In the Face of Death

Thielicke: Theologian, Preacher, Boundary Rider​

 “My theological work was always only a superstructure placed upon the experiences and sufferings of my life . . .” — Helmut Thielicke

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (Germany)

Pickwick Publications

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Review by Dr. Hanniel Strebel in GuDh 2/2019

Interview with Dr. Strebel in GuDh 2/2019 (in German)

Thielicke’s story is one of extraordinary circumstances. Especially as a young man, living through Germany’s darkest hour, he was time and again put on the brink of death by fatal sickness, Nazi oppression, and war. These experiences left an indelible mark on his worldview.

In this thoroughly researched study, Fabian F. Grassl takes a fresh and original look at Thielicke’s turbulent life through the specific lens of suffering and death. He paints an intimate portrait of a boundary rider whose theology uniquely developed in the face of death.

As a result, new light is cast on one of the outstanding theologians, ethicists, and preachers of the twentieth century. The reader is invited to explore a world of thought decidedly shaped by the “eschatological existence” of an intriguing personality; a flawed human being like the rest of us yet endowed with a fascinating theological prowess, taking his stand amongst Germany’s major historical upheavals of the last centenary.


“[An] exhaustively researched and carefully developed study … [an] excellent work.”
—Gilbert C. Meilaender, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture


“… the best introduction in English to this important theologian’s life and work.”
—Matthew L. Becker, Valparaiso University


“… rich with illuminating insights for those who seek to understand one of the most significant theologians of the last century.”
—John T. Pless, Concordia Theological Seminary


“… Grassl’s fine study sets an important benchmark for future work.”
—Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen


“Grassl has … done a great service to theology by bringing this highly contextual theologian back to life …”
—Timothy J. Wengert, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia


“… Grassl has provided a comprehensive and profound perspective on this amazing, durable and complex pastor and theologian who still has so much to say to us today.”
—Daryl McCarthy, European Academic Network and Cambridge Scholars Network