Friedensau Adventist University near Magdeburg in Germany and Bogenhofen Seminary in Austria, both institutions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, mourn the death of Johann (Hans) Heinz on January 27, 2021, in Braunau, Austria, at 91, as a result of a COVID-19 infection.
Hans Heinz, born on April 30, 1930, is considered the first important German-speaking Adventist systematic theologian, according to the Board of Trustees of Friedensau Adventist University. He was a theology teacher at Bogenhofen Seminary from 1957 to 1978; a lecturer in systematic theology and director of the former Marienhöhe Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Darmstadt, Germany, from 1982 to 1995; and a visiting lecturer at Friedensau Adventist University from 1991. He shaped several generations of Adventist pastors.
Stefan Höschele, dean of the Department of Theology at Friedensau, said that “by combining biblical doctrines and church history, which resulted in a keen systematic-theological analysis, his thinking, teaching, and writing in Adventism in the German-speaking regions is still unequaled.” His main areas of research were soteriology (the redemptive work of Christ), Martin Luther and Reformation studies, Catholic theology, and ecumenism.
Johannes Kovar, head of the library at Bogenhofen Seminary, called Heinz one of the “most important theologians of German-speaking Adventism.”
In 1990, Heinz founded the theological journal Spes Christiana, at Friedensau Adventist University. The total circulation of his books and writings, with translations into more than 20 languages, reached millions. According to Höschele, Heinz chose Philipp Jacob Spener’s words “Theology is a practical discipline” as his life’s motto.
His faithfulness to the Bible and the Adventist message informed and impacted his evangelistic passion. He believed that theologians and pastors are charged with helping people change their lives and follow Jesus. Until the end, he worked on theological questions and gladly shared his deep knowledge. Heinz retired in 1995 and lived with his wife in Braunau am Inn, in Austria.
This story was updated and corrected on March 10, 2021.