatened or assaulted. Quoting Luther’s observation, recorded in Table Talk, that “The church’s front line is wherever there are those who suffer unjustly,” Berggrav goes on to affirm that “[t]he church would be a traitor to Christ if it kept silent when the rights of others were being trampled on as long as its own freedom was not endangered” (WtD, 312). Judgment and rebuke are part of the work of Christ the savior, and the preaching of the Word is more than reading texts from Scripture. Berggrav takes Luther as his authority in insisting that “God’s Word” is the living witness of the church as the Holy Spirit informs it in the current situation. It is not that this or that “spiritual person” is called to judge civil offices or the people who occupy them; rather, what is required is that “one of God’s offices . . . speak to the other of God’s offices” (WtD, 313). Such action is not blameworthy interference in a forbidden domain but rather is service to the one Lord to whom all creatures are bound in one obedience.

[29] The second limitation is that the methods of the church must be non-violent methods of resistance that are appropriate to the kingdom of the right hand and expressive of “Christ’s Spirit” (WtD, 308): “If the church takes to worldly means, then it goes over to the camp of the enemy. The church’s domain and existence is the Word, God’s Word, the word of conscience” (WtD, 307). Words are deeds, and such counsel was not a counsel to be hesitant, yielding, or half-hearted in one’s opposition. “Words are action, contribution, courage, the willingness to take consequences, and finally the willingness to suffer” (WtD, 307). Being willing to endure suffering seems to have a triple function in Berggrav’s reasoning. First, since resistance, whether violent or nonviolent, will inevitably produce consequences, the one who resists must be fully prepared to accept those consequences. It is no good thinking that nonviolent resistance to power is a “safe” alternative. Second, the willingness to suffer is a way of knowing that one is disobeying for the right reasons. In other words, it helps to differentiate between egoistic grasping after power and humble service of God: “Not only is conscience to be bound by God’s Word and tested by the faith of the church, but it must also be willing to suffer injustice” (WtD, 307). Third, suffering itself is, according to Berggrav, as much a Christian “weapon” against evil as the Word. It is very important, then, to appreciate the fact that Berggrav reads Luther’s claim that Christians ought not to resist even unjust and evil authorities not as a blanket claim that such authorities ought not to be opposed at all, but as the more narrowly specified claim that they ought not to be opposed with their own tools or weapons. Christians should not obey them, and their (very probably violent) reaction to that disobedience should be suffered instead of being met with retaliating force. Berggrav appeals to Luther’s counsel, in “Secular Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed,” that when temporal authorities demand what they have no right to demand, “We are to suffer them to ransack our homes and use violence but we are not to consent to, nor support, nor follow, nor obey them with a lift of a finger or a step of the foot” (quoted, WtD, 311; Luther’s Works, vol. 45, p. 111).

[30] There is, however, a rather contorted passage that it is worth noticing as a kind of footnote to the arguments that I have just outlined. Having ruled out individual flouting of civil authority and having denied the legitimacy of armed insurrection by civilians casting themselves as guerilla fighters, he seems to readmit exactly these possibilities through a back door:

[31] Nothing becomes absolutely clear in this world. There is no such thing as a guidebook showing every possible situation in detail. Luther discovered this as new situations of violence arose. He soon discerned that traitors and rebels would have a free hand to do as they pleased if the citizens of a land had to submit to the law of the church: do not resist violence. In such a situation a Christian citizen was not different from any other citizen. He could not raise a weapon of defense against the rioter in the name of Christ, not even in the name of the church. At this point the Christian citizen is no higher than the second table. He exists in that situation not as a child of God but as one who is subject to civil authority. He must act in the name of the law. His responsibility is to the law. This is exactly what Luther maintained at the time of the formation of the Schmalkald League. Just as a man is under no obligation to the murderer whom he meets on a highway so the princes (and this includes citizens, also the Christian citizen) are released from their duty of obedience when it is obvious that the emperor uses means of violence. In such a situation weapons must be used in the name of the law [WtD, 315-16].

[32] If I am reading this correctly, Berggrav here allows that, in sufficiently dire situations, individual Christian citizens may legitimately resist a violent state by employing violent means. To say that it remains within the second table of the law (which applies to Christians and non-Christians alike) is to say that Christian citizens ought not to be significantly disadvantaged in comparison to other citizens. Where the state has become so lawless as to become, in effect, a common murderer, then the transcendent and absolute law itself may authorize violent responses on the part of ordinary individuals.

