Edmund Schlink

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Edmund Schlink (born March 6, 1903 in Darmstadt , † May 20, 1984 in Heidelberg ) was a German Protestant theologian . From 1946 to 1971 he was professor for systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg .


Edmund Schlink, who grew up in a family with a strong focus on natural sciences - his father was the physicist Wilhelm Schlink - began in 1922 to study mathematics , philosophy , psychology and various scientific subjects with a focus on physics at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen , which he soon started studying at University of Munich , then at the University of Kiel and the University of Vienna . In 1927 he did his doctorate at the University of Marburg with the psychological work Personality Change in Conversions and Depression to a Dr. phil. Schlink had switched to theology as early as 1926; He completed his theology studies in 1931 with a doctorate on the natural knowledge of God at the University of Münster . After the vicariate he became parish assistant in Buchschlag and Sprendlingen and in autumn 1932 university pastor at the Technical University of Darmstadt .

In 1934 he completed his habilitation at the University of Giessen . As a leading member of the Confessing Church , he was not allowed to teach at a state university during National Socialism , but taught at the Bethel Theological School near Bielefeld between 1935 and 1939 . He then worked as a pastor at the Marienkirche in Dortmund , then at St. Reinoldi and finally at the Neustädter Marienkirche in Bielefeld as well as in the travel service of the Confessing Church. In 1945 he was appointed director of the preacher's seminary of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia (at that time in Brackwede ), but in 1946 he accepted a position as professor of systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg , where he soon set up the first ecumenical institute at a German university. In the years 1953–1954 he was rector of the University of Heidelberg.

Schlink was a delegate of the General Assemblies of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948 , Evanston in 1954, New Delhi in 1961 and Uppsala in 1968. From 1962 to 1965, as the official rapporteur of the Evangelical Church in Germany at the Second Vatican Council, he was a competent interlocutor of the Council Fathers.

In 1971 Schlink retired.

Edmund Schlink was from 1952 to 1984 co-editor of the Ökumenische Rundschau and from 1955 to 1984 co-editor of the journal Kerygma und Dogma .

Schlink's estate with letters, circulars, lecture schedules, files on the second Vatican, curriculum vitae, certificates, etc. Ä. can be found - mostly without signatures - in the archives of the Evangelical Union in Bensheim .


His father Wilhelm Schlink (1875–1968) was a professor of mechanics at the Technical University of Braunschweig , his sister Klara (1904–2001) founded the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Darmstadt in 1947 together with Erika Madauss .

Edmund Schlink was married to Elisabeth Winkelmann for the first time since 1932, who died in May 1936. The two daughters Johanna and Dorothea emerged from the marriage. In 1938 he married the Basel theologian Irmgard Oswald (1914–2006). This connection comes from the art historian Wilhelm Schlink (1939–2018) and the lawyer and writer Bernhard Schlink (* 1944). His daughter Dorothea (1935–2019) was the wife of the former regional bishop of Baden and council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Klaus Engelhardt .


As an academic theological teacher, Edmund Schlink has supervised numerous dissertations and habilitations. His student group includes:


Edmund Schlink was honored with three honorary doctorates :

Publications (selection)

