This past Saturday, December 31, 2022, we received the sad news that Dr. Jim Nestingen died suddenly from a heart attack in his home in St. Paul, Minnesota. This news was shocking, not only because it happened so suddenly but because Jim was one of those pillars of the faith that had been so instrumental in the establishment and continued development and strength of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). He was also, for those who knew him, a model of the faith to which many of us aspired.
His professional involvement in the NALC included being a regular presenter at the Braaten-Benne Lectures, preaching and teaching at Mission Convocations, Pastors’ Conferences and Mission District events, serving on the Commission for Theology & Doctrine, contributing to the work of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum, presenting at the DiscipleLife 2020 gathering, and representing the NALC in ecumenical dialogues with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC).
Prior to his involvement in the NALC, he served as an instructor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul from 1976–78. After serving two years as assistant pastor at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Toronto, Canada, he returned to Luther Seminary as assistant professor of church history in 1980. He was named professor of church history in 1992 and professor emeritus of church history in 2006. Throughout his years of service, he had become one of the world’s leading Reformation history scholars.
On a personal level Jim was a humble man, a model and contender of the faith, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ who loved his family, loved his Church, and had fallen deeply in love with his Lord. I was always struck by the clarity and accessibility of his preaching and teaching, the humorous and down-to-earth way he communicated, as well as by his uncompromising commitment to the Gospel truth of Jesus Christ as the “sole name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). His stance for “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and his willingness to stand firm against any and all “false gospels” (Galatians 1:6–9) in this world came at a cost. But the cost was nothing to Jim, in light of the saving cost offered to him and to us and to the entire world in Jesus Christ.
Jim Nestingen will be missed. His eternal gain is our temporal loss. Thanks be to God that we will see him and be with him again, as we place our faith and our trust in Jesus.
Please keep his wife, Carolyn, and the family in your prayers. Any cards and condolences can be sent to their home at 2216 Ferris Lane, St. Paul, MN 55113-3878.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, January 6, 2023 at St. James Lutheran Church, 460 Annapolis St. West, West St. Paul, MN at 11:00 am, with a visitation starting at 10:00 am. Visitation will also happen at Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell St. Paul Chapel, 536 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN, on Thursday evening between 5:00–8:00 pm.