Hans-Werner Gensichen

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Hans-Werner Gensichen (born March 30, 1915 in Lintorf ; † March 26, 1999 in Heidelberg ) was a German theologian , missiologist and religious scholar and taught history of religion and missiology at Heidelberg University as a professor .


Hans-Werner Gensichen studied Protestant theology in Leipzig, Königsberg and Tübingen. He became a member of the Leipzig and Königsberg Wingolf as well as the Wingolfs connection Nibelungen to Tübingen . In 1950 he completed his habilitation in church history. From 1948 to 1952 he was a lecturer in church and mission history in Hamburg and at the same time theological employee of the German Evangelical Mission Council. From 1952 to 1957 he taught in Tranquebar and in Madras church and religious history in South India . From 1957 to 1980 he was professor for the history of religion and missiology in Heidelberg. From 1961 to 1964 Gensichen Africa was director of the Theological Training Fund (TEF) of the World Council of Churches , from 1965 to 1990 chairman of the German Society for Mission Studies ( DGMW) and from 1972 to 1974 first president of the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) .


Gensichen campaigned for the development and publication of contextual theologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as for an adequate determination of the relationship between mission and culture ; accordingly, he traced the mission history of recent times with different accents. He wrote numerous articles on Indian religious history. In his theological position, Gensichen differed from the salvation-historical line of Walter Freytag as well as from the Missio Dei theology that was ruling at his time , although he tried to mediate in principle : the latter he held against the human responsibility for bringing the gospel forward, which was not in God's own actions may disappear, Luther corrected the former by prioritizing faith over hope, without losing the relationship between both of them to the world: "Faith for the world" - that was the title of his most important theological work in 1971 - holds both together, even against them The fascination of a mission with a view to the end.

From the profound crisis of mission in the 20th century due to world wars and decolonization, Gensichen did not conclude that a new mission theology was impossible, but rather that it was necessary to continuously convey theory and practice in it. It should not become a justification for everything that happens in mission organizations and young churches, but neither should it, as Gensichen saw at work with Christiaan Johannes Hoekendijk , negate theological heights of the practice. Gensichen called the two essential elements of mission, its human and its divine aspect, based on Lesslie Newbigin, its “intention” and its “dimension”.

Gensichen saw hermeneutics as having an obligation in the mission in two places: on the one hand in the "hermeneutics of the mission", which can be deduced indirectly from the Scriptures, on the other hand in the encounter with those addressed by the mission; not only as an understanding of the foreign in its foreignness, but also as the transformation of the foreign "into the common, in which one does not remain what one was", for which Gensichen referred to Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics of the conversation. In relation to the ethically necessary dialogue between the religions, Gensichen distanced himself from polemically hasty claims to absoluteness as well as from the expectation of an overarching new truth that would only emerge from the dialogue.

Selected publications

  • The baptismal problem in the mission. Bertelsmann Verlag, Gütersloh 1951.
  • Modern Mission History. In: The Church in its History IV. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1961. (Also: 3rd, improved and supplemented edition 1976, ISBN 3-525-52383-1 ).
  • Believe for the world. Theological Aspects of Mission. Mohn Verlag, Gütersloh 1971, ISBN 3-579-04211-4 .
  • Mission and Culture. Collected Essays. Edited by Theo Sundermeier and Wolfgang Gern . Kaiser Verlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-459-01595-0 .
  • World religions and world peace. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985, ISBN 3-525-60620-6 .
  • Invitatio ad fraternitatem: 75 years of the German Society for Mission Studies (1918–1993) . Lit Verlag, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-89473-773-5 .


  • Fides per mundi vita: Mission theology today. Festschrift Hans-Werner Gensichen. Edited by Theo Sundermeier. Mohn Verlag, Gütersloh 1980, ISBN 3-579-04076-6 , pp. 322-330 (Contains: Bibliography Hans-Werner Gensichen).
  • Kook-il Han: Mission and Culture with Hans-Werner Gensichen. In: ders .: Mission and Culture in German Mission Studies of the 20th Century: Gerhard Rosenkranz, Hans-Werner Gensichen, Hans Jochen Margull and Werner Kohler. Erlanger Verlag for Mission and Ecumenism, Neuendettelsau 2011, ISBN 978-3-87214-357-0 , pp. 111–181, 329–330. (Zugl .: Heidelberg, Univ., Diss., 1997).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Complete directory of Wingolf, Lichtenberg (1991)