4. Christian action
[33] During the two years from the German invasion April 9, 1940, to Berggrav’s arrest in mid-April 1942, the bishop’s program of church action appears to have conformed remarkably well to the requirements of his interpretation of the relation (and disrelation) of the two kingdoms.
[34] An occupied country is not a country in which civil law is suspended and lawlessness prevails. An occupying power is not precisely an illegitimate authority. An occupied country operates under a complex and volatile mix of existing civil law which someone has to enforce, international law (where enforcement may come rather late in the game), and such new laws as international law permits the occupier to promulgate-or as the occupying power promulgates and enforces in disregard of international law. Consistent with his views concerning the Christian obligation to respect proper civil authority, Berggrav initially led the church in a program of limited cooperation under the Hague Conventions. All accounts of the period seem to agree that at the beginning of the occupation, the German administrators pledged themselves to obey the Hague Conventions, affirming that they did not intend to intervene in the activities of the church or the religious practices of the Norwegians-so long as the churches themselves remained apolitical. For his part, Berggrav was prepared to lend the church’s support to and to involve himself personally in the formation of an interim civil administrative council to support the occupying army in the governance of the country under Norwegian law and in the preservation of justice in the occupied territory.29 It was only when he became convinced that the occupying authorities were speaking and conducting themselves in bad faith (which he felt to be plainly the case by the summer of 1940) that he refused any further cooperation.

[35] Not surprisingly, the conquerors and the conquered differed in their interpretation of what it meant for the church to remain apolitical. The dissemination of information provides just one example of the way in which the very existence of a relatively autonomous church (quite apart from its moral stance and teachings) represented a threat to the occupying forces. The Nazi authorities immediately undertook to control all communication within the occupied territory. The press, the radio programs, and letters sent by post were either controlled or censored. The circulation of messages among clergy was one of the few means for delivering to the people news that the Germans did not want them to have. In this context, the pastoral letters read to congregations took on a special communicative and truth-telling significance. The church therefore constituted a medium of communication in which the authorities were bound to try to interfere. As moral and religious objections to what was taking place became a more and more prominent feature of these ecclesial communications, the interference became more punitive and the situation more volatile. The predictable ensuing struggle of the Norwegian Church with the occupying powers and with the Quisling government can be traced along the two trajectories of being “true to . . . its own confession of faith” and “true to the constitution of its country.”30

Resisting Civil Interference in Matters of Faith and Conscience
[36] The notion of an apolitical church rests, of course, on a conception of religion as private and spiritual. Even this dimension of the church can be hard for a totalitarian government to tolerate, and it was not long before the authorities began to interfere in strictly ecclesial and spiritual matters. Once the king, who was safe in England, had refused to abdicate and the Storting (parliament) had refused to depose him, the churches were forbidden to include the king in their prayers. This did not provoke widespread public protest, partly because the pastors simply left a long silence in the prayers where everyone knew the king’s name should be. The formal protests began when, in December 1940, the Ministry of Police issued an order revoking the clergy’s right of silence with respect to things told to them in confidence by their parishioners. This was an edict that the church could not tolerate while remaining the church. In April of 1941, the government issued instructions to the churches on matters of church order, instructions that were immediately protested and defied. That summer, the church refused to become a propaganda arm of the Germans as they invaded Russia. This refusal to cooperate met with a retaliatory removal of two bishops from office.
[37] On February 1, 1942, the Germans decided to recognize Vidkun Quisling as the Minister President of Norway-Norway’s indigenous and lawful governing authority. Quisling, on the day of his inauguration, declared himself to be the supreme bishop of the church and denounced Berggrav. From this time on, apparently with the German Christian churches in mind as a pattern, the government sought the removal and replacement of all uncooperative clergy in what turned out to be a massively unsuccessful effort to bring the church to heel.

