Helmut Thielicke was one of the most read and most listened to theologians of our time. Like few others, he repeatedly came down from the ivory tower of academic religion in order to build bridges between the church and the world. He did not belong to Protestantism alone; his works were – and are still – closely followed in Catholic theology, discussed in dissertations and reviews, and published widely. In this autobiography, written in 1983, Thielicke sets forth his memoirs from a long and full life. His narrative is filled with deeply thoughtful reflections about the poignancy of life, told with a delightful humour that invites us into every story and encounter. Thielicke also introduces us to the figures he counted among his friends and acquaintances: Karl Barth, Konrad Adenauer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dwight Eisenhower, Helmut Kohl and Jimmy Carter.
Thielicke was a witness to many of the most significant events of our century; his life history is interwoven with the Kaiser period, the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Third Reich, a divided Germany, and the tumultuous 1960s. From the perspective of this single life we are afforded a broad and clear vision of the moments that have shaped the generation leading us into the twenty-first century.
Translated by David R. Law, this reprinted edition of Notes from a Wayfarer was published to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Helmut Thielicke’s death.
About the Author
Helmut Thielicke was one of the most outstanding preachers and theologians of the German Lutheran Church. Dismissed by the Nazi regime from his post of Professor of Theology at Heidelberg in 1940, he came to prominence in Stuttgart where, during the worst of the bombing raids and in spite of continuing Nazi opposition, he continued to preach to a congregation of several thousand each week.
After the war, he joined the faculty of the University of Tübingen as a Professor of Systematic Theology, later becoming Rector at the University of Hamburg, the first Protestant theologian to hold this position. During this time, he also became a world traveller, lecturing and preaching in the United States, South Africa, Australia and Latin America. He died in Hamburg in 1986.
Foreword by H. George Anderson
1. Childhood and Youth in Barmen, 1908-1928
2. Student and Assistant Days, 1928-1936
3. Professional Beginning in Heidelberg, 1936-1940
4. Maturation in Parish Ministry, 1940-1942
5. Dramatic Times in Stuttgart, 1942-1944
6. Our Time in Korntal as Refugees From the Bombing, 1944-1945
7. The Tübingen Years, 1945-1954
8. My First Decade in Hamburg, 1954-1964
9. Major Journeys in the 1950s
10. The Turbulent 1960s
11. The Student Revolt in University and Church
12. Into the Final Rounds
Select List of Publications in English
Endorsements and Reviews
Many people have the impression that German professors are remote figures, held in awe by their students. Professor Thielicke’s book should dispel this illusion. It is a very human and humble book, giving a straightforward account of growing up in pre-war Germany, of bearing faithful Christian witness under the Nazi regime, of suffering the hardships of war, all as the background to years of thinking and teaching on the nature of Christian faith. There is both pathos and humour here, a glimpse into life that was rich in the things that really matter.
John Macquarrie, Oxford University