The Pastoral Character of Herman Bezzel

Translated and adapted by Matthias G. Hohls



Hermann Bezzel (1861–1917) was an influential Bavarian Lutheran churchman shaped by the confessional awakening associated with Erlangen. Unfortunately he is as yet little known in the English-speaking world. He served as the rector of the deaconess institution at Neuendettelsau from 1891 to 1909, when he became bishop of the Bavarian Church. He held this position until he died of an illness acquired while visiting German troops on the front lines in World War I. Bezzel is often cited positively by Hermann Sasse and J. Michel Reu as an outstanding voice for confessionalism over and against calls for theological diversity in the Lutheran Church. Nine devotional excerpts from Bezzel’s writings appear in John Doberstein’s Minister’s Prayer Book (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986). Bezzel was known as a strong and courageous preacher of repentance who did not fail to deliver the comfort and consolation of the gospel to the broken. He is remembered for his accent on the “condescension of God” by way of the theology of the cross. This 1938 essay by Johannes Rupprecht (1884–1964) takes its place alongside Reu’s “Hermann Bezzel: Aspects of His Life for our Time” as a worthy introduction to the pastoral theology of this significant Lutheran.—John T. Pless