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Students sitting outside Bockman

Professor Emeritus Gerhard O. Forde Memory Book

Luther Seminary gives thanks for the witness and wisdom of Professor Emeritus Gerhard O. Forde, who died Aug. 9, 2005. For almost 40 years he shared his passion for the Reformation with generations of pastors and lay leaders. "I have tried through the years to present the integrity and truth of the tradition, especially as found in Martin Luther, in a way that is interesting, compelling and exciting," he said at his retirement in 1998.

You may post comments or memories here to share with the community and his wife Marianna.

I will ever be in debt to Dr. Forde for helping a law battered evangelical Anglican such as myself fully understand the power and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the true freedom that comes through justification by Faith alone by Christ.  Praise God for Dr. Forde's life and ministry, and I pray that He will bring up many great theologians carry on the mantle of the Gospel.
Matthew Wilkins
Duke Divinity School
The late Dr. Gerhard Forde's writings would forever changed my understanding of the Reformation gospel forever. Thanks to Dr. Forde's authentic and brilliant exposition, I now better appreciate the insights of Luther's justification by faith alone, proper distinction between Law and Gospel, theology is for proclamation, the electing deed of God in the Word and Sacraments, etc. You are truly a towering theologian, Dr. Forde. May there be many more who will follow in your footsteps, faithful to the tradition and cause of the Reformation.

Thank you.
Jason Seong Wei LOH
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am among those who knew Gerhard as "Bish."  We were classmates at the Seminary, and also sang in the Seminary Choir together.  His emphasis on sin and grace, Law and Gospel, and other essentials to the Lutheran interpretation of Scripture will be sorely missed.  I often find these emphases to be neglected or missing in the Church today.  When Bish and our classmates were at the Seminary, these were considered basic in understanding Scripture and Lutheran doctrine and in preaching and teaching the Word of God.  I pray that his teachings will live on through his books, copies of his lectures, etc.
William B. Johnson
Retired Pastor Trinity Lutheran, Sherman, TX
Luther Theological Seminary Classmate
Dr. Forde's rhetorical question about works-righteousness and theology of glory still rings in my ears like a hammer on a spike: "But what if it doesn't work?" To the various enthusiasms, political programs and therapies parading as the gospel, Dr. Forde doggedly held up the theology of the cross and deadly baptism.  

We find so many tempting options to get butts in pews, many of which can be subsumed under the phrase: "if it feels good, it must be true." Even back in the 1980s, perhaps with prophetic foresight, Dr. Forde waved us off the dangers of emotional manipulation and nicely-dressed pietism. There wasn't a false gospel Dr. Forde was unaware of, and I was astounded at his insight into various, re-camouflaged attempts to subvert God's prerogative of grace. I think Dr. Forde was trying to tell us that either the Word and Sacraments work, or they don't.

That's the Gospel Dr. Forde so stubbornly guarded. But he also taught the uncompromising accusation of the Law, which, of course, sets the table for the Gospel. Antinomianism was equally odious to Dr. Forde, because it made nonsense of the Gospel, a sort of works righteousness through the back door.

When I first encountered Dr. Forde in classes, I was a bit cowed by his learning, both wide ranging and deep. But gradually, through his insistent focus on Law and Gospel, I think we all grew to understand how astoundingly elegant, indeed simple, this Lutheran insight was. That he took great pains and eloquence to lecture on this elegance only proves the persistence of our prideful works-righteousness and the pearl of great price that is the Gospel.

If I could summarize Dr. Forde's influence on me, out here in the parish, I would simply quote the saying: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." My take on this saying is that Dr. Forde, fox-like, knew the many things we falsely triumph as God-pleasing, but, hedgehog-like, knew the one thing needful.

Even now, as I write my weekly sermons, I have the voice of Dr. Forde tsk-tsking me as a corrective. His too-early death will not change that. "Let God be God!"
Steven D. McGinley
Shell Rock, Iowa
It was an LSA meetng in the spring of 1952. Three students were speaking on the subject: Your Call From God!  I wasn't excited about attending, but my steady girl friend talked me into it. Bish Forde got up to speak and as he spoke the words, "you don't need a roar of thunder from the heavens as your call from God.", a roar of thunder filled the auditorium.

Everyone either smiled or chuckled. And why not, when the meeting began there were few clouds in the sky.  I neither smiled or chuckled. Rather his words led my life to flash before me. The next morning I met with Rev. Gerhard Frost and I became pre-sem!

I've had several opportunities to thank Bish (as he was called at Luther College). God uses us for His purposes at strange times and in strange ways. I've had the luxary these many decades of never doubting my Call into the pastoral ministry.

Again, I thank God for Bish Forde and his words that evening!
E. David Spencer, Pastor
Pastor E. David Spencer
Sun Lakes, Arizona
Gerhard Forde represented the best in the central Lutheran tradition that honors God's grace in Christ above all other theological concerns.  Carol: he was my teacher, and he helped me articulate the pastoral significance of that grace in the urban congregations that I have served.  Wayne: Gerhard spoke at eight of the ten "Barth conferences" that I organized.  His insights were always penetrating and helpful, and he shared with the great Basler a profound loyalty to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  Like so many others, I learned from him beyond my expectations.   We share with his family, friends, students, and colleagues a profound sense of gratitude for all that he has meant to the Church and for the preaching of grace.
Wayne and Carol Stumme
Saint Paul
Friend, student
Gerhard Forde knew above all else that God in Jesus the Christ forgives sinners - and he did everything he could to make sure that we knew it too! Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Mark C. Anderson
Lutheran Church of the Master, Corona del Mar, California
With evangelical fervor, keen insight, and a sharp wit, Dr. Forde formed in me the foundation of Law and Gospel for my pastoral life and ministry.  To the end, he always was a catholic Christian in every best way.  For his life and witness to the whole Church, including to me, I shall always be grateful.  May he rest in eternal peace in Christ our Savior.
Ray F. Kibler III
Claremont, California
I was a Southern Baptist with an identity crisis working on a Ph.D. in systematic theology when I happened upon "on Being a Theologian of the Cross." I couldn't put the book down and when finished I no longer suffered from an identity crisis. Thanks Dr. Forde for proclaiming to me that I am an unconditonally forgiven child of God.
T. Scott Landrum
Love Lutheran Church New Orleans
Dr. Gerhard Forde came to Luther Seminary during my student days.  He made an immediate and profound impression upon me and my fellow classmates.  Dr. Forde knew his subject matter and communicated it clearly.  Throughout my years as a parish pastor, I thought often of "Bish" Forde's passion for Lutheran theology and tried to shape my ministry accordingly.
Rolfe Johnstad
Henderson, Nevada
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Gerhard Forde.  He was a favorite professor at Luther back in the early 60s, bringing an excitement to theological studies very much appreciated by me and my classmates -- not least because he was only about ten years older than us, and because his theological views were so closely linked to the history of ideas.  Gerhard's work on 19th century theology, as presented in The Law -- Gospel Debate, played a central role in my own decision to specialize in 19th and 20th century German philosophy, especially Hegel studies, as further advanced and encouraged by my teachers, John N. Findlay and Hans-Georg Gadamer. I remember with great fondness and admiration our conversations on Hegelian and Post-Hegelian topics in the philosophy of religion, both in Saint Paul and in Boston.  He is greatly missed.

