Sasse to Hebart, Christmas 1948

Due to the pressure of pastoral duties at this time of year, our regular posting schedule here at 'What Sasse Says' has been interrupted. In order to fill the void I am posting a fascinating letter Sasse wrote to Dr Siegfried Hebart in Australia in December, 1948. "Doc" Hebart, as he was affectionately known here by his students, completed his doctorate under Werner Elert at Erlangen before WWII and doubtless was known to Sasse from that period. He was later instrumental in bringing Sasse out to teach at Immanuel Seminary in Adelaide, where Hebart was Principal for many years. Sasse alludes to this development in his letter. Sasse also mentions developments in the American Lutheran Church following J. Michael Reu's death in 1944. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia and the ALC were in fellowship, and Dr Reu had been a correspondent with Sasse and also with many UELCA leaders (owing to political and geographical factors, during World War I and for some time after a pastor in Queensland served as treasurer for a mission in Papua New Guinea which the Iowa Synod supported and which Reu was deeply involved in).

This letter is Matthew Harrison's translation and was first posted on his blog (link provided in right hand column under 'Other On-Line Sasse Resources'). We hope Rev Harrison doesn't mind us repeating his posting here.


Prof. D. Hermann Sasse Erlangen, December 23, 1948[1]
Rathsberger Strasse 4

The Rev. Dr. Siegfried Hebart
Principal, Immanuel Theological Seminary
104 Jeffcott Street
North Adelaide

Highly Honored, Dear Brother Hebart!

As I wrote to Dr. Stolz, it was my intention as soon as I could to send you a Christmas greeting. But the great work load during the semester already ended because of the shortage of coal, and the terrible agitation which accompanied the fate of my students who are members of the Schwabach Convent, I failed to write. Thus you receive this greeting in the new year.

May this coming year be for you, your dear wife and for the entire Lutheran Church of Australia a blessed year, an Annus Domini in the deepest sense. If God wills, this year will bring us into the fellowship of work at your seminary. We have prepared ourselves should this be our last Christmas in Germany.

If I could wish only one thing for your church, then it is this, that you very clearly hold the course laid out for you by your origin and your history: to be a Lutheran church clear in Confession, and independent from the political powers of the world, ecumenical and confessionally true in the sense of the 7th article of the Augsburg Confession, in oder to face the great questions of modern humanity.

That is the deep distress of our American sister churches, that they either live in a ghetto or that they sink into modernistic Americanism. I am deeply troubled over the development of the ULC in respect to theology since the dismissal and death of Knubel. What has occurred in Maywood, Springfield and Mount Airy, which I have visited again, can only cause concern for the future of these important branches of American Lutheranism. And in the ALC the decline is evident since Reu’s death. Bodensieck has taken his place. He’s a dear man but in respect to dogmatics he advocates a Lutheranism which hailed the completely unionistic decisions of Treysa II as a miracle of the Holy Spirit…. You can inquire of Behnken or Elert, if you hear any political slander about me

Your faithful, H. Sasse


[1] Huss/Feuerhahn Collection. Trans. Matthew Harrison.


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