Dr. Nagel on Issues Etc. this Afternoon! by Pr. Rossow

Issues Etc. is airing an interview with Dr. Norman Nagel that took place earlier this week in the care facility where he currently resides. Show host Todd Wilken and producer Jeff Scwharz took recording equipment to the nursing home to capture the interview.

Dr. Nagel is a beloved theological mentor for many pastors of the LCMS. He taught at Concordia Seminary – St. Louis in the 80’s, 90’s and even up until the last few years until he  suffered a stroke.

My most startling memory of Dr. Nagel occured when I and my classmates returned from vicarage in 1984. We were riding high on our Lutheran theological horses and figured we owned the spiritual world. That was soon to change. Many of us ended up taking a class on Luther Studies with a new professor – Dr. Norman Nagel. The class was so enlightening that many of us remarked after a few weeks that we were not sure we were even Lutheran up until this chance encounter with this most fascinating and brilliant Lutheran theologian. We all finished out our final year taking as  many classes as possible from our new mentor.

Dr. Nagel is not only the most influential theologian with which I have had the privelege to study,  but is also the kindest and most Christ-like gentleman I have ever known.

The interview will be aired in the second hour of the program this afternoon. We encourage you to listen.




About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Dr. Nagel on Issues Etc. this Afternoon! by Pr. Rossow — 15 Comments

  1. If this is a place to share fond Dr. Nagel stories, I have one from my fourth year in 1999. Dr. and Mrs. Nagel had moved away from their campus home and Mrs. Nagel was travelling, leaving Dr. Nagel without transportation to the seminary. I was taking a class on Christology from Dr. Nagel (a brilliant course BTW). He asked the class if someone could give him a ride to school the next day. I lived off campus and said that I could pick him up. We worked out when and where and I showed up at his place the next morning. He invited me in and still had a few things to do. He offered me a cup of coffee while I waited and fixed me a piece of toast with Vegemite on it. I sat at his kitchen table, drinking coffee and eating toast with Vegemite with one of my favorite professors. I’m so happy to hear that he is able to do an interview with Todd and Jeff.

    The class on Christology was priceless. The 8 or 9 students selected different names/titles for Jesus (Lamb of God, Savior, Son of Man etc) and were given to job to tell why the name/title made the enemies of Jesus so mad. Then Dr. Nagel would supplement all that we had missed. It was so good.


  2. Many fond and sometimes humorous memories. My copy of “Selected Sermons” is nearly worn out from reading and re-reading. Much of the pleasure of reading his works is in having heard Dr. Nagle speak. As I recall he was in high demand around Christmastime to read the Nativity story from the King James Bible.

  3. I like it – let’s turn this into a Nagel memories string. Here is another of mine.

    A few years after I left Emmanuel, Dearborn – Michigan, Pastor Rod Zwonitzer hosted Dr. Nagel at the annual St. Matthias Day conference on the Holy Ministry. Dr. Nagel stayed at the parsonage with Rod. Dr. Nagel was staying in the bedroom in the basement. A few minutes after he retired for the evening, he came back upstairs and informed Rod that “there were no signs of civilization” in the basement. Rod looked at him quizzicaly and then Dr. Nagel repeated his statement: “I hate to be a bother but there are no signs of civilization in the basement.” It finally dawned on Rod that he forgot to put toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom.

    Just one of the many reasons we love Dr. Nagel – he has a unique and elegant way of expressing even the most mundane matters.


  4. Off the top of my head, our dear teacher was
    Born in China to Missionary Parents.
    Student at Adelaide and then St. Louis.
    Pastor at Luther-Tyndale Church in London.
    Preceptor of Westfield House, Cambridge, England
    PhD from Cambridge.
    Dean of the Chapel and Campus Preacher, Valpo 1969-83
    Professor of Systematic Theology at St. Louis 1983-present, Emeritus.
    Betsy’s Husband.
    Doctor of the Church, Father in Christ to many sons.

  5. Ben, that is a nice way to phrase it- “Father in Christ to many sons”. I’d like to think I have a couple of dads then. And God willing, I’m a worthy parent to a few children of God.

  6. @Todd Wilken #5

    Thank you for doing this.

    I heard him any number of times in the old IE days.

    I cannot imagine that I ever would have heard him without IE.

    A number of us lay-people love him too, through his appearances on the show.

    Do you have any idea how many times he was on?

  7. Dr. Nagel is a great blessing and I’m sure I would never have known about him if it weren’t for Issues, Etc.

    Younger pastors in the LCMS tend to have a common preaching style: direct, concise, close to the text, clear presentation of law and gospel. No jokes, illustrations, anecdotes or gimmicks. How much of this style is directly or indirectly attributable to Nagel’s influence?

    I know that Nagel is not the only professor to teach homiletics this way, but it seems that the impact that he has had on what we hear on Sunday morning is huge.

  8. Sadly, due to course constrictions, and emeritus status, I was never able to have a class with Dr. Nagel. But I did hear a good story once:

    The students were coming into the classroom, and Dr. Nagel was on his hands and knees in the corner. The gents were a bit confused, but it was Dr. Nagel after all, so they let him be and took there seats. Things began to get a little awkward after the entire class had a arrived and he hadn’t moved. He seemed to be looking for something.

    At last, one brave young man said, “Dr. Nagel, can we help you? Are you looking for something?”

    With out taking his nose out of the corner where he searched, he replied, “If our Lord is not in the Sacraments of the Altar, where *does* one begin looking for for him?”


    It may be apocryphal, but it is made an impression on me. 🙂

  9. Revfisk –

    That reminds me of another incident of floor-gazing, one that I know is not apocryphal because I was there.

    In the Christology class that I took with Nagel, he was making a point about the false ladder theology of Rome, i.e. that we must climb to God through our pennance. He then disappeared from sight and was down on the floor making a mark on the floor-board. The little “x” he drew was to teach us that Christ has come all the way down to where we are, in our flesh, to save us.


  10. I had some GREAT professors at CTS but I do have to confess that I wish I would have had the blessing of taking classes from Dr. Nagel too! I hear all sorts of stories like this from friends who were students of his and to a man they all love him — personally, but especially for his teaching of the faith. Would that we had more and more like him.

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