Theological #ThrowbackThursday: Oswald Hoffmann

Oswald HoffmannThis lecture from the middle-aged Oswald “Ossie” Hoffmann was delivered in 1963 during a Missions Institute. Dr. Hoffmann had just returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had visited the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the African Lutheran church body. Today our faculty is regularly invited to guest lecture in this same place.

Dr. Hoffmann points out early in his lecture the importance of Africa in the history of Christianity. He notes that St. Mark was said to have visited there and that the continent produced some of the church’s best and brightest theologians, namely Augustine and Athanasius (and had I been present at this lecture you might have heard me speak up for Tertullian too!).

One of the most fascinating takeaways from this lecture for me is Hoffmann’s emphasis on understanding the context. He defines a theologian as one who is particularly capable of taking the church’s unchanging confession of the truth and interpreting and translating it into particular contexts with pastoral sensitivity and discernment. How exactly this happens is a challenging topic and one worthy of much discussion between those in the mission field and theologians of the one, holy, Christian, and apostolic church. Nevertheless, Dr. Hoffmann stresses the critical importance of this skill for the missionary.

Have a listen to the fourth Speaker of The Lutheran Hour and his bold confession of Christ for the sake of the mission.

About this series: Throughout history, God’s people have been eager to learn His Word. We have record of this in the biblical writings which were addressed to these people, copied by scribes, and published by printing presses down to the present day. We are grateful that the Holy Spirit used the technologies of the alphabet, writing, and printing to preserve the word concerning Christ and to deliver it anew to each succeeding generation. In addition to the Holy Scriptures, the church has treasured the writings of the teachers of the church, great servants of the Word like Irenaeus, Augustine, Luther, and Walther. Their writings have come down to us also through the pen and printing press. But in these latter days, we also give thanks for sound recordings and videos which deliver the Word of God to His people.  Concordia Seminary Library has well over a thousand such recordings on cassettes, CDs, and video tapes. Now, thanks to the Generations Campaign and generous donations which continue to come in, we are able to digitize these historic recordings and offer them to the people of God at no charge. Over the next weeks and months here at, we will highlight a few of these treasures of the church and show you where to find gobs more. We’ll hear from Scharlemann, Sasse, Franzmann, Piepkorn, Pelikan, J.A.O. and Robert Preus, Caemmerer, Hummel, Brighton, and Feuerhahn among many others. This will be Concordia Seminary’s contribution to social media’s Throwback Thursday.

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  1. Douglas Rutt October 29, 2016

    Great stuff. Thanks for making this known–really he was prophetic. Today we operate in ethiopia and have been doing so for 20 years. A minor point, Dr. Hoffmann was the 4th Lutheran Hour Speaker.

    • Travis Scholl October 31, 2016

      Thanks, Doug, for the correction. We made the change.

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