Gensichen, Hans-Werner (1915-1999)

German Protestant missiologist

Born in Lintorf, Germany, Gensichen came from a family of ministers and missionaries. He obtained his doctorate and qualified as a university lecturer (1950) in church history at Göttingen. In the missiological field he regarded Walter Freytag as his mentor, but more important for his missiological thinking was his activity in India (1952-1957), where he taught in theological colleges at Tranquebar and Madras. From 1957 until his retirement in 1983, he held the newly established chair of history of religions and missiology in the faculty of theology at the University of Heidelberg, interrupted by three years’ work for the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches (1961-1964). Here, as secretary for a special Africa program, he fostered theological training on the African continent and contributed to developing the concept of contextual theology. Gensichen was not only a successful teacher with whom students from all over the world came to study, but he also served on many missiological and ecumenical boards. Among other things he was from 1965 to 1991 president of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Missionswissenschaft (German Society for Missiology) and founding member and first president (1972-1974) of the International Association for Mission Studies. He published numerous works in comparative religion and particularly in mission history. His missiological legacy is reflected in his main work, Glaube für die Welt: Theologische Aspekte der Mission (1971). Gensichen always presents missiology in its historical context, believing that only in continuity and dialogue with history can the church accomplish its task in the world. For him, mission is the decisive dimension of the life of the worldwide church. To highlight all facets of mission with a view to practical application has been the lifelong goal of his scholarly work.

Theo Sundermeier, “Gensichen, Hans-Werner,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 238.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.



Beyreuther, Erich, Hans-Werner Gensichen and Samuel G. Lang. Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg: A Biography of the First Protestant Missionary in India 1682 – 1719. Madras: Christian Literature Society, 1956.

Frohnes, Heinzgünter, Hans-Werner Gensichen and Georg Kretschmar. Kirchengeschichte als Missionsgeschichte. München: Chr. Kaiser, 1974.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner. “The Unity of the Church in Christ.” Lutheran World, no. 3 (Dec 1957): 233-41 and Lutherische Rundschau, no. 2 (Nov 1957): 244-51.

_____. “Die Einheit der Kirche in Christus.” Zeichen der Zeit: Evangelische Monatschriftf für Mitarbeiter der Kirche, no. 3 (1958): 89-95.

_____. “Auf dem Wege zu einer indischen Theologie. Ein Bericht.” Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 1 no. 2 (1959): 326-49.

_____. Missionsgeschichte der neuren Zeit. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1961; 1963; 1976.

_____. Afrikanische Universitäten. Heidelberg: n.p., 1964.

_____. Living Mission: The Test of Faith. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.

_____. “Joint Action for Mission in Relation to Confession.” International Review of Mission 56 no. 221 (1967): 87-98.

_____. “Second Vatican Council’s Challenge to Protestant Mission.” International Review of Mission 56 (July 1967): 291-309.

_____. We Condemn: How Luther and 16th-century Lutheranism Condemned False Doctrine. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, [1967].

_____. Glaube für die Welt: Theologische Aspekte der Mission. Gütersloh: G. Mohn, 1971.

_____. “From Minneapolis 1957 to Jakarta 1975: Variations on an Ecumenical Theme.” Ecumenical Review 26 no. 4 (1974): 469-82.

_____. “Krieg und Friede in den Weltreligionen.” Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 36 no. 1 (1984): 6-20.

_____. Weltreligion und Weltfriede. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985.

_____. “Mission for Hope – Hope for Mission: A Missiological Meditation.” Mission Studies 5 no. 1 (1988): 15-21.

_____. “My Pilgrimage in Mission.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 13 (1989): 167-9.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner and Gerhard Rosenkranz. Beiträge zur biblischen Theologie. München: Kaiser, 1967.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner, Theo Sundermeier and Wolfgang Gern. Mission und Kulture: Gesammelte Aufätze. München: Kaiser, 1985.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner, Bengt Sundkler, Josef Glazik, R. Pierce Beaver, Donald A. McGavran, Hans Jochen Margull and Max Alexander Cunningham Warren. European Consultation on Mission Studies at the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, 16-19 April 1968. Birmingham: n.p., 1968. In the David Allen Hubbard Library of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, USA.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner, Georg F. Vicedom and Gerhard Rosenkranz. Theologische Stimmen aus Asien, Afrika und Latinamerika. Muenchen: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1965.

Gensichen, Hans-Werner and Nicolas Zernov. The Elements of Ecumenism. [Madras]: Christian Literature Society, [1954].

González, Justo L., Anneliese Gensichen and Hans-Werner Gensichen.Mañana: Theologie aus der Sicht der Hispanics Nordamerikas. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994.

Müller, Karl and Hans-Werner Gensichen. Missionstheologie: Eine Einführung. Berlin: Reimer, 1985.

Müller, Karl, Hans-Werner Gensichen and Horst Rzepkowski. Mission Theology: An Introduction. Nettetal: Steyler Verlag – Wort und Werk, 1987.

Thomas, M. M., Anneliese Gensichen and Hans-Werner Gensichen. Christus im neuen Indien: Reform-Hinduismus und Christentum. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989.


Becken, Hans-Jürgen, Theo Sundermeier and Bernward H. Willeke (eds.). Fides pro mundi vita: Missionstheologie heute. Festschrift Hans-Werner Gensichen zum 65. Geburstag. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn, 1980.

Wrogemann, Henning. “Bibliographie der Werke Hans-Werner Gensichen (1980-1994). Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft 79 (1995): 183-8.