Full Text for Congratulations For A Septuagenerian (Text)

- -. - . - -- Vol. XXIX Surnmer, 1965 KO. 2 -- TIIE SPRINC;FIELI)ER is published quarterly by the faculty of Con- cordia Theological Seminar!, Springfield, Illinois, of the Lutheran Church-hlissouri Synod. .... -- ... - EDITORIAL COAI&IITTEE ERICH H. HEINTZEN, Editor Raunroluu F. SURBUHG, Book R e v h a Editor EUGENE F. KLUG, Associate Editor ~ I A R K J. STEEGE, Associnte Editor PRESIDENT J. 11. 0. PREUS, ex oficio Contents Page EDITOI1IAL: Detroit Post Scripts 1 I'ROFESSOR D. I-IERMANN SASS]?: CONGRATULA- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TIONS FOR A SEPTUAGENEEIAN. 2 Heino 0. Kadai, Professor, Department of Historical Theology PROELEMS IN ESCHATOLOGY: THE NrlTUI3E OF DEATH AND THE INTERMEDIATE STATE.. . . . . . . . 8 Howard \V. Tepker, Professor, Departnlent of Systematic Theoloa THE CIILJ1:CH AND POVERTY: FKOX1 CONCERN TO ACTION 30 I-Ienry J. Eggold, Professor, Department of I'racticnl Theologv Iltdexrrf in INDEX T o RELI~;IOUS PERIODICAL LITER *TURF, published by the Alnerica?~ Tlreological Library Associatiow, Speer Libmry, Privceto~z Theologi- cal Se?>~h~ary, Prirzceton, New Jersey. Clergy changcs of address reported to Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Missouri, will also cover mailing change of The Springfielder. Other changes of address should be sent to the Business Manager of Tlre Sprii~gfieldcr, Con- cordia Theological Scn~inary, Springfield, Illinois. Address communications to the Editor, Erich H. Heintzen, Concordia Theo- logical Seminary, Springfield, Illinois. Professor D. Hermann Sasse: Congratulations For A Septuagenerian HEINO 0. KADAI T WAS AN EVENT not soon forgotten when Professor D. I Hermann Sasse, responding to an invitation of Dr. George Beto, then president of the seminary, appeared on the Springfield Sem- inary campus in the winter quarter of the 1961-62 school year. He came to teach in the field of historical theology and to offer a number of scholarly presentations to the seminary family. Unassuming in manner and presence, sensitive to the feelings of others, a perfect gentleman at all times, the German-born Sasse, who now makes his home in South Australia, impressed students and faculty with his theological insight, confessional stance, and schol- arly competence. Wrote Dr. J. A. 0. Preus in T h e Springfielder: "Veni, vidi, vici. Seldom . . . have Caesar's famous words been more completely fulfilled than they were by Latin-German-Greek- Hebrew-quoting Hermann Sasse during his two-month stay in Spring- field (XXVI, no. 1, pp. 3f.). To the very marrow of his bones Professor Sasse is a Lutheran theologian. His theological accents become quickly obvious to those fortunate to hear him lecture. In a characteristically Lutheran spirit his theology is strictly Christocentric. Steadfastly he stresses the presence of Jesus Christ in the Word of the Gospel and His Sacrament. According to him the church exists by the presence of Christ alone: ubi Christzu, ibi ecclesia. The great truth which the Lutheran Church is privileged and responsible to proclaim is the sin- ner's justification s o h gratia, sola fide. Sola Scriptura is the author- ity by which doctrine must be judged. Sasse once remarked that it is not the Lutheran liturgy, which he dearly loves, nor the Syrn- bolical Books, in which his theology lives, that really count, but ultimately everything depends on the Gospel of the Scriptures. The moment the Lutheran church has ambitions of becoming something other than the stand on which the light of the Gospel is placed, it forfeits the right to exist. Proceeding from the Christologicall conceived vantage point of the authority of the divine Word an c l the real presence in the Sacrament, Dr. Sasse draws a rich and harmonious picture of bibli- cal truth. His appreciation for the Lutheran doctrines of the church and the ministry, his emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, his eschatological orientation, and his deep appreciation for the heritage of Christian worship life deserve to be underscored. Particularly impressive is his emphasis on theologia crucis over against aII forms of theologia gloriae when interpreting the life of the church and the destiny of the individual Christian. Professor D. Hennann Sasse: Congratulations for a Septuagenerian 3 Dr. Sasse's life and work distinguish him as a confessional theologian and a modern day confessor. His love for and commit- ment to the Lutheran Confessions are inspired by his devotion to sound biblical theologv, not by a spirit of separatism. He insists that obedience to the Word of God requires confessional loyalty. To be true to its Lord, the Lutheran Church cannot accept any in- terpretation of the Word other than set forth in its Confessions. Of course the Confessions are for Lutherans norma nmmatu, not norma nwmans. But because they are the correct theological