  • The question of the recognizability of divine action in history. Public trial lecture on the habilitation for systematic and practical theology at the University of Giessen, held on July 24, 1934 , in: Evangelische Theologie 1 (1934), pp. 257-278.
  • Duty and temptation of Christian confession. Lecture to Protestant students from all faculties of the University of Bonn in Godesberg a. Rh. On December 2, 1934 (= Theological Existence today , issue 20). Chr. Kaiser, Munich 1935.
  • Law and gospel. A contribution to the Lutheran understanding of the second Barmer thesis (= Theological Existence Today , Issue 53). Chr. Kaiser, Munich 1937.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ and Temptation. Lecture to the Protestant-theological student council of the University of Basel 1938 (= Theological Existence today , issue 59). Chr. Kaiser, Munich 1938.
  • Theology of the Lutheran Confessions. Munich 1940.
  • Confessing Church and World. Lectures and sermons from the years 1934 to 1945 (= The Christian Germany 1933–1945 . Documents and testimonies . Evangelical series, issue 10). Furche, Tübingen 1947; therein u. a .:
    • The proclamation of the Church in war. Lecture at a leisure time of Schleswig-Holstein pastors in Breklum (spring 1940) , pp. 54–68.
    • Death as our past. Sermon in the Marienkirche in Dortmund (1941) , pp. 98-102.
    • Our denial. Sermon in the Neustädter Marienkirche in Bielefeld on the Day of Repentance and Prayer in 1942 , pp. 89–94.
    • The Passion of Jesus Christ and the World. Lecture given in Bielefeld (1943) , pp. 68–89.
    • Christ loosens the seals. Sermon at a Kirchentag in Westhofen (1943) , pp. 103-107.
    • Woe to us! Sermon on the Day of Repentance and Prayer in 1943 in the Neustädter Marienkirche in Bielefeld , pp. 94–98.
    • The heavenly liturgy. Sermon to the remnants of the Neustädter Mariengemeinde in Bielefeld after the destruction of the church (1944) , pp. 107–112.
    • Grace in God's judgment. From sermons given in the Neustädter Mariengemeinde in Bielefeld in the months of the German collapse (summarized and concluded at Pentecost 1945) , pp. 112-139.
  • Grace in God's judgment . C. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1946.
  • The result of the church struggle . C. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1947.
  • The doctrine of baptism. Kassel 1969.
  • The Pope's vision. Narrative. Göttingen / Graz 1975, ISBN 3-87297-130-1 .
  • Ecumenical dogmatics. Main features. 2nd Edition. 1985, ISBN 3-525-56165-2 .

On the occasion of Edmund Schlink's 100th birthday, the edition of Writings on Ecumenism and Confession has been published since 2004 with the following titles and detailed accompanying words by renowned Schlink experts:

  • Vol. 1: The Coming Christ and the Church Traditions. After the council. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-56701-4 . With a biographical introduction by Jochen Eber
  • Vol. 2: Ecumenical dogmatics. Main features. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-525-56186-5 . Accompanying word by Michael Plathow
  • Vol. 3: The Doctrine of Baptism. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-56935-1 . Accompanying word by Peter Zimmerling
  • Vol. 4: Theology of the Lutheran Confessions. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-56716-6 . Accompanying word by Günther Gaßmann
  • Vol. 5: Selected Articles. Church struggle - Basic theological questions - Ecumenism. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-525-56718-0 . Accompanying word from Ursula Schnell


  • Jochen Eber:  Edmund Schlink. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 9, Bautz, Herzberg 1995, ISBN 3-88309-058-1 , Sp. 289-298.
  • Katrin Bosse:  Schlink, Edmund. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , p. 90 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Gerhard Schwenzer : The great deeds of God and the church. On Edmund Schlink's ecclesiology. Paderborn 1969.
  • Jochen Eber: Unity of the church as a dogmatic problem with Edmund Schlink. Göttingen 1993, ISBN 3-525-56274-8 .
  • Gottfried Michaelis and Andreas Lindemann: Teaching and studying in Bethel 1934 to 1946. Bielefeld 1999.
  • Wilfried Joest , Wolfhart Pannenberg (ed.): Dogma and thought structures. Edmund Schlink with admiration and gratitude on his sixtieth birthday. Goettingen 1963.
  • Eugene M. Skibbe: Edmund Schlink - confessor in the church struggle - teacher of the church - pioneer of ecumenism. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2009.
  • Matthew L. Becker, "Christ in the University: Edmund Schlink's Vision," The Cresset 80 (Easter 2017), 12-21
  • Matthew L. Becker, "Edmund Schlink (1903–1984)," in Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians, ed. Mark Mattes, 195–222 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013)

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