George Forell

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George Wolfgang Forell
In 2008
Born (1919-09-19) 19 September 1919 (age 97)
Breslau, Germany
Nationality American
Education TH.B. (1941), TH.D. (1949)
Alma mater Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary
Occupation Theologian, Scholar, Philosopher, Author, Lecturer
Known for Lutheranism, Christian ethics
Religion Lutheran
Spouse(s) Elizabeth (née Rossing) Forell
Children Madeleine
Parent(s) Friedrich and Maria (nèe Kretschmar) Forell
Relatives Gotthold Karl Johannnes Forell (brother, died 1961)

George Wolfgang Forell (September 19, 1919 – April 29, 2011[1][2]) was the Carver Distinguished Chair of Religion in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa.[3] He was a world-renowned scholar, author, lecturer, and guest professor in the field of Christian ethics.

Early life and education[edit]

Forell was born on September 19, 1919 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). His father was Frederik J. Forell, co-founder of The Christian Social Services. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Vienna. In 1939 he came to the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany. He enrolled at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia as a student in theology. He graduated in 1941 and was ordained as a Lutheran minister the same year. While serving as a parish pastor, he continued his education at Princeton Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. In 1949 he received a Th.D. from Union Theological Seminary.

Academic career[edit]

Forell joined Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, as a Professor of Philosophy in 1949. In 1954 he moved to the University of Iowa as Professor of Religion. In 1958–59 he served as guest-professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He was Director of the Department of Religious Studies at The University of Iowa from 1966 to 1971. In 1973, he was named Carver Distinguished Professor of Religion. Forell is a past president of the American Society for Reformation Research. Forell has also served as a Professor of Systematic Theology at the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maywood, Illinois (now part of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) After his retirement from the University of Iowa in 1989 he lectured for extended periods of time in seminaries in Tokyo, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other academic institutions in Asia and Europe.

Family and personal life[edit]

In 1945 he married Elizabeth Rossing in Argyle, Wisconsin. They have two daughters, Dr. Madeleine Forell Marshall and The Reverend Mary Forell Davis, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He lived in Iowa City on Bella Vista Place. Jason Kerber and Lori Rath provided house sitting services for him during the 1994-95 school year while Mr. Forell was a visiting professor at the GTU in Berkeley, CA.


He received honorary degrees from Gustavus Adolphus College, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Luther College and Upsala College. In 1984, a Festschrift, "Piety, Politics and Ethics", edited by Carter Lindberg, was published by the Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc. Forell was named the distinguished alum for 2002 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.[4]

Published works[edit]

  • "Faith Active in Love", 1954
  • "Ethics of Decision", 1956
  • "The Protestant Faith", 1960
  • "Understanding the Nicene Creed",1965
  • "History of Christian Ethics" 1975
  • "Martin Luther, Theologian of the Church: Collected Essays", 1994


  1. ^ "Obiltuaries". The Gazette. 
  2. ^ "Obiltuaries". Lensing Funeral Service, Iowa City. 
  3. ^ "The danger of thinking we are really holy". Leader-Post. 19 March 1983. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "Distinguished alum for 2002". from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.