Author Interview: Bror Erickson

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Rev. Bror Erickson serves as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Farmington, New Mexico. He graduated from Concordia University Irvine in 2000 where he studied apologetics under Dr. Rosenbladt, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 2004. He likes to translate the works of Bo Giertz and Hermann Sasse. He also enjoys writing reviews for and critiquing modern culture with the Gospel.

Q. What got you into translating Bo Giertz?

I first read “The Hammer of God” By Bo Giertz.  My dad handed me a copy when he was visiting me in Rome. I was stationed in Italy with the Air Force at the time and contemplating becoming a pastor. I thought the book was phenomenal and couldn’t understand why such a genius had not written anything else. I couldn’t find anything at the time anyway. Later, when I was at seminary I decided to learn Swedish. Another Swedish speaking pastor, Eric Andrae, found out about the little Swedish study group I belonged to and told us about the untranslated works of Bo Giertz. At first I ordered his devotionals “To Believe in Christ” and “To Live With Christ” (later published as one volume “To Live with Christ”)  and began reading them for my morning devotions as a way to practice reading Swedish. But I did not think it would be in line with Christian love and charity to keep such a resource just to myself. I had to translate them because they were so beautiful and brought out the gospel so well. From there the translating bug infected me and I have been at it ever since.  

Q. What kind of response have you seen to the reemergence of Bo Giertz into the English speaking world?

Bo Giertz’s “Hammer of God” has long been required reading at the LCMS seminaries. For a long time there just wasn’t anything else. I think there was a hunger for it though. Bo Giertz has a warm, gospel centered confessional approach to writing. He had a love for God’s people and his church and he wanted to feed those sheep. He wasn’t interested in being recognized for his academic abilities. He didn’t want to be known as more confessional or faithful than anyone else. If he took a hard stand on something, like he did with women’s ordination, it was out of deep seated conviction that that position was true and right, and that any other position was ultimately harmful for the church and the people who held to it. But he hated the animosity that came with such positions. He would always try to show love and charity to those he disagreed with. He cared for others far more than he cared for himself. What I have seen is people really respond to that well. They may not always agree with him, but they appreciate him. And this has spread far beyond Lutheran circles! I read reviews of his books by Baptists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics and sometimes they appreciate what he has to say far more than Lutherans. He really has a way of explaining and elucidating the Christian faith and gospel in a way that everyone can understand and appreciate. 

Q. For those interested in reading more about Bo Giertz, what are some resources to which you might direct them?

There are many books out there in today by Bo Giertz in English. There isn’t much about him. A few years ago now, my friend Eric Andrae edited a collection of essays about various aspects of Bo Giertz’s life and work called “A Hammer for God.” I translated an essay by his daughter Birgitta called “My Father, Bo Giertz” 1517 published that on their blog in three parts. The Easter 2018 issue of Logia should have an article by me on Bo Giertz and his style of preaching. It also deals with his life and how he became a Christian, a pastor and then a Bishop. 

Q. Do you ever see yourself writing an original text (i.e. not a translation)? If so, what would it be? 

That’s a good question. Perhaps a biography of Bo Giertz? I say that as a bit of a joke, but I do think I will write one, a friend of mine in Sweden and I are talking about co-authoring one to be released in Swedish and English. 

I enjoy writing. I write theological reflections for the 1517 blog. I like to do things that give a theological interpretation on Art and Culture, television shows and so forth. I’m also a huge fan of short stories and Ernest Hemingway. Sometimes, I like to riff on Ernest Hemingway short stories, but bring in Christian themes. So maybe someday I can find time enough to get enough of that sort of thing together to publish a book someone might find worth reading. 

Right now, I find that there is a lot of Giertz material yet to translate and publish. I’m working hard to do that. My goal is to see all of his stuff in English. I think he was perhaps the most important Lutheran voice of the 20th century and I hope his influence lasts for a long time even in the 21st century. Pastors have a lot of resources for their own theological development, but often the stuff they read is not something that reaches the laity well. Bo Giertz was more concerned with the laity than with pastors. That’s why I think he was the most important Lutheran voice of the 20th century. 

Q. What can we expect from you in the future?

I have several works in the process. Today as I’m writing this I just signed the contract for two volumes of Giertz’s collected sermons. I’m really excited to see those in print! They will be titled “A Year of Grace.” I am working on his commentaries, the Romans volume just came out this last week as a teaser for the rest of the New Testament. That’s exciting too. I have also started work on “Faith Alone” which was his second novel dealing with the reformation in Sweden. So you will see a lot of translations from me in the future. I do enjoy writing the blog articles too.   

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