Professor Alan M. Olson (LTS, '65)
Philosophy and Religion
Boston University
Alan M. Olson
Boston, Mass.
Certainly with never an ounce of disrespect, my Seminary "buddies" and I always called him, "Forde"... not "Dr. Forde" or "Gerhard"... just Forde. I recall to this day with vivid confusion a first year class that introduced us to a plethora of Seminary professors. Forde spoke of "eschatological", "ontological", perhaps "deontological" and "hermaneutical" this and that... and I couldn't understand a word he said. I vowed to stay away from this guy that I "just didn't understand". I was then given yet another class with the famous "Nestingen and Forde" on the Lutheran Confessions. By the end of that class I learned more about the heart and wit and adorable brilliance of this man and made yet another vow... to take as much as I could from Forde with the quarters of school that remained. I grew to love Forde as a brother in faith and a mentor that I recall to be one of the life-shaping people in my life. I am grateful to God for the gift of this man and I know that I am blessed to have had him as a part of my life. One of my favorite memories of Forde is when he came into our Constructive Theology class and he would push things aside and introduce himself as "The Answer Man". We would ask questions... he would write them on the chalk board... then he would start to cluster questions and answer them systematically. I am sure we could all have sat there with our mouths wide open in awe, and when we would argue with him and defy the uncomfortable new turf we trod together, he could open our hearts to the Gospel... to love and compassion and deeper understanding. He would challenge us beyond our comfort zones. Little did many of us know the evasiveness of "comfort" in our future ministries. This calling is not about our comfort, but about the inescapable grace of God through Jesus Christ. I always had the feeling that Forde would never want to accept title's of greatness... but I know that his life and teaching left a mark of greatness in this world... way beyond the bounds of "Como-Eustis-et-peccator". As tears welled deeply behind my eyes the day I heard of Forde's death, my heart rejoiced for having known this great man. My heart and my life were transformed, in part, by the witness of this man of faith. Thanks be to God!
Keith Anderson
Woodville, WI
I remember in a first year class a student asking Professor Forde if he believed in the devil. Gerhard responded emphatically, "No," but then added, "But I do watch out for him." I use this comment to this day when talking about this controversial subject.
Rev. Michael P Stadtmueller
Our Saviour's Lutheran Fort Collins, CO
What a blessing it was to be in chapel at Luther Seminary when Gerhard Forde preached the sermon "God's Rights" based on the text of the workers in the vineyards in Matthew. As one of the workers in the vineyard who came to work late in the afternoon, I thank you Dr. Forde for proclaiming to me and my "late afternoon vineyard" colleague's the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we are totally dependent on the generosity of God for all we have, and all we are able to do. We gave you a 10 plus for that sermon. Later on in the day I was doubly blessed in class to hear you proclaim again the truth of justification of the sinner by grace as you told us the story of the "Semi Truck running over the innocent child playing in the street." You have no idea how stunned I was to learn I was the driver of the truck and not the innocent child. You made grace come alive for me and for that I am thankful and will try to do exactly what you invited me to do. Go to work in the vineyard. Thank you for your work in the vineyard at Luther Seminary. Thank you for being a theologian of the cross even though it wasn't the popular thing to be. Enjoy the fruit of the Tree of Life.
Robert Gohl
Grace Lutheran Cashmere, WA.
Dr. Forde had been on sabbatical during the first part of my seminary time.  When I met him on the sidewalk outside Bockman one day I lamented to him that I would not be able to take any of his classes.  He just said, "Do you have any of my books?  It's all in there."  Then he smiled and kept walking.
Kent Shane
1st Lutheran Poulsbo WA
I remember his great skill and humor in the classroom.  On one particular occasion Dr. Forde was lecturing on the relationship Luther had with Rome and at the perfect moment he "slipped"  and said "Chicago" instead of "Rome", and then he peered up and caught the laughter, a great classroom moment.  God's will be done.
Eric B. Berg
MacMurray College
I am grateful for Dr. Forde's proclamation and teaching.  I am grateful for his patient teaching in answering my (and countless others') many questions.  I am grateful that his theology was solely for the purpose of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen "for you."  I love that he called the justification of the hearer in preaching "the fun part."