Holding Civil Authority Accountable as Civil Authority
[38] In conformity with Berggrav’s understanding of the responsibility of the church to the law of God, the resistance of the church to the government was not confined to resisting interference in its own affairs. Looking back after the war, Berggrav wrote, “It was clear that the Church could not join battle-more precisely that it would not be able to muster all its forces, rank and file, in an effectual combat on Christian ground, unless essential Christianity were in evident danger. Within the Church there was also fear lest we should be involved in a political struggle. What made the situation clear was a quite unexpected issue: Justice.”31 As Waddams points out, Berggrav’s actions were framed to some considerable extent by his reading of the Hague Conventions concerning the conduct of conquerors in occupied territory. His early efforts at cooperation were inspired by his own sense of what the Hague Conventions required of both the civilian inhabitants of the occupied territory and the conquerors who at least temporarily held the land. Civilians were to leave armed engagements to whatever remnants of the military might still be functioning. The occupiers were to keep civil order, to enable ordinary citizens to conduct their business, to respect Norwegian civil law and property arrangements, and to respect the religious beliefs and practices of the conquered people. To the extent that the Germans violated the Hague Conventions, they were behaving lawlessly and were violating human rights-and their actions and policies were patently unjust. The church, Berggrav believed, was not permitted to stand idly by when the governing authorities defied the regnant and binding law or violated the rights of persons.
[39] Article 43 specified that the occupying power “shall take all steps in his power to re-establish and insure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.” Yet in November 1940, the Reichskommissar’s Minister of Justice declared that his office had the sole authority to appoint and dismiss juries and court officers and arrogated to himself the authority to dismiss sitting judges. As a result, in mid December, the entire Supreme Court of Norway resigned.

[40] Tension and disorder remained high through the following year, but there was not yet organized institutional resistance. On February 5, 1942, Norway’s N.S. Party, under the leadership of the newly installed Minister President Quisling, launched a youth services organization that proposed to conduct compulsory training in Nazism for all children ten and older. Article 46 of the Hague Convention specifies that “family honours and rights, individual lives and private property, as well as religious convictions and liberty, must be respected.” On February 14, the bishops issued a letter protesting compulsory programs for the youth and asserting the rights of parents to maintain control of the upbringing of their children. On February 20, somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 teachers went on strike, and in late February the government began arresting the teachers.

[41] On February 24, Berggrav and the other bishops of the Church of Norway resigned their titles and positions, but not their religious calling. The government tried to spin this event as a dismissal of the bishops on the grounds of prohibited “political activity” (New York Times, Feb. 28, 1942). On March 1, an announcement of the resignation (not dismissal) of the bishops was read in all pulpits. The pastors wrote to the government Ministry of Church and Education to declare their loyalty to their bishops, who were now operating apart from state authority. By the end of March, 1,300 teachers were in prison, and Berggrav was being treated as a criminal while a government-sponsored campaign to discredit him was unfolding in the press and on the radio. He was placed under house arrest and forbidden to preach.

[42] On Easter Sunday, April 5, the resistance of the church to state interference with matters of spirit and conscience and the church’s condemnation of the political violence and injustice of the régime arrived at a final crisis. With all of their bishops under house arrest and facing uncertain futures, all but 64 of the church’s 861 pastors32 read from the pulpit a document titled “The Foundation of the Church” which had been prepared primarily by Berggrav. Comprising six articles, with echoes of the Barmen Declaration, the document declared that the requirements of religious faith now made it impossible for Christians to cooperate with many of the laws and policies of the civil authorities. Having read the document, the pastors announced that they, too, were severing their relationship to the state by resigning their state commissions (which meant giving up their salaries and their residences), though they had no intention of surrendering their apostolic callings. This action was described as a temporary break with a currently unjust governing authority; it was not described as the creation of a free church. During the following week, their resignations were submitted to the Minister for Church Affairs in a declaration with this conclusion: “We ordained men in the parish of – subscribe with free conviction to the foregoing Confession on the Foundations of the church, and, in so far as we hold office in the State Church, declare that we herewith, for reasons of conscience, lay down our offices, but intend to continue to perform all the duties and services to our flock which can be performed by a non-official person, in keeping with Holy Writ, the Church’s Confession, and the Service Book of the Norwegian Church.”33 The Quisling government declared these resignations illegal and issued an ultimatum to the pastors, threatening them with severe penalties, including imprisonment and internment. These threats failed to have the desired effect. In A History of Lutheranism, Eric Gritsch summarizes the situation this way: “The puppet government was faced with the choice of either enforcing its law, which would result in a bloodbath in Norway, or leaving the church alone. It chose to leave the church alone, especially because all the bishops had resigned, as had a vast majority of pastors who were supported by their congregations. Only about sixty of the thousand pastors remained in office under the puppet government.”34