ex- position of the nwma normans, the Holy Scriptures, they must neither be surrendered nor compromised. As Dr. Sasse sees it, the nature of Lutheran confessionalism is rfect harmony with genuine ecumenical concerns. The two Lu eran statements that 1 ) the Lutheran Church which is faithful to its Confession is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that 2) the church of Christ is not limited to the church of the Lutheran Con- fession are not paradoxical but genuinely ecumenical assertions about the doctrine of the church. He knows and believes that there is one Lord, one baptism, one church, and that the Son of God in- tercedes for us before His heavenly Father with the prayer "that they may all be one." But he also knows that there is one truth of the Gospel. He knows that the quest for ecumenicity cannot be pursued at any price. True unity is achieved only by the grace of God and in our Lord Jesus Christ when there is oneness in the understanding of what God's saving Gospel is and what He gives us in His Sacra- ments. Such unity of spirit is adequate but also necessary for ecumenism. As a young theologian Sasse became involved in the ecumenical dialogue. He participated in the work of the Faith and Order en- deavor, the Lutheran World Convention, and British-German Con- ference of Theologians. For a time he served as a member of the Continuation Committee and as Continental Secretary of the Faith and Order movement. He was entrusted with the editorial duties of the German edition of the Lausanne Report. With genuine joy he now remembers the personal encounters and ties with such ecu- menical notables as Bishops Charles Henry Brent and William Tem- ple. But inevitably the time arrived when he, true to his theological convictions, had to turn away from the main stream of the Protest- ant ecumenical revolution, becoming one of its persistent but re- sponsible critics. Sasse's confessional loyalty came to a crucial test in conjunc- ton with the Confessing Church movement in National Socialist Germany. The victorious Nazi Party and the so-called German Christians romoted the dissolution of the German Evangelical Church ~ e z r a t i o n of 1922 and the formation of a single unified Protestant church, the German Evangelical Church (July 1 I , 193 3), which would acknowledge the equality of the Lutheran, the Reformed, and the various Union Confessions. Sasse could not help but regard this as incompatible with confessional Lutheranism. As the German Christians gained control of the German Evangelical Church (DEK) an evangelical counter-thrust in the form of the Confessing Church movement was born. Ignoring possible reprisals by the state, Sasse articipated in the work of the Confessing Church, P being one of the ew professors of theology who dared to work for and attend meetings that led to Barmen. Soon, however, it became evident that the Confessional Front, under the leadership of Karl Barth and his friends, favored union between the Reformed and the Lutherans and was determined to work out a common evangeli- cal confession with which to withstand the nationalistic and racist notions that were creeping into the DEK. I t demanded courage and conviction on the part of Sasse to refuse to sign the Barmen Declara- tion (1934) and thus almost certainly alienate a signficant segment of the Confessing Church in the face of the powerful common enemy, the state and its puppet church. Against tremendous odds he bore witness for Lutheran confessional loyalty. Years later, after the Second World War, Sasse, again for con fessional reasons, found it impossible to be brought into aklihation with the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) and the Vere- inigte Evangelische Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands (VELKD). When the Lutheran territorial churches of Hanover and Bavaria be- came involved in their German ecumenical movement, he, as a member of the theological faculty of the University of Erlangen, found himself in the embarrassing position of being required to train young men for the ministry in a church that was, in his judg- ment, gullty of unionism. No alternative remained but to resign from the territorial church and to join a Free Church congregation (St. Martin's in Frankfort). This meant also a resignation from his excellent teaching position at Erlangen (December 1, 1949). Again confessional loyalty had taken its toll. Hermann Sasse's public stand for loyalty to the Lutheran Con- fessions is a matter of historical record (cf Arthur C. Cochrane, The Church's Confession under Hitler, 1962). What is perhaps less widely known, yet equally signscant, is the fact that Sasse regards all theology as a confession. For him every great theological work is a confession. That is why he lectures with utter serious- ness, carefully formulating his thoughts and expressing them with the pathos of a confessor who