God's comfort and peace to Dr. Forde's family and friends.
Jennifer Krentz
Austin, Texas
When I first came to Luther I was not studying for ordained ministry.  Even though I had been raised in the Lutheran tradition, I never fully heard the Gospel until I sat under the authority of Dr. Forde and Dr. Nestigen and studied the Lutheran Confessions.  It was as if a light was switched on and I encountered the graceful truth at long last!  Dr. Forde is the reason that I no longer use the rhetoric "fallen world" because, as he often asked, "Just how far did you fall?"  He taught me the understanding of human rebellion against God and how God restored the relationship damaged by that rebellion.  Thank you, dear friend.  And thank you for your inspirational writings that continue to be a must read for me!  Here's to the Amorites!
Rev. Annette M. Ganschow
Redeemer Lutheran Church, Wittenberg, WI
    Dr. Forde was one of the strongest influences on my understanding of the Christian faith in Lutheran terms. He was an outstanding personification of grace for me. I studied Second Article; Third Article; Martin Luther's Theology; Karl Barth; and any other subject I could with him. I wrestled with his writings, and was convinced of God's grace for me through his teaching and preaching.
    Two things stand out about Dr. Forde for me:
1) his dry sense of humor. As he was lecturing, visiting with you, or preaching, he would make a sly comment or a word play, and then look up with a little smile on his face, waiting for the response (we used to call that look, "the Forde smile");
2) his preaching. I had several preaching classes while a student at Luther, and I learned a lot about the mechanics of preaching from them. But I learned so very much about how to proclaim the Gospel from listening to Gerhard Forde preach in chapel (and in class!)
    We lost a strong Lutheran voice for the Gospel of Jesus Christ when Dr. Forde's voice was silenced. I'm sure he will have plenty of time to converse with those Doctors of the Church who spoke to him in thier writings and teaching: Augustine of Hippo; Martin Luther; Karl Barth, among others.
    God's comfort and peace to all who grieve his death.
    + Requiescat in aeternam. +
Dennis R. Creswell
Pilgrim of Wausau, WI
Alum - Occasional Adjunct Faculty
I thank God for you Dr. Forde. There were a couple of years in college in I pretty much felt that the God train had left town (to use a cheesey cliche), and I was not on it. God used Forde's books to reintroduce me to His grace and to one of His -at least in my estimation- greatest preachers Martin Luther. I am saddened at the news of his death, but full of joy knowing that Forde is Heaven because of Christ's resurrection. I will lift my glass to him. Salute Dr. Forde you have taught me well.
Steven Goodrich
Peace Lutheran Church -LCMS
I am so sad to hear of Dr. Forde's death.  There is no other way to put it than to say that he saved my life.  Through private confession with him I heard for the first time in my life that in God's eye's I am OK.  Dr. Forde was my first real pastor through whom God gave me the gift of unconditional love. Dr. Forde was my rock, my mentor, my teacher - the one through whom I experienced and learned how God really works.  Through Dr. Forde's proclamation to me I was saved!  I am alive today because God chose to work through him to reach me.  I am so sad that he has died.  Now that he and my other dear mentor, Dr. Lull have both joined the chorus of angels heaven is much better off theologically and this world must carry on their legacy.  If I can save the life of at least one child of God like he saved my life then that's what the gospel is all about.  Thank you, Dr. Forde for giving me life that is eternal and sacred.
John W, Polk
Kansas City
Dr. Forde's challenge during my senior year to read theology at least one hour a day along with personal devotions has been prohpetical in keeping me grounded scripturally and theologically as I serve in the United States Navy as a chaplain.  His theological insight was the praxis of his faith witnessed to his students.  I give God thanks and praise for the opportunity to learn from him.  In Christ Jesus, CDR Timothy R. Eichler, CHC, USN.
Tim Eichler
Alexandria, VA
I grew up in the Lutheran tradition.  Like many Lutheran youth, I have many strong memories of my confirmation years.  I'll ever forget my confirmation textbook..."Free To Be"...a classic Forde / Nestingen book. Like many confirmation students, I had a real love/hate relationship with my confirmation books.  Imagine my suprise when I enrolled at Luther Seminary and found out that I'd be taking classes from the same men who wrote my confirmation textbook!  I'll never forget my first Forde lecture.  I sat in a daze, wondering if I would ever be able to fully understand the theology that I was being taught.  Oh how I struggled in his class, but oh how I marveled over all that he had to share with us.

To this day, I'll admit that I'm not a very good theologian.  But thank God for men like Prof. Gerhard Forde who was!  Our church has lost not only a great theologian, but a very respected man of God.  I think I'll take my "Free To Be" book off the shelf and re-read it...remembering the man who taught me that God's grace comes to us as a free gift.  

Thank you for sharing your faith and your bold proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I, along with many others in the ELCA will miss your wisdom and leadership.  Thank you for being faithful to your call!

In Him,

Pastor Paul Tjostem
Trinity & Dawson Lutheran
Steele/Dawson, North Dakota
Rev. Paul Tjostem
Trinity Lutheran, Steele, ND
I am another join the chorus of gratitude for having had Dr. Forde as Seminary Professor and Mentor.  After I began my first class with Dr. Forde, it did not take long for me to realize that I wanted to take as many classes from him as possible.  My favorite quote was a response to a student who complained that the approach Dr. Forde was taking could lead to Grace becoming "irresistible!"  Dr. Forde simply responded, "I find it pretty irrestistible, don't you?"  Blessings to the family and all of us who grieve his passing.
Rev. James R. Radatz
Greenfield Lutheran Church, Harmony, Minnesota
Gerhard was my advisor during my seminary days, and I took every class from him that would fit into my schedule.  (I used to say I had a minor in Forde!) At one point I thought maybe I should take classes from the other fine teachers in the systematics department--but I kept coming back to Gerhard's classes, even though I could almost finish his sentences (or anticipate how he'd respond to a student's question).  I kept coming back, I think, because Gerhard proclaimed the gospel as he taught--there was, for him, a seamlessness between education and proclamation.  And I never tired of hearing him say, in so many words, "God has made a decision about you."    Thanks be to God for the life and witness of this profound teacher and preacher!
Larry Wohlrabe
Our Savio'rs Lutheran Church, Moorhead, MN
It was my incredible privilege to be a student of Dr. Forde. He was a wonderful teacher and theologian. His dry sense of humor was a delight. His classes shaped my personal theology by giving me the freedom to depend on the savior alone for my salvation. He was Lutheran to the core and I loved him as my teacher.

