Friday, April 21, 2006

R.I.P., The Rev. Dr. James Burtness

Our heavenly Father has seen fit to welcome into his Kingdom his servant James Burtness. Burtness was long-time (and I mean long-time!) professor of theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. His death is a loss to the Church on earth, which can use all the same theologians it can get.

I didn't know Professor Burtness well; I've read some of his books, and we had a couple of very nice conversations about Bonhoeffer and about theological education in contemporary America. I regret not getting to know him better; he had so much to offer. He was inspiring: his scholarship on Bonhoeffer was ahead of his time and his lectures on theology in which "gasp-pel" figured prominently (I listened to tapes while I was in my parish in Fargo) are simply a couple of things to which I can point -- not to mention his role in establishing dialog, a singularly impressive and important theology journal in its time (since it was taken from Jenson and Braaten and subsequently turned over to Blackwells to publish, I neither care nor can afford to read it).

For what it's worth, I offer condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and students. Here is a local obituary.

Eternal rest, grant him, oh Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.

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