CLTS professors contribute to a newly released volume of essays on Hermann Sasse.

Hermann Sasse was perhaps the most significant confessional Lutheran theologian and ecumenist of the 20th century. A leading figure in the early history of the Faith and Order movement in the World Council of Churches, he also struggled to maintain the confessional identity of Lutherans against pressure to blend in with the Reformed. When those two confessions formed a de facto union in the Evangelical Church in Germany (1948), Sasse left the Bavarian state church to join the Old Lutherans, and then accepted a call to teach at Immanuel Seminary in Adelaide, Australia. While there he was instrumental in bringing union between the two Lutheran synods that formed the Lutheran Church of Australia (1966). He also maintained a marathon of “Letters to Lutheran Pastors”, encouraging faithfulness among his colleagues back in Germany and elsewhere. Almost all of Sasse’s major writings are now available in English.

The 1995 symposium honouring the work of Hermann Sasse on the 100th anniversary of his birth is a major highlight in this seminary’s history. The essays presented by CLTS faculty and Lutheran theologians from around the world (including Sasse’s colleagues and students) were published by CPH in the volume Hermann Sasse: A Man for Our Times? (A few copies remain available from the seminary bookstore; CPH offers it as an e-book.) LCC President Ed Lehman’s wise and witty address set the tone, concluding in verse:

We have not come to bury Sasse
Nor to praise him.
The evil things he did—who knows ’em?
The good we celebrate in this symposium.

Twenty-five years later our sister seminary in Oberursel, Germany, serving the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK) that embraces the Old Lutherans, has again recognised the theological legacy of Sasse with a volume of essays: Der Theologe Hermann Sasse (1895–1976), or The Theologian Hermann Sasse. The editor, Oberursel Emeritus Professor Dr Werner Klän, was a visiting professor at CLTS in the winter semester 2020. Dr John Stephenson and Dr Thomas Winger (veterans of the ’95 Symposium) contributed essays, together with students and specialists from Germany, Australia, and the USA.

On Friday, 17 July 2020, the publisher, Frau Dr Reinhilde Ruprecht, hosted a celebratory video conference for the book launch, which included more than 30 guests. Each author gave a summary of their essay, questions were discussed, a hymn by Wilhelm Löhe was sung, Sasse family photos were unearthed, and candlelit cupcakes (delivered to the authors around the world) were consumed. The highlight of the event was parting reminiscences by Sasse’s daughter-in-law and grandson.

The bilingual volume is available from Edition Ruprecht.

Contents:

  • Vorwort/Hinführung (Werner Klän)
  • Hermann Sasse als Neutestamentler (Volker Stolle)
  • Volles Gotteswort und volles Menschenwort. Hermann Sasses Beitrag zu einem lutherischen Verständnis der Heiligen Schrift (Simon Volkmar)
  • Sasse as Interpreter of the Lutheran Confessions (Thomas M. Winger)
  • Theologische Gegenwartsdeutung in »Weimarer Republik« und »Drittem Reich« (Christian Neddens)
  • Hermann Sasse im Kirchenkampf des »Dritten Reichs« (Wolfgang Sommer)
  • Kirchenpolitische Erwägungen anlässlich der Berufung Hermann Sasses nach Erlangen (Volker Stolle)
  • Truth and Tyranny. Hermann Sasse’s 1936 Missive to Ludwig Fürbringer (Maurice Schild)
  • Hermann Sasse’s influence on confessional Lutheranism in North America since 1945 (John R. Stephenson)
  • Hermann Sasse’s View of the Office of the Ministry up to World War II (Matthew C. Harrison)
  • The Ecclesiology of Hermann Sasse and the »communio« Ecclesiology of the 2017 Finnish Ecumenical Document »Communion in Growth« (Jacob Corzine)
  • Kirche, kirchliches Dienstamt und Ökumene. Erwägungen im Anschluss an Hermann Sasse (Werner Klän)
  • Sasse on the Sacrament of the Altar. Where Ecclesiology and Eschatology Meet (John T. Pless)
  • Biographische Annäherungen an Hermann Sasse (1895–1976) (Andrea Grünhagen)

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