Thank you, Gerhard. You were important in my life and I am so glad that your thoughts will carry on through your books. However, I will miss you.
Donna Dohrmann
Lutheran Church of the Cross ,Bismarck, ND
It has been a great joy to read the memorials written so far.  They remind me of the well-spring of blessings that continue to flow from my seminary years.  I had Professor Forde for at least two classes in seminary- maybe more, but the memory fades with the passing years!  What does not fade is Gerhard Forde's witness and his contribution to my life and ministry. To have been taught by Professors Forde and Nestingen in one class- it was like being a fly on the wall of two great minds and faithful souls!  Theology for Proclamation is one of my formative books.  I am grateful for that heritage of Luther and faithful interpreters like Gerhard Forde.  Of course, Professor Forde was more than an interpreter of Luther.  He was always a proclaimer and servant of Christ.  I loved his classes not only for the intellectual challenge but also for those graceful momements in class when he did slip into proclaiming the Gospel.  And I heard it "for me", often when I most needed to hear it!  No ladders to climb- including intellectual or ecclesiatical ones! Just God come down to us in Jesus Christ with forgiveness and new life.  Thank you, Gerhard, and thanks be to Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, New Douglas IL
Dr. Fordes book On Being a Theologian of the Cross has had the deepest impact on me. I am grateful for getting to know this true theology and hope his heritage will be kept according to the wisdom of this great scholar. My thoughts are with his family and friends. We share a great hope in Christ.
Rev. Sorle Stenersen Hovdenak
Tromsø, Norway
Gerhard changed so many lives teaching people about faith in Christ; the most important lesson there is in life. Now he is with Christ in peace, and in perfect company. I find great comfort in knowing this. I offer my condolences to the family.
Janine Cross
Woodland Hills Church
friend of family
As a new Lutheran-by-marriage, I asked my pastor about this "justification thing."  He simply handed me Justification: A Matter of Death and Life- "Here, read this and then let's talk."  What a tremendous way to be introduced to a Lutheran understanding of the work Jesus did for us on the cross, through the unflinching words of Professor Forde.  Thanks be to God for his work for the Master!
J. Matthew Greenshields
Epiphany Lutheran, Richmond, VA
It is not an exaggeration to say that one rarely thinks of men like Dr. Forde dying. Will not God always leave us such luminaries to help us understand His great compassion and mercy?

Nevertheless, such is the way of all flesh. And this flesh says thanks and praise to God for His faithful servant, the Rev. Dr. Gerhard Forde. The Church Militant is all the better for his true devotion and the Church Triumphant for his eternal presence.
Rev. Dr. Dennis P. Brostrom
Faith Lutheran (LCMS), Silver Bay, MN
Luther Seminary student
Gerhard Forde never knew me, but I was blessed to know him through his writing, especially "Where God Meets Man." Like Paul and Luther, Dr. Forde always preached the Cross and its radical implications -- the heart of the matter. Thank you, sir.
Cliff Hadley
Huron, SD
I was not fortunate enough to have attended class while Dr. Forde was actively teaching, but consider myself lucky to have benefited from his work and wisdom through his writings and a few campus "encounters."  His association with Luther Seminary was a factor in my choosing to apply.

His ability to articulate a theology of the cross amidst the many competing glory theologies has and will continue to serve the Church well.

Ours is the loss, his is the victory through the crucified and risen Christ.  Thank you God for the gift that was Dr. Forde and thank you for the gift of your Son.
Rev. Craig Groseclose
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Dear unforgetable Professor G. Forde

How I can forget to one of my first professors at Luther Seminary.  His passion when he taught Lutheran Confessions surprised me and challanged me in a great way.  

Dr Forde I really thank you for all your support duing my time at Luther when  I was the only peruvian trying to learn English at the same time  I was trying to earn my MDiv.

Thank you because you inspired me to be a serious follower of Christ as well as a serious interpreter of Lutheran Confession.

You are with God now and I hope to see you some day to tell you know how much I appreciate your teachings and your strong faith.

You are in my memories always.   Thanks be to God for men of faith like you.

Rev Gissela Varinia Blanco
Iglesia Luterana Vida Nueva
Phoenix, AZ
Rev Gissela Varinia Blanco
Iglesia Luterana Vida Nueva
I was able to hear Dr. Forde speak when I was enrolled at Roanoke College. He was there for a conference. I slipped in and heard as many of his talks as I could and read his book "Where God meets Man". In reading that book and hearing him speak, it was like so many things started to come together in my head and started to make sense about being a Lutheran! I was able to see the Lutheran Church in a new light. Finally nine years later, I am in Seminary and learning more and more each day about the grace of God. Thank you Dr. Forde!
Charlene Barnes
Luther Memorial Church, Omaha, NE
Student at LTSG
A true theologian. He taught us how to think clearly, teach with passion and proclaim God faithfully, all for the faith of the church. May Jesus Christ be praised and Gerhard Forde remembered with thankfulness for his bold witness.
Wayne Pris
Eidsvold Lutheran Church, Somers, Montana
Dr. Forde was an articulate theologian and servant of God. I especially remember his books written when we were part of the American Lutheran Church.
Rest eternal grant him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Pastor Stephen K. Kummernuss, St Mark's Lutheran Church, Auburn, Indiana
ELTS '77
Stephen K. Kummernuss
Auburn, Indiana
Fellow pastor
He had a gentle strength.  His reasoning in his lectures were like an ocean wave to me---they built their logic slowly and powerfully until the "wave" broke and my mind could begin to understand an important point of faith.  His Chapel sermon using the anaolgy of a bouquet of flowers remains my favorite. To God be the glory for his witness among us!
Kevan Smith
Hope Lutheran, Fargo ,ND
He was my teacher
I never met Dr. Forde, but came to know his servant mind and great mind for theology, through his writings.  I feel like I have lost a dear friend.  I felt closer to him than many people I have actually met.
Thank you kind sir.
Bobby W. Leggett
Bobby W. Leggett
St. Paul Lutheran Church-Bulverde, Texas
I will forever be grateful for the wisdom and profound theological insights of Dr. Forde. I have read many of his books and heard him lecture and he never failed to isnpire me. May God bless the memory of Gerhard Forde.
Bill Wagner
English Lutheran, Hazen, ND
I viewed Dr. Forde as a mentor
I will never forget a lecture Dr. Forde once gave in the afternoon Theology of Luther class I took from him.  It was on Luther's theology of the cross, given in Forde's accessible, witty, frill-less way.  By the end of the lecture I realized it was perhaps the most powerful lecture I had ever heard, and that I need not be angry at God, because God's love in Christ on the cross was stronger than my anger, stronger than sin or death.  I was stunned.  I went up to Forde afterwards, and told him how his lecture had affected me, and thanked him for it.  He seemed surprised, and humbled, and said thanks back.  

