European Believers: Ecumenical Networks and Their Blueprints as Drivers of Early European Integration, 1933-1954

Cornelis Gerrit van den Berg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 2 (Research NOT UU / Graduation UU)


This thesis unravels the threads of the moral fabric of European integration. It looks at important, yet nowadays largely forgotten hubs where European integration originated: Christian ecumenical networks of the 1930s and 1940s, which produced blueprints for the restoration and renewal of social, economic, and political order in Europe. These blueprints, this book argues, contained a specific theological vocabulary of pre-political values, like solidarity, responsibility, and reconciliation. By translating these theological ideas to the political sphere, these networks charged the public debate on the future of Europe with a distinctly normative and influential framework: no longer was European cooperation a political or economic ideal, but a moral measure as well. After a general introduction which connects the histories of European integration and the history of ecumenical Christianity, each chapter in this thesis is devoted to a specific network that produced identifiable blueprints. They are, in chronological order: the Life and Work movement (est. 1925), the Commission for a Just and Durable Peace (est. 1940), the Commission of the Churches for International Affairs (est. 1946), the 1948 Amsterdam Assembly's Section III on the Church and the Disorder of Society, and the Ecumenical Commission on European Cooperation (est. 1950). By tracing the aforementioned values through the blueprints these networks produced, this thesis concludes that the ecumenical movement facilitated processes of cooperation and reconciliation which often foreboded and were mirrored in later political developments in the political and economic integration of Western Europe.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Smit, Peter Ben, Primary supervisor
  • de Graaf, Beatrice, Supervisor
  • Segers, M.L.L., Supervisor
  • Palm, Trineke, Co-supervisor, External person
Award date25 Feb 2022
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-94-6103-092-4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022


  • history of European integration
  • history of Christianity
  • ecumenism
  • history of theology
  • European politics
  • international relations
  • blueprints
  • chain of translation
  • Second World War


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