Theodore Minnema, 89, soft-spoken scholar, sympathetic listener, and thoughtful seminary professor passed away on January 18 following a season of declining health.
Minnema was born in Paterson, N.J., where he attended Eastern Christian School. Four years of military service in the Merchant Marine in the Pacific theater followed. Upon demobilization in 1946, he enrolled at Calvin College and Seminary, graduating in 1953. The Free University of Amsterdam awarded him a doctorate in 1958. His thesis was a study of the social ethics of Reinhold Niebuhr. He fondly remembered his personal contact with Dr. Niebuhr at Union Theological Seminary of New York.
Minnema served only one Christian Reformed congregation, South Olive CRC in Holland, Mich. Four years into that ministry, Calvin College appointed him to the Bible department. He became professor of ethical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in 1974 and retired in 1991.
Minnema was known for his hospitality. He related easily to people, regardless of their background. Though a man of few words, he was known for his ready responsiveness and his quick understanding. His pastoral heart and quiet sense of humor made his presence always welcome. The suffering of believers as well as the afflictions of mankind were areas of profound concern. His students sensed that for him the reality of Christ’s suffering was a source of peace.
Minnema was deeply interested in the church’s voice in society. He had a positive influence on the Christian Reformed Church. He remained lucid throughout old age.
Minnema is survived by his wife, Tena; by their children Tom and Sondra Minnema, Hank and Cindy Minnema, Ted and Courtney Minnema, Rick and Vivian Minnema; and by 12 grandchildren.