We will miss him, but are confident in the promise of Christ he so ably reminded us of.  May his family be comforted with that promise.
Andy Tune
Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio
Gerhard Forde served as my advisor and mentor. The only course he taught that I did not take was the Theology of Karl Barth. He encouraged me in doing graduate work in Luther Studies at Marquette University with Ken Hagen. The memory I treasure is having him and family to our home for supper. As I tried to carry on a profound conversation with him, his son came over, sat on the floor in front of Gerhard's feet, whipped out a deck of cards, and the two of them began playing a game of war while he and I talked! I learned much from that simple incident. I was at the Churchwide Assembly when Forde's death was announced and there was a collective mourn from the Assembly. Many of us wept. We have been blessed and we will be a blessing to the whole church if we continue to exhibit his passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev Dr Olaf Roynesdal
East Side Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD
I have had the blessing of reading several of Dr. Forde's books in my studies. I will always carry with me in my ministry his passion for the Theology of the Cross.
Peter J. Spallek
St. Louis, MO
Student (CSL)
Dr. Forde was one of the primary reasons for selecting Luther Seminary when I felt the call of God.  I cannot begin to express how saddened I am by his passing, but am also thankful that I had the opportunity to take numerous classes from him and learn from a great theologian.  

I couldn't imagine not having the Scriptures opened in the way he did for me - to know the depravity of human sin but to take greater joy in hearing the words of absolution proclaimed.  I thank God for you and for the honor of having studied under you.  And truly, "the last enemy to be destroyed is death!"  Thanks be to God!  Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Jeff Cottingham
First Lutheran Church, Paxton IL
I arrived at Luther seminary through the formational filters of Fundamentalist Pentecostalism and a "conversion" to Confessional Lutheranism vis a vi the LCMS and its flagship seminary in St. Louis.

Dr. Forde has sometimes been misread as a 17th Century scholastic Lutheran.  However, the power of his perspective was that his teaching transcended the 17th Century as easily as it transcended other forms of modern rationalism.

I shall always be grateful to Dr. Forde for his embodiment of the incarnate gospel.

Larry Isbell, Pittsburg
Lawrence L. Isbell
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
As publisher of "The Wittenburg Door", Dr. Forde's book, "On Being A Theologian Of The Cross", was the only book that I have ever recommended.  We were honored to publish an interview with him in the September/October 2004 issue.  I thank God for his courage and witness to the Gospel.
Ole Anthony
Dallas, TX
Dr. Forde's book "Justification: A Matter of Death and Life" has been "dynamite" for my work and life as a Christian pastor. I was his "student" through it. Thanks to God for his perception on the Gospel and ability to tell it!
Rev. Bruce Harshberger
Loveland, Colorado
Profoundly meaningful instruction was given by Dr. Forde as I sat in class.  The theology upon which I base Sunday sermons finds its source in the cross and resurrection of the Christ.  My heartfelt sympathy to the family.  God be with us all as we grieve the loss of one so significant.
Mary Feistner
Elk Point, SD
For the past several years our churches have been transitioning from a "Jesus Movement" background to a Reformed-Lutheran understanding of Scripture. Gerhard Forde's book "On Being a Theologian of the Cross" is without doubt the single most important influence that began our move in this direction. This book introduced us to Dr. Forde's life's work, and through him to Luther, which has profoundly reshaped not only our theology but our experience of daily life in Christ's church. We hope his family and associates know that God has used His servant, Gerhard Forde, to help and bless a part of Jesus' church he may not have even known he affected. Thank you.
David Sczepanski
Gospel Outreach Church, Eureka, California
Dr. Forde had a way of cutting to the "Quick."  In the final days of my senior year he was challenged in class by a student who should have known better.  His only response was, "I always knew we were born with sin."  He could say this in a way that was non-threatening and yet with an aire of "You are a sinner, you are forgiven."  A most loved man who knew he was forgiven and wanted to share that message with the world.
Paul Fiske
Oslo Lutheran Church, Gruver TX
I always considered "Bish" Forde, as his contemporaries knew him, as a "rock" on the faculty of Luther Seminary.  He influenced a host of people, especially pastors and theologians, to appreciate the meaning of salvation through Christ, "Per fidem, propter Christum" - "Throuch faith, on account of Christ."  We will miss him, but his voice  will continue to be heard in the ministries of congregations.  Thanks be to God!
Arland O. Fiske (Retired)
Laporte, MN
Friend, supporter
I was very privileged to take three classes from Dr. Forde. Coming from a strong law-oriented background, he gave direction and words to what my heart had been trying to say. One of my highest honors at the seminary was when fellow students would accuse me of being an "extreme-Fordeist."

God's blessings and peace to all grieving his death.
Allyne Holz
Glyndon Lutheran Church
I took Third Article from Dr. Forde 26 years ago.  Yes, he was brilliant.  Yes, he was a fantastic teacher.  But I loved most his wit and humor.  On one occasion he created a melee in the classroom by leading us into a debate about whether baptism was necessary for salvation.  As we students began to argue with one another he just sat down and grinned that wonderful grin.  The bell rang and he was the first out the door, without introducing any conclusion.  I pursued him across the snow: "I'm not going to let you get away.  I need to know.  Is baptism a requirement or not?"  His answer: "Just remember, Auer, the Gospel is about salvation, not damnation.  Go and preach the Gospel."  Those words have been the cornerstone of my ministry for 25 years.  Thank you,
Gerhard, for the wisdom you shared with me.
Anthony Auer
Pasadena, CA
Thank you to Dr. Forde who taught me about the grace of God in Jesus Christ. I have often used many 'Forde' quotes in my classes and sermons. He was a gift of God to all who had him for a class at Luther Seminary.
Rev. Paul Hadland
Augustana, Fergus Falls, MN
Nobody told me about Dr. Forde before I came to Luther Seminary.  Thankfully, I discovered him immediately---his section of Introduction to Systematic Theology happened to fit into the first term Junior schedule.  After some brief bows to a couple of contemporary and ancient theologians, he promptly led us directly to the crux of the matter---DE SERVO ARBITRIO.  The real Luther was presented to us, as well as the passion of the person who actually made the Seminary's name a viable one for more than a generation.

