Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Rev. Dr. Kurt Marquart, RIP

Many Lutherans in the U.S. and around the world are saddened by the death of a professor, theologian, pastor, and friend, the Rev. Prof. Kurt Marquart.

While I'm not of a generation to call Dr. Marquart a friend or colleague (in fact, I could never bring myself to call him by his first name after I was ordained), I have a great deal of respect and affection for my former professor (who now stands in the dazzling eternal presence of our Lord Himself!). I studied the Lutheran Confessions with the good doctor, and took as many electives from him as I could. His course on apologetics was one that should have been a requirement (he had a very balanced presentation, one that fell into neither ditch of apologetics as capable of arguing a person into the faith, nor its opposite (too often posited among Lutherans) that apologetics are useless.

Dr. Marquart's teaching style was enthralling. It was simply a joy to listen to him lecture. He was a poet and a master with what was at least his third language. In fact, it was not uncommon to hear him chattering with international students in what seemed to be about a half dozen languages. Dr. Marquart was a one man Pentecost!

He was a teacher of keen intellect, who could articulate the most complex intricacies of dogmatic theology, but who could at the same time crack jokes, use slang, and reduce difficult concepts into humorous examples. Dr. Marquart had a special charism to teach. He not only taught seminarians at Fort Wayne, but also taught seminarians and pastors around the world in a number of languages. This was clearly a vocation he loved, and which he continued to ply even when grave physical illness made it nearly impossible to carry out.

And when you wanted to speak with him in private, it was as though all time and space came to a screeching halt. You were his best friend, and he would patiently answer questions and listen to whatever you were bringing to his attention. He was always kind, compassionate, and gentle - while at the same time, firm in his convictions.

It was often said he would never turn away a stray cat (or a stray seminarian). His good works always served the seminary community well as examples of how the Christian life is lived out - though I'm sure he would be embarrassed to read such a thing about himself.

Dr. Marquart was at ease in intellectural circles, with dignitaries, with children, at vast conferences, and at the Pizza Hut. He was truly a "man for all seasons."

Most importantly, Dr. Marquart was a pastor and a preacher, a proclaimer of the Gospel and a minister of the mysteries of God. On the last day of his life on this side of the grave, he baptized his great-grandson. He never forgot his primary calling as a pastor. And as a pastor to future pastors, his work lives on through those of us whom he taught. His ministry thus continues to serve us poor miserable sinners in the Church Militant, even as he is now a saint made perfect singing the praises of God in the Church Triumphant!

Requiescat in pace. "Ait illi dominus ejus euge bone serve et fidelis quia super pauca fuisti fidelis super multa te constituam intra in gaudium domini tui!"


Trevor Sprott said...

Pastor MARQUART confirmed me at redeemer Lutheran church in Neil street toowoomba QLD Australia top man

Maddogmatt said...

What a beautiful summation of his life, and how accurate! He was my pastor in Toowoomba during my formative years.
Matthew Buck