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Former LCMS President Bohlmann enters eternal rest

July 27, 2016 No Comment
LCMS President Ralph A. Bohlmann

LCMS President Ralph A. Bohlmann

ST LOUIS , Missouri – On July 24, 2016 Rev. Dr. Ralph A. Bohlmann was received into eternal rest at the age of 84. Dr. Bohlmann had served as President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) from 1981-1992, and was the first to be given the title President Emeritus.

A funeral service was held Wednesday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. on the campus of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

Prior to serving as LCMS President, Dr. Bohlmann served as President of Concordia Seminary from 1975-1981, after having served as professor of systematic theology there since 1960. Dr. Bohlmann was one of five seminary faculty members who remained on the faculty during the confessional crisis over the authority of Scripture there in 1975, which resulted in the walkout of multiple faculty and students. Under his leadership, the school focused on resolving differences and encouraging doctrinal integrity. By the time his presidency came to an end, the seminary population was greater than that prior to the confessional crisis.

LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison expressed the synod’s deep gratefulness to President Emeritus Bohlmann. “Ralph is the last of the faithful who stood against the faculty majority for the truth of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions,” President Harrison told the LCMS Reporter. “The Synod is deeply indebted to Dr. Bohlmann,” he added, “and all these years later, we can hardly imagine the difficulties and trials which faced the men who were faithful. Dr. Bohlmann was resolute on these issues to the end.”

In addition to service as President of the LCMS and President of Concordia Seminary, Dr. Bohlmnan served as Executive Secretary of the church’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) from 1971-1974. He also served on the CTCR  as a member from 1965-1971 and 1975-1981.

Dr. Bohlmann was the author of “A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles,” a document which helped to ensure doctrinal fidelity in the seminary. It was later adopted by the LCMS in convention as a clear explanation of the Lutheran teaching on the authority of Scripture. Throughout his ministry, he was the author of a number of other books and articles, including Principles of Biblical Interpretation in the Lutheran Confessions. He also represented the synod in ecumenical dialogue with other church bodies.

During his tenure as LCMS President, Dr. Bohlmann oversaw the Canadian church’s move to independence. At the 1986 LCMS Convention which voted on the transition, President Bohlmann noted the great fellowship between American and Canadian Lutherans. “We pledge our love,” he told the delegates of Lutheran Church–Canada that day, “The Lord of Faith in Jesus Christ is deeper than the devices of borders. We will continue the bond of faith and confession we have as Christ’s people. We will continue to consult with each other and continue a deep and meaningful worship in the work of the church. We do so with a note of joy.”

President Emeritus Bohlmann is survived by two children Paul (New York City) and Lynn (Jacksonville, Illinois), as well as two grandchildren. Dr. Bohlmann’s wife, Pat, entered into glory in 2012.

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This article incorporates material from news releases from both Concordia Seminary and the LCMS.