We also discovered rapidly that Dr. Forde knew what worship is supposed to be---DIVINE SERVICE.  When it was that, he was grateful to God.  But when it was not, we usually heard about it!  The best time to have his class was immediately after chapel, for when the situation demanded it, he made chapel into a learning experience.

He could absolutely demolish a sermon with one well crafted sentence!  Sometimes, this led to an extended discussion of evangelical proclamation and the kind of theology that should support it.  At other times, his one sentence clearly said it all!

His lectures on the Augsburg Confession were profound.  But when it came to Article 14, he did not lecture---he just told us about Ole and the Prayer Meeting!  The laughter lasted several minutes--and the responsibility of the pastor for public proclamation was clear beyond a doubt!

He also knew what the essence of Holy Communion is---a gift!!  Any of a variety of liturgical innovations or historical aberations which confused, obscured or contridicted that reality were given the dismissive treatment they certainly deserve.  Thanks chiefly to Dr. Forde, the green hymnal has the proper liturgical options which, if used, allow the essence of Holy Communion to shine through.  Tragically, it appears that such cannot be said for its successor, approved by the ELCA the day after he died.

And now, he is gone.  Who will follow him?  Thankfully, there are his many appreciative students--several of whom are now teachers--and many faithful people in the church.  They have heard him--or read him--and have discovered what he knew so well----that, to use one of his titles, "theology is for proclamation"---in Word and in Sacrament.  

Soli Deo Gloria!
John Peterson
Philadelphia, PA
I had the privilege of serving as Dr. Forde's student assistant during my senior year at Luther (1974-75).  It was only a matter of scheduling that determined whether he or Dr. Harrisville (who ultimately did it) preached at my ordination, since I had adopted Harrisville's Pauline exegesis within Forde's theological hermeneutic.  The three seminary courses I took from him (Luther's theology, the doctrine of the sacraments, and the so-called 'constructive theology' for seniors), as well as a Kairos course and guided readings following graduation, profoundly shaped my thinking; I continue to rely on his grasp of Luther's theology in my own writing.  I know that he received some 'ribbing' from colleagues when I transferred to the LCMS in 1983, but there is no ecclesiastical boundary on the wisdom of his insights.  Soli Deo Gloria!
David R. Liefeld
St. Peters, MO
I only met Dr. Forde a few times.  I sat in on only one lecture from the last Confessions course he taught.  He was speaking on the death and resurrection.  It was that lecture that made me decide I needed to study at Luther.  The concept of dying and rising with Christ is quite often on my mind.  And the memory of that lecture has been with me through many troubled times.
I thank God for my encounters with Dr. Forde, brief as they were.
My prayers are with the Forde Family.  Peace be with you.
C. Rachelle Blake
St. Paul, MN/ Houston, TX
"Now that you don't have to do anything, what are you going to do?" Does anyone else remember hearing Dr. Forde say that in class? I surely do.

By grace alone. Amen; I believe.

My deepest thanks to the prof who, among others, helped me in my recovery from fundamentalism. I only regret that I never thanked him face-to-face. Thank you, Dr. Forde. And thanks be to God.
Luterano Anónimo
Forde always brought me to the straight and narrow way.  As I toyed with various theologies, it seemed that a book written by him would appear or a conference would happen at which he was speaking and I would be rattled back to the power of law/gospel.  One of my last memories is when he expounded in relationship to current "therapy" theologies in which Jesus was a good friend suffering with us and he simply said that we do not have a Jesus who is a nice therapist but who takes us with him to the grave to kill and make alive.  And death on Thursday and Funeral on Friday!  Sounds like what Forde would do!  Can't have a lot of fal-de-rah!  He has been a blessing in my life as a Christian and Pastor.
Paul H. Tobiason
Colfax Rural Lutheran Churches
So long, Bis,  Thanks for the happy memories.
Pax,Iver Aal
Iver Aal
Chokio, Mn.
Friend and neighbor at Starbuck
I'll miss Gerhard a lot. But we hope to see you, Marianna and share good memories rogether. Sheldon and Dorothy
Sheldon Tostengard
friend and colleague
I have known Gerhard Forde as a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend for almost 45 years.
In my second year as a Luther College student he joined a number of other "young theologians" to fill in for a religion department that had been beset by controversy around the interpretation and use of scripture. I still remember some of his sermons which keenly and without wavering pressed to the heart of the Reformation treasure of God's good news of grace in Jesus Christ.
What a pleasure to find that when I showed up as a student at Luther Seminary, Gerhard was again my professor and mentor in the theology of the Reformation and Martin Luther. In those days we young seminarians also liked to attend University Church of Hope in part to enjoy Gerhard's clear voice as cantor and worship leader.
Since then I have been challenged and have grown in many ways through his mentoring through his writings and through many conversations, as a friend and as a faculty colleague over some 35 years -- a rich treasure.
But there is at least one place for Gerhard where "grace" was not admitted. For at least 15 years we have been partners in a weekly tennis foursome. On the tennis court Gerhard was a fierce competitor and we learned to expect no "grace" when it came to calling close shots.
For Gerhard's clear witness to the grace and mercy of God in so many arenas, I give thanks to God.
James L. Boyce
Luther Seminary
Faculty: 1970-
Good memories of working with Gerhard on the Luther Faculty.
Dick Vangerud
Waite Park, MN
Former Facultry Colleague
Thank You Dad, for giving me Life!

Being adopted, I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have been 'chosen' by you and Mom. I used to often feel anguished, that I owed you both something that I would never be able to pay back. Since then I've learned to accept that what you did for us, (adoption) was preordained and that you expect nothing in return.

