Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bo Giertz

(31 August 1905 in Räpplinge, Öland – 12 July 1998 in Gothenburg), was a Swedish Confessional Lutheran bishop and Christian novelist.

Giertz embraced the faith while studying medicine at the University of Uppsala and switched to theology. Ordained a priest in 1934, Giertz first served in youth work, then as an Associate Pastor (komminister) at Torpa (1938-1949). Largely due to his popular writings, such as The Hammer of God (in Swedish, Stengrunden), Giertz became the Bishop of the Göteborg (Gothenburg) Diocese in the Church of Sweden (1949-1970). This was a shock, due both to his young age (44) and position in the rural Torpa parish, as Swedish Bishops were routinely selected from among Cathedral Deans and University Chairmen of Theology.

Giertz' characteristic combination of the pietistic type of care of souls with his High Church Lutheran theology, which can also be noticed in his novels, made him listened beyond boundaries. It also made his novels as well as non-fictional books about Christian faith popular in all Scandinavia.

Most famous of his novels is The Hammer of God (Stengrunden, 1941). (Translated by Clifford Ansgar Nelson and Hans O. Andrae. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. Also appeared in 1960 and 1973).

After the Swedish parliament's and the Church Assembly's decision on the ordination of women in the Church of Sweden, Giertz became a leader of the opposition and took the initiative to form an organization called the Church Coalition for the Bible and Confession.

Giertz was a pioneer on advocating regular celebration of the Mass on Sundays, something that was not usual in the Church of Sweden at that time. He also strongly recommended ministers to regular prayer according to the Divine office; something he unerringly applied in his own devotional life.

Propers for Bo Harald Giertz - Novelist, Bishop and Confessor

The Collect.

Almighty God who didst turn the heart of thy servant Bo Giertz from the pursuits of this world to the service of thy Church and to confess the name of thine only begotten Son, we beseech thee to grant unto us similar focus and strength to serve thee, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Epistle - Hebrews 7:23-27.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 25:14-23.

Reference and Resources:


Bror Erickson said...

Didn't quite expect to see an Anglican talking about Bo Giertz, but it does make me happy. Just thought I'd let you know, there is a new book of his out in English now, "Then Fell the Lord's Fire." Which you can find through Magdeburg Press, or on Actually, the days are gone when all you could find of this man's work in English was "The Hammer of God." My friends and I have been working to get so much more of his stuff out to the public. To Live With Christ, is about the best devotional a person could ask for. His novel, The Knights of Rhodes, exploring the theology of the cross, has been available for a couple years, and I just finished a study guide for it available on Scribd. Also Christ's Church translated by my friend Hans Andrae. It is worth to search his name on Amazon.

Kevin said...

Thanks for the info on the new translations.

"The Hammer of God" was one of those books I could not put down, especially the last part. I will say no more about it as I hope more people will take the time to read the book.