In Memoriam – John W. Klotz
January 10, 1918 – April 11, 1996
© CRSQ 33:159
The society, as well as the entire Creation community, has lost a scholar and a man of enormous and versatile talents at the passing of our Christian friend, John W. Klotz. He was one of the team of 10 original founding members of the Society in June of 1963. John remained on the Board for nearly 30 years until the age of 75 in 1992. During this time, he authored numerous papers and served the Society as Treasurer from 1985 to 1988, and on the Employment Bureau from 1979 to 1989. He was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1988. The March 1989 Creation Research Society Quarterly was dedicated to Dr. Klotz.
John was one of the first of a generation of Missouri Synod Lutheran professors and theologians who achieved a doctorate in science. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1941. He received the Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1947 and engaged in further graduate studies at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. For his outstanding work in the service of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1986 by Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
John was a teacher all his life, serving in no less than five secondary schools, colleges, universities and seminaries. He taught science courses in biology, zoology, botany, biophysics, bioethics, and ecology. His outstanding books on creation include Genes, Genesis and Evolution (1955, 1970), Modern Science in the Christian Life (1961), The Challenge of the Space Age (1961), Ecology Crisis (1971), and Studies in Creation (1985). He is also coauthor of the CRS booklet Did Charles Darwin Become a Christian?.
A humble and kind scholar in both science and theology, John always found time to help others in a most busy schedule, a rare trait in today’s world. He was there to listen as a Christian friend. Although I did not meet him until I attended Concordia Seminary in the late 1980’s, he had served as one of my mentors in the matter of creation since high school when I purchased and continually used his outstanding book Genes, Genesis and Evolution.
As a Missouri-Synod Lutheran scholar and pastor, John served at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis from 1974 to 1988 when he retired. He served as a wise counselor and a man of integrity during those years when the literalness of Genesis was being questioned and doubted by fellow Lutherans. His one wish and desire was to see that his Church stayed true to Scripture in matters of creation as well as other doctrines. God used this kind and gifted man mightily to do this.
In the introduction to his book Genes, Genesis and Evolution, he stated a premise he ably defended during his entire life:
It is the author’s thesis that evolution in the generally accepted sense of the term has not taken place. He does not believe that life as we know it is the result of a gradual process of development, that man, for instance, is the descendant of simple, unicellular forms….This is not to deny the fact of change….But all of this change, insofar as the organic world is concerned, has taken place within limits fixed by the Creator when He fashioned the different ‘kinds’ in the beginning. (p. vi.).
Yet, in spite of his intelligence, his many prestigious positions through all the years, his well-earned reputation and capabilities, John gave the glory to Jesus Christ, his Savior and Lord. John firmly held forth the God of Scripture as the Creator and Redeemer. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Florence, their four surviving sons and three daughters and their families as well as by his many friends and acquaintances. A fifth son preceded his father in death. He who was never ashamed of proclaiming the Biblical truths of creation is now with his Creator. John set a marvelous example of dedication to the fundamental truths of Scripture and of civility. We thank you, Lord, for all You accomplished through John’s long and productive life!
Robert E. Gentet