I can promise you my never ending Love. You made me who I am today, and I would not trade it for anything! You taught me the importance of education, morals, ethics and faith. My only wish is that every child could share the experiences and wisdom that you did with us. The world would be a better place for it.

Thank You Dad, You are the Best!

I will see you again, Tim
Timothy Gerhard Forde
St. Paul
Eldest son
When I arrived at Luther Seminary in 1975, I was a fair social scientist and budding social critic.  My agenda for theological study was centered on adding theology to my Faustian arsenal.  However, encountering Gerhard Forde and the theology of the cross destroyed that agenda in favor of the power of the Word that both kills and gives life.

While many saw Gerhard Forde as only a consummate practitioner and pioneer in teaching Luther's hermeneutics, I also appreciated his deep culture --love of drama, literature, and music.  Even tennis, touch football, and good beer.

Gerhard Forde taught all of his students, in the words of the Heidelberg Disputation, "to see what a thing is" by looking at the cross to become "happy human beings" instead of "unhappy gods."  

May God bless Gerhard Forde's memory.
Thomas W. Mundahl
Bethel Lutheran Church, Willmar, MN
I give thanks to God for the witness and work of Gerhard Forde. I was a new Lutheran when I came to seminary in 1992, and my first systematics class was his. By the grace of God, he "caught" me for orthodox Lutheranism. He revealed to me the beauty and power of this church that preached the Reformation, and instilled in me a hope and love for it--"for your servants love her very rubble." More importantly, Gerhard pointed me to Christ. Not to himself--never to himself--instead, Christ the head and cornerstone. With his droll ways, his self-effacing wit, his dry humor he taught me to love Christ and his church.  The words are not mine to say--they are reserved for another--but it is my prayer that the Lord receive him with the phrases "well done" and "good and faithful" and "servant." That, finally, is what Dr. Forde was: a servant of the living God and of these particular Lutheran fields white unto harvest. He would shake his head to hear it, and fix me with a gimlet stare and mutter something about outdated Latin hymnody, but I'll say it anyway: "May the angels lead you into paradise: may the martyrs come to welcome you, and take you to the holy city, Jerusalem."

It's what we all wait for, with a little clearer hope since God gave us Gerhard Forde.
Pari R. Bailey
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church Benson, MN
Dr. Forde was my advisor the three years I was at Luther and I took several classes from him. If I listed the people who have had the most profound impact on my life Dr. Forde would be in the top 3. Every day that I work as a pastor and live as a person of faith I hear Gerhard's words, insisting on a clear declaration of the Gospel and its impact on our lives.  May his family and friends be sustained in their loss.  I give thanks to our Heavenly Father for my relationship with Dr. Forde and his work with countless students and faculty.


Pastor Dave Zellmer
David B. Zellmer
Lutheran Memorial Church, Pierre, SD
Dr. Forde was amazing.  He seemed to chuckle to himself at the beauty and power of God's grace.  It was refreshing to hear his teachings on how to simply hand out the yes - you're in.  His confidence in the proclamation of God was magnetic.  He had a huge impact on my faith.  He brought God closer and encouraged confidence in the promises of God.  I can't think of a better complement to give a person.  What a party it must be in heaven to welcome home such a messenger of God's gifts.
Michael Larson
Grand Rapids, MI
I wept at my desk to read the email about Dr. Forde. His death leaves me practically disconsolate tonight. Without taking any actual preaching class from him, he taught me so much about preaching that I can't imagine what I'd say from a pulpit now, my speech but sound and fury.

He was not flashy or popular, but my sense is that Dr. Forde's influence is deep, his words potent and timeless. A lesser person might have sought fame and glory in numerous volumes and public speaking. Dr. Forde seemed content to chuckle, cross his arms and drily intone something like "What's the matter, don't you like pie?" to make his point about the resurrection for the benefit of a gaggle of restless students.

If theology is anything like a contact sport (it is!) we would say that pound for pound Gerhard Forde is the greatest theologian of his generation, punching well above his weight. Picture someone so quiet putting in print such haymakers as "one might fall prey to the Barthian error of thinking one can preach gospel before law" (JBF, 92). Who has the nerve to unblinkingly toss around "Barthian error" for crying out loud? In an age of celebrity theologians and preachers-as-kingmakers, Dr. Forde's efforts stand quietly insistent: We're feckless sinners. The office of ministry means _doing_ something about it. And the _point_ of theology is to drive to proclaim. That's fertile ground to stake out and I believe, hope, ache to imagine! that our preaching and our ministry is better for him. All glory to God for the life of my teacher, our wise old voice and friend. Sola fide!
Jon Olsen
Minneapolis, MN
In memory of Professor Gerhard O. Forde, my Doktorvater,