5. Raising some questions
[43] After spending five months gathering and reading materials about Berggrav that are solidly founded on the conviction that the Norwegian resistance movement was a noble and principled effort to resist tyranny, it came as something of a shock to me to pick up Ralph Hewins’ 1966 biography of Quisling, which offers a completely different interpretation of the same events. It provided the first really clear window on the reading of events that Berggrav’s biographers are so determined to refute, and as I said at the beginning, I am not at the moment in any position to sort out this controversy. It does serve as a vivid reminder of the strange opacity of the past and of the selectivity and vulnerability of all our accounts of it. Our memories are always memories with a purpose, so that any act of remembering is also a confession of conviction and an enterprise of social construction-and we must be as watchful of that tendency in ourselves as in others. Yet the same opacity that creates intellectual space for multiple subsequent interpretations also establishes implacable boundaries to the free play of subsequent imaginations; at the same time that the historical record is not self-interpreting, it constitutes a deposit of known information that can sustain only a limited range of readings.
[44] It may be that Hewins’ effort to rehabilitate Quisling as “a prophet without honour” and to discredit the resistance as a misguided and extremely costly result of a prior failure of those in leadership positions (including Berggrav) to retain control of their country when they had the opportunity to do so-it may be that this is an instance of unsustainable revisionism, but there is something haunting about Hewins’ argument:

[45] The legality of the Supreme Court’s decision to set up an administration is highly questionable, despite the ponderous special-pleading that goes on indefinitely. The plain fact is that the Supreme Court acted on April 15, 1940, as illegally or otherwise as had Vidkun Quisling on April 9, 1940, no more and no less. Both pleaded ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and an ’emergency.’ The important difference between the Supreme Court and Quisling was that the former eventually backed the ultimate winners of the Second World War, whereas Quisling backed the losers.35

[46] What is troublesome about it is that it opens the question of the degree to which law and morality, right and conscience, are the social constructions of particular communities in particular places and times. Berggrav’s conception of a law, grounded in creation, that stands above all positive laws seems to provide a firm, critical perspective for the review of socially generated laws, but it is, of course, precisely this feature of Berggrav’s vision that is most deserving of serious scrutiny. One might almost say it is on this very point that the significance of his contribution to Christian political ethics rests, in either its success or its failure. As we have seen, he was utterly convinced that Christians can, if they trouble to do so, grasp a law that transcends all national laws and can be used to measure them. Yet even in his own life, I do not find it easy to sort out what he did as a Norwegian from what he did as a Christian. Henri Michel, in his extremely interesting study of resistance movements all across Europe during World War II, argues that they were all essentially nationalist movements against invaders: “Everywhere . . . the goal was the same-a national rising in which every inhabitant of the country would participate, each in his appointed place.”36

[47] As I have already mentioned, Berggrav takes this up explicitly in The Norwegian Church in Its International Setting and discards the twin notions (1) that some secular factor such as “national consciousness” lay at the heart of the resistance, binding people together in a common cause and overcoming their religious divisions and (2) that religious beliefs served simply to socially justify and mobilize actions driven by other motives:

The opinion has been voiced in Europe that the Norwegian Church entered the lists for national, patriot reasons, using religion as a pretext. That is a misconception. Sure enough, we were deeply concerned about our country; but when the Church staked its whole existence it was in consequence of the call of God and in order to defend His law. I can understand the Englishman who asked me, in June, 1945: “How could you know when it was the nation’s and when it was God’s cause that you were fighting for; how be sure that you were not better patriots than Christians? . . .” The question never occurred in Norway. We were called to battle for the Gospel, to protect Right and Justice. Here God’s cause and the country’s cause were one.37
I have already discussed the logic that grounds Berggrav’s claims here, but I also cannot avoid thinking that if there is a transcendent absolute law above all positive laws, then this kind of identification of God’s cause and Norway’s cause becomes problematic. God’s law and Norway’s (sin-riven) law would never be the same; God’s cause and nationalistic causes would, it seems, always pull apart from one another.