is willing to live and die by what he teaches. One gets the feeling that all his theology is worked out coram Deo. To his penetrating theological insights and confessional orien- tation Sasse brings an impeccable scholarly competence. He handles the necessary philological and historical tools with the ease of a master craftsman. No doubt many a student, after listening to Sasse's lectures, wished that his biblical, ecclesiastical, and modern languages were in better shape. As a professional church historian who loves his calling he is fully at home in the history of Christian thought. When discussing a dogma he is likely to be in constant dialogue with the fathers and brethren of the total Christian heritage. Professor D. Hermann Sasse: Congratulations for a Septuageneria~a 5 His favorites, however, are the early church fathers (Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine) and Luther. During the course of bis studies he has mastered surprisingly varied aspects of church his- . At ease in patristics and especially interested in the creedal an "7 liturgical life of the early church, he has also established him- self as a recognized authority in Luther studies. To this must be added his competence and first hand acquaintance tvith American Lutheranism, and a more than passing familiarity with the life and thought of the Roman Catholic Church. The man whose theological profde was just sketched was born seventy years ago (July 1 7, 1 8 9 5) at Sonnewalde, Niederlausitz, in Germany, in the modest home of a pharmaceutical chemist. He was the oldest in the family of two sons and three daughters. While attending schools in Mecklenburg, Luebeck, Breslau, and Berlin, he financed most of his education by scholarships. At the University of Berlin (1913-1916) he majored in classics and theology, his special interest being New Testament studies. At this time both Adolf Harnack and Karl Holl lectured in Berlin. Sasse studied his- tory of the early church with the former and nineteenth century theology with the latter. Then the First MTorld War interrupted his studies ( 19 16-1 9 18). The budding theologian became a common infantryman and later a corporal. The heated battles on the West- ern Front, in Flanders and France, and the rough life of the soldier -his feet still bear the marks of long marches-confronted him with the ultimate questions in a most personal way. Would his spiritual heritage stand the test of naked war and suffering? Said Sasse later: it was easier to live by Harnack's theology than to die by it. IVar matures those whom it does not crush. In 191 8 Sasse was back from war and struggling to continue his studies. After pass- ing his first examination and becoming a candidate for the holy ministrv he served a year of vicarage in Potsdam ( 19 19). Then fol- lowed the final examination and ordination into the ministry (1920). The young pastor served parishes in Oranienburg ( 192 1-1 928) and Berlin ( 1928-1 933). Both academic pursuits and personal life claimed part of the busy pastor's time. In 1923 he received the lic. Theol. degree for work on the aion and kosmos concepts. The following year he was married to Charlotte Naumann, a postmaster's dau hter from Oranienburg. The newlywed struggled financially but tu i l t a happy home. The marriage was blessed with three chil- dren, two of whom survived (Wolfgang, b. 1928; and Hans Christoph, b. 1936). In September, 1925, he made his first trip to America on a scholarship extended to him by the International Missionary Council. He studied a year at the theological faculty of the Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut and earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree for his research in the field of New Testament studies. His caIl to St. Rlary's congregation in Berlin brought him close to the University. He worked hard and enjoyed a sense of real accomplishment. These perhaps were the happiest years of his life. An appointment as Sozialpfarrer for the church of Berlin (1 928- 1930) established a stimulating contact with the Christian labor leaders, local pastors, and laymen. The edtorial duties for Das Kirchliche Jahrbuch ( 193 Iff) kept him in touch with the academic community. Then on January 1, 1933 important news arrived. He was invited to join the theological facul of the University of Erlangen as professor extraordinarius in the 2 eld of church histo He accepted. The university recognized his scholarly accomplix: ments by conferring on him the degree of doctor of theology (De- cember, 1933). Sasse now counted as his colleagues such well known theologians as Professors Procksch, Strathmann, Preuss, Elert, Althaus and Ulmer. The year 1933, as is well known, however, also signaled the rise to power of the National Socialists in Germany. Professor Sasse did not remain untouched by the life and struggles of the Christian church under Hitler's rule and its