The first book I read at Luther Seminary in the summer of 1992 was Where God Meets Man, for boosting my English comprehension while I prepare to enter the doctoral program. And probably the last book I read before I left Luther was the manuscript (yes, before the publication) of Being a Theologian of the Cross, while I was writing my dissertation. It was Dr. Forde who led me in the path of genuine and deeper appreciation of Luther's theology.
Thank you, Professor Forde, and Marianna, for being so kind and generous to me.
Willaim Liao
Associate Professor, China Evangelical Seminary, Taipei
I am thankful to God for the teaching and writing ministry of Dr. Forde. While a student at Luther he was one of my most influential professors. During my first year at Luther (1970) Dr. Forde announced that he was looking for some babysitters. Myself and my wife Ann signed up and spent many evenings in the Forde home watching their children and their television (at the time, we didn't have any children or a television.) The Fordes were always most gracious and generous to us. As we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for Dr. Forde's life and ministry we also pray that God will bless all who mourn his passing.
Larry Thomas
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Issaquah, Washington
In thanksgiving to God for my teacher, Dr. Forde, I remember some of his words: "It is hard for us to learn the lesson of creation.... We seek the secret behind the scenes, to wrest from creation the answer to our agony, to go on living as long as possible and at any cost..." ("Without a Card," 1975); "What chance do we really have other than the sheer generosity of God?" ("God's Rights," 1986); "The clothed God must conquer the naked God for us" (Theology Is for Proclamation, 1990); "Faith means precisely faith and not some sort of supernatural sight" (The Law-Gospel Debate, 1969); "[We] cannot live today on yesterday's faith" (Where God Meets Man, 1972); "Growth in Christian life... is... in forgetting oneself" (Justification By Faith, 1982); "Perhaps we need a sequel today [to J. B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small] called something like Your God Is Too Nice!" ("The God Who Kills," 1998); "Self-esteem -- the current circumlocution for pride" (On Being a Theologian of the Cross, 1997); "The Word is not relevant to the 'Old Adam' as such.... It is something like the word, 'I love you,' spoken in a brothel" ("A Short Word," 1981); "The supposed scandal of our disunity is no greater than the scandal of our contrived unions!" (A More Radical Gospel, 2004); "[The office of ministry is like] the television show 'Mission Impossible' where the 'team' receives its instructions via a tape... that then announces that it will self-destruct in a number of seconds.... It seeks to set people free, that is, to get out of the way for the Christ it proclaims" ("Promoting Unity," 1989); "Where was [objectivity and stability] finally to be found [in the Old Synod]?.... The truth was that sinners were accepted in baptism and forgiven through the means of grace, and that was that.... The liturgy was chanted by the pastor and responded to with gusto by the people" ("The 'Old Synod,'" 1977); "My biggest fear in the present is that the eschatological two-age structure of theology is once again simply being lost.... Lost in an ecclesiology which threatens to substitute itself for the kingdom" ("The One Acted Upon," 1997); and "There is nothing you can do now but, as the words of the old hymn have it, 'climb Calvary's mournful mountain' and stand with your helpless arms at your side and tremble before 'that miracle of time, God's own sacrifice complete! It is finished; hear him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die!" (The Captivation of the Will, 2005). Amen!
Ronald F. Marshall
First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, Seattle, WA.
I am humbled and honored to have studied under Dr. Forde - the 'great communicator'of the Lutheran faith. While none of us would wish him to linger, his death is somehow much bigger and the loss goes way deeper than the death of one man. Dr. Forde was a giant of theology - but more a giant in the faith. His is a voice that will not be silenced by death.
Robin K. Nice
Silver Bay, MN
I was blessed to read many of Dr. Forde's books - especially "Where God Meets Man," and finally had the privilege of "sitting at his feet" at Luther Seminary.  He always struck me as a humble man of deep faith.  He wrote and taught in a way not to dazzle us with his intellect but to assure us of God's grace. The church is the poorer for his passing, but richer beause of the legacy he leaves behind.
J. David Whelan
Menomonie Wisconsin
More than any other, Professor Gerhard Forde, a respected and acclaimed colleague during my years on Luther Seminary faculty,  embodied for me the historical identity of the seminary in the same way that he was the major champion of that doctrine "upon which the church stands or falls"--justification.  Others will ably carry on and develop the central themes of Gerhard's teaching and scholarly career but his wit, his style, his very presence cannot be duplicated.  To engage him in constructing theology for effective and faithful Christian witness in the contemporary world was the closest thing to encountering the very spirit of Martin Luther.
Lee E. Snook
Saint Paul, Mn
Professor of Theology, 1970-99
Though I only meet Dr. Forde a few occasions, through his books the one who truly opened Luther to me.  Particularly his understanding of the Christian life as one where we die and rise with Christ has been massively influential on my own theology.  As I near the end of my doctoral studies, I am begining to plan a dissertation on his theology of preaching. It is my hope and desire that Dr. Forde will be remembered as the greatest American Lutheran theologian of the 20th century.
Jack D. Kilcrease III
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Milwaukee
Gerhard was the reason I came to Minnesota and Luther Seminary. When the letter came stating Dr. Forde would be my advisor at Luther, the die was cast. He remains my "theological father." I am blessed to have come to know Marianna and him personally - such wonderful people! His writings are a gift to be treasured. Of the many things I shall miss about him, included is his subtle wit and humor. We love you Marianna. Blessed be Gerhard's memory.
Rev. Scott Adams
Saint Paul, MN
It was my privilege to study with Professor Forde, although only for a class or two, while attending Luther Seminary.  Although we may not have agreed on everything, his passionate commitment to Lutheran Theology, especially his understanding of the theology of the cross, has been and will continue to be an important part of my ministry in the Lutheran Church.
Pastor Mary L. Peterson
Scranton ND Scranton Lutheran Parish
It was one of my hopes to meet Dr. Forde, for it was his book Where God Meets Man that changed the way I know God and our relationship to God. It was in Dr. Walter Bowmann's classroom in Columbus where I had to read Forde and I have never been the same since. I will now have to wait till the last day to meet the great Minnesotan Theologian and convey my gratitude. Rest in Peace good and faithful servant! DG
Dr. Daniel Grimminger
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
I count it a privilege and an honor to have studied under Dr. Forde.  Condolences to his family.
Larry Quanbeck
Long Beach, CA
Although I never had the pleasure of taking a class or even meeting Dr. Forde, I credit him for changing my life as a soon-to-be minister in the Church of Christ. It was his simple, yet radically profound, message of justification by FAITH ALONE that moved me from a struggling and timid student to a bold proclaimer of Christ and Him crucified. Dr. Forde is the one that explained, at least to me, of the radicalness of our Gospel and the depth of the love our God has for us. Thank you Dr. Forde, thank you and God Bless.
Craig Jason Nehring
Lauderdale, MN
Although I didn't have Dr. Forde as a teacher, his written work (especially on the theology of the cross) has been influencial in my work as a newly ordained parish pastor.  JESUS IS RISEN!
The Rev. Steven Woyen
First Lutheran, Strasburg, Ohio
To the one who helped me understand Theology of the Cross - never politically, economically, or ecclesiastically popular - especially under the current regimes ... but it is the way of Jesus:  thanks. Though I'm a failure at living it, at least now I know of what I need to repent when I'm on my knees. And, like you, Gerhard, I long for the "your sins are forgiven" of the absolution. May your memory be blessed.
Pr. Bob Lewis
fellow sinner

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