[48] So I end by wondering just how Berggrav understood this transcendent, absolute law-and how Lutherans ought properly to regard and use the notion of natural law (since that is what Berggrav seems to be invoking). Is it a body of content that can be read off the pages of the Bible? Or is it something more akin to synderesis, a formal power, inseparable from our constitution as human beings and prior to all substantive commitments, to make moral judgments and assume responsibility? Or is it somewhere in between: a conception, perhaps, of a set of inflexible human requirements, recognized and honored and framed in particular social forms in the wisdom of Scripture and the history of God’s people, that arise out of our being the sort of creatures that we are, requirements that are nonetheless moderately negotiable over time and capable of being addressed or fulfilled in varied ways in different cultural contexts? Human beings are vulnerable, embodied beings who can only survive and mature under certain conditions; we are social creatures who organize ourselves into cooperative communities which can only be sustained under certain conditions; we are creatures who long for meaning and purpose, who know both guilt and desire. There are unquestionably requirements that must be met if we are to thrive as individuals and as a species, but within that framework history seems to disclose considerable flexibility. The labels “absolutists” and “relativists” seem to be very blunt tools for assessing the diverging currents in contemporary discussions about social policies and governing law. That said, I must admit that the notion of an absolute, transcendent law (however he actually understood it) served Berggrav very well in an extreme situation. The one thing that is clear is that if we are not prepared to embrace it, we must know what we can put in its place.

