George A. Lindbeck, 1946 B.D., 1955 Ph.D.

2004Distinction in Theological Education

George A. Lindbeck, the Pitkin Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at Yale and mentor to generations of YDS students over a teaching career that spanned more than four decades, was presented with the Alumni Award for Distinction in Theological Education.

Lindbeck, a prominent Lutheran theologian and major player in ecumenical relations, earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1946 and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University in 1955.

Born in 1923, the son of Lutheran missionaries in China, Lindbeck came to the U.S. when he was 17. He earned his undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. In presenting the award, Alvord Beardslee, '53 B.D, '55 S.T.M., pointed to Lindbeck's contributions to ecumenical theology as a lasting legacy, calling Lindbeck �a major teacher of major teachers.� For his part, Lindbeck told the audience, �There is nothing that moves a teacher more than to have a student say they learned something from them.� He cited fellow Yale professors Hans Frei, Paul Holmer and David Kelsey as major influences on his thought.

From 1951 until 1993, Lindbeck taught at the Divinity School and in the University's Department of Religious Studies. His ecumenical activities included service as a delegated observer of the Lutheran World Federation at the Second Vatican Council. He also was a member of the national and international Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogue groups from their beginnings until his retirement from the Lutheran co-chairmanship of the international group in 1987.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a recipient of the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association, and holds seven honorary doctorates from the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books, including The Nature of Doctrine (1984) and, most recently, The Church in a Postliberal Age (2002). He lives in West Burke, VT.