aftermath. Perhaps enough already has been said on the subject. The political and ecclesiastical power struggle and the constant threat to confessional Lutheranism in Nazi times drained much of the energy that under more favorable conditions might have been utilized for scholarly research and other positive pursuits. After resigning from the faculty of the University of Erlangen, Sasse accepted a teaching position at the Immanuel Theological Seminary in North Adelaide, Australia, thousands of miles away from his native land. On September 1 1, 1949, he and his farnil arrived in Melbourne to make a new home in a strange land. AJ justments needed to be made, and some of them were not always easily achieved. The move to Australia, as it turned out, was more than Mrs. Sasse could handle. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she was forced to live the life of an invalid for many years. Dr. Sasse lost his life companion when she passed away in 1964. Personal hardship and tragedy, however, did not break the spirit and vitality of Dr. Sasse. He dedicated himself to the service of the Lutherans in Australia, helping them to clarify their theologi- cal differences and lending a hand to their efforts towards fellowship (cf. Henry Hamann's article, "Efforts at Lutheran Union in Aus- tralia," in The SpringfieZder, XXVIII, no. 1, pp. 20-31). Dr. Sasse has also kept in close touch with confessionally oriented Lutheran churches in the United States and elsewhere. Most of the leaders of world Lutheranism are his personal acquaintances. His friend- ship with Dr. John W. Behnken is valued and respected by the long- time president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Twice he has been asked to be guest professor at Concordia Seminary in Springfteld (1961-1 962 and 1964-1 965). His reputation as a confessional theologian is highly regarded in the Missouri Synod circles generally. It is amazing that Dr. Sasse, Mr. World Citizen of confessional Lutheranism, has found time and energy to do more scholarly pub- lishing than can be enumerated here, in spite of the destructive world P ~ o f e s s o ~ D. Hennann Sasse: Cong~atubtions for a Septuagenen'an 7 wars that devastated Germany and despite the tension-filled years sandwiched between fighting. The American reading audience is best acquainted with his Here W e Stand, a translation of Was heisst Zutherisch ? ( 1 934; second enlarged edition in 1 93 6), dealing with the real character of Confessional Lutheranism, and This I s My Body: Luther's Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar (1959). Several other works deserve attention: Ameri- hnisches Kirchentum ( 192 7), Die Weltkonferenz fur GZauben und Kirchenverfassung: Deutscher amtlicher Bericht iiber die Welt- kirchenkonferenz zu Lausanne 1927 (1929), Jesus Christus der Herr: Das Urbekenntnis der Kirche ( 193 1 ), Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die ezlangelischen Landeskirchen Deutschlands ( 193 1- 1934), Vom Sinn des Staates (1932), Das Volk nach der Lehre der evan- gelischen Kirche ( 1934), Kirchenregiment und weltliche Obrigkeit nach lutherischer Lehre ( 193 5), U~zion und Bekenntnis ( 1936), Kirche und Herrenmahl: Ein Beitrag zum Verstiindnis des Altar- sakraments (1 93 8), Vom Sakrament des Altars ( 194 1 ) . Since late nineteen forties Dr. Sasse has published a unique series of scholarly essays as "Briefe an Lutherische Pastoren" ("Letters to Lutheran Pastors") many of which were printed in Lutherische B2iitter edited by pastor Friedrich IV. Hopf of Bleckmar. Unfortunately only very few of them are available in English translation. A frequent contributor to scholarly reference works, his contributions have ap- peared in such prestigeous publications as Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (2nd ed. and 3rd ed., IV, 1016-1018, 1437- 1438) and Kittel's Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testa- ment (aion, 1, 197-209; kosmeo and kosmos, 111, 867-898). The periodical publications run into hundreds, including The Spring- fielder ("Theses on the Seventh Article of the Augssburg Confes- sion," XXV, no. 3, 13-17; "The Future Reunited Church and The Ancient Undivided Church," W I I , no. 2, 8-2 1 ; "The Confession of Faith According to the New Testament," XXVIII, no. 3, 1-8). A look back at the seventy years of Dr. Sasse's life offers a portrait of a faithful Lutheran confessional theologian and confes- sor. Hard work, unselfish dedication to his calling, and faithful commitment to his Lord Jesus Christ have brought to him joy and suffering. Perhaps in terms of theobgia gloriae his life has not al- ways been adorned with conspicuous success. In terms of theologia crucis, however, it is an admirable record of witness to the Iove and mercy of Jesus Christ. Congratulations, Dr. Sasse, on your seventieth anniversary! May the Lord of the Church bless you and keep you. We thank you.