In April 1802 Napoléon Bonaparte, first consul, published on the 18th germinal (seventh month) of the year X (organic articles) asserting the existence of Reformed Churches but reducing them to consistorial churches limited to 6,000 worshippers and denying them any regional or national organisation. These churches were funded and controlled by the state.
The 1905 law concerning the division between Church and State was not opposed to church regrouping. A soon as 1906 consistorial reformed churches regrouped in three different units as a result of the division between liberal reformed and orthodox that took place in the 19th century.
The scheme concerned reformed churches only in France, not in Alsace and Moselle regions
Indeed the 1905 law did not apply to the regions which had become German in 1871. And it was not to be applied when they became French again in 1918 and in 1945. Churches there are still under the concordat rule.
It was only in 1938 that a new regrouping of Reformed Churches was decided. After five years’ discussions emerged as follows :
- the Eglise réformée de France or ERF (French Reformed Church) at a meeting held in Lyon
- the Eglise réformées évangéliques indépendantes or EREI ( independent evangelical reformed churches) comprising Churches of the Union and evangelical reformed churches who had not wished to merge with the ERF.
Paul Tillich (1886-1965)
Paul Tillich was born in eastern Prussia in 1886. He was a Lutheran and a bright student in theology and philosophy, and then became a pastor in a working class suburb of Berlin. During WWI he was a chaplain on the French front. After 1919 he taught in different universities. In 1933 the Nazis dismissed him for his political views. He left for the United-States where he settled for good.
Karl Barth (1886-1968)
The theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) was an outstanding protestant personality of the 20th century. His work questioned many a certainty. It also influenced several generations of pastors, especially in France. It triggered intense and fascinating debates as it was circulated all over the world.
Feminist theologies are grounded in the great movement for women’s rights born around 50 years ago in the USA, in order to reassess their place both in society and in the church.
Emerging at the end of the 1960s, in Catholic circles in Latin America, Liberation theologies developed widely. They denounced the oppression of which the poor were victims. These injustices had to be opposed, and a theology formulated which grew out of daily reality.
Process theology was influenced by the English philosopher and mathematician, Alfred Whitehead. It was Professor André Gounelle who made known this theology in France – according to which God is a power for innovation and creativity which transforms the world.
Protestantism in the 19th century
The century began with the 1801 Concordat and 1802 Organic Articles ruling the life of Churches.
Their measures enabled to reorganise the Protestantism after the Desert period. The Protestants were allowed places for worship, for instance they were granted former Catholic Churches, and had a lot of new buildings erected. The clergy was reinstated.
Protestantism in the XXth century
The law of 9th December 1905 separating the Churches from the State guaranteed the freedom of public worship for the Reformed Church and a legal framework. Hardly surprisingly, most Protestants welcomed this law.
It did not concern Alsace and the Moselle, which had become part of the German empire in 1871.
Theology in the 20th century
Theological thought and research in the 20th century can be divided into three periods: up until the late 1920s, from the 1930s to the 1970s, and since the 1970s.