End Notes

1 Other protestant leaders featured before 1960 include Harry Emerson Fosdick (1925), Henry Sloan Coffin (1926), Martin Neimoller (1940), Reinhold Niebuhr (1948), Henry Knox Sherrill (1951), Otto Dibelius (1953), Henry P. Van Dusen (1954), Billy Graham (1954), Franklin Clark Fry (“The New Lutheran,” 1958), and Paul Tillich (1959).
2 Henry Smith Leiper, Foreign Secretary of the Federal Council of Churches, was the author of this series of six profiles, run on successive days from June 8 to June 13, 1942. the other five were Bishop Clemens August von Galen of Muenster, Germany; Archbishop J. de Jong of Holland; Gavrilo Dozitch, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Yugoslavia; Cardinal van Roey, Archbishop of Mechelen, Belgium; and Karl Barth of Switzerland.
3 Odd Godal, Eivind Berggrav: Leader of the Christian Resistance (London: S.C.M. Press, 1949); Alex Johnson, Eivind Berggrav: God’s Man of Suspense, trans. Kjell Jordheim with Harriet L. Overholt (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Publishing House, 1960); and Edwin Hanton Robertson, Bishop of the Resistance: A Life of Eivind Berggrav, Bishop of Oslo, Norway (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 2000). Of the three, I found Johnson’s to be the most helpful and complete. Robertson indicates that although his book is not a translation of any part of Gunnar Heiene’s 1992 “definitive biography” (currently available only in Norwegian and German), he has relied very heavily on it.
4 Quoted in Torleiv Austad, “Eivind Berggrav and the Church of Norway’s Resistance against Nazism, 1940-1945,” Mid-Stream 26/1 (1987), 52.
5 Initially his oldest son, who had been serving for several years as his secretary was locked up there with him, along with a female housekeeper. His son, however, fell seriously ill and was removed to a hospital, from which he was later released. With his son gone, Berggrav successfully petitioned for the release of the housekeeper and was subsequently left solitary.
6 Eivind Berggrav, The Prisoner’s Soul-And Our Own: Experiences and Observations from a Prison in Oslo, trans. Laura Gravely (London and Toronto: J. M. Dent, 1932), 5, italics in the original.
7 Johnson, 114.
8 Johnson, 112.
9 Johnson, 112.
10 G. K. A. Bell, “Eivind Berggrav,” in Eivind Berggrav, With God in the Darkness, and Other Papers Illustrating the Norwegian Church Conflict, edited by G. K. A. Bell and H. M. Waddams (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1943), 3. Bell gives a more complete account of the service that is too long to quote here.
11 Godal, 30.
12 Johnson, 103.
13 Godal, 19. Johnson, 152, gives the same account of Quisling, but does not report Berggrav’s reply. In a slightly different account, H. M. Waddams reports that it was toward the end of the session that a frustrated Quisling broke out, “You triple traitor, you deserve to be decapitated!” and that Berggrav then responded, “Well, here I am.” See Waddams, H. M., “The Story of the Norwegian Church Conflict (1940-1943)” in With God in the Darkness, 80.
14 For a detailed portrayal of Berggrav’s ecumenical contribution, see Gunnar Heiene, “Ecumenist of Our Time: Eivind Berggrav,” Mid-stream 26.1 (1987): 40-50.
15 In December 1939, Berggrav traveled to London where he spent time with Anglican leaders William Temple, Cosmo Lang, and G. K. A. Bell and, on December 15, met with the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Halifax. In January 1940 he participated in an ecumenical peace conference in the Netherlands and went from there to Berlin (by way of Geneva). In Berlin he met with Herman Göring on January 21. On January 27, he was back in London for a second meeting with Lord Halifax. For a detailed positive account of Berggrav’s interventions, see Johnson, 130-35; for a detailed account that gives more attention to contemporary criticism of his efforts, see Robertson, 87-100.
16 While Berggrav was briefly held in the concentration camp at Bretvedt, Helmut Von Moltke and Dietrich Bonhoeffer traveled to Oslo to try (unsuccessfully) to see him (Robertson, 124). Johnson reports that it was a telegram from Himmler-the text of which read simply, “Why is Berggrav in prison?”-that prevented Quisling from carrying out his plans to execute the troublesome bishop. Sources are less clear about how the nature of his imprisonment was decided or negotiated. On a day in the middle of April 1942, he walked out of a German prison camp to freedom and was immediately placed under arrest by the Quisling police force, who isolated him from all further contacts (or tried to).
17 Eivind Berggrav, The Norwegian Church in Its International Setting (London: S.C.M. Press, 1946), 25-26.
18 Austad, 53.
19 Austad, 52.
20 Johnson, 203.
21 Gary M. Simpson, “Toward a Lutheran ‘Delight in the Law of the Lord’: Church and State in the Context of Civil Society,” in John R. Stumme and Robert W. Tuttle, Church and State: Lutheran Perspectives (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2003), 29-41.
22 Eivind Berggrav, Foreword, in Luther Speaks: Essays for the Fourth Centenary of Martin Luther’s Death (London: Lutterworth Press, 1947), 7.
23 Peter F. Weiner, Martin Luther: Hitler’s Spiritual Ancestor (London and New York: Hutchinson, 1945).
24 The title of this address is sometimes translated “When the Coachman Goes Mad: or Luther on Disobedience towards Civil Authorities.” Austad (57-58) says that the references were suggested to Berggrav by “two theologians,” but does not specify who they were.
25 Eivind Berggrav, “When the Driver Is Out of His Mind: Luther on the Duty of Disobedience,” Man and State, trans. George Aus (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1951), 300, italics in the original. References hereafter will be given in parentheses in the text as WtD with the page number. Italics should be assumed to be in the original unless otherwise noted.
26 Berggrav does not pursue in this essay the ways in which the church can become the instrument of Satan, though he does make the point (305) that God has separated the two “kingdoms” precisely in order to reduce the risk that either will become “demon-possessed.” For another treatment of the vulnerability of the church to sin and idolatry, see H. Richard Niebuhr, Radical Monotheism and Western Religion (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1960), 56-63.
27 Eivind Berggrav, “Religion and Law,” in Man and State, trans. George Aus (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1951), 290. References hereafter will be given parenthetically in the text as R&L with the page number.
28 Berggrav, NorwegianChurch, 10.
29 The situation was made doubly complex because the Norwegians were not only trying to organize themselves, after the flight of their government into exile in London, in relation to the conquerors, but also were engaged in a struggle among themselves for power to determine Norway’s course during the occupation. Quisling and his N.S. party had for some years been peripheral figures on the Norwegian political scene and not unreasonably saw the invasion as their opportunity to secure the political power they had long sought. They were, however, opposed by many major figures in Norwegian society, including Paal Berg and Berggrav.
30 Godal, 18-19.
31 Berggrav, NorwegianChurch, 8.
32 These figures are from Godal, 23. Not all sources agree on the numbers, but these are the figures most often given.
33 Quoted, Godal 23.
34 Eric W. Gritsch, A History of Lutheranism (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2002), 226.
35 Ralph Hewins, Quisling: Prophet without Honour (New York: The John Day Company, 1966), 266.
36 Henri Michel, The Shadow War: European Resistance 1939-1945, trans. Richard Barry (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), 14.
37 Berggrav, Norwegian Church, 9-10.

Diane (D.M.) Yeager

After retiring from teaching ethics and philosophical theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Diane Yeager is now delighting in a totally new phase of learning as a docent at the Smithsonian's  National Museum of Asian Art.