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Remembering Anselm Min (d. August 7, 2020)

08/18/2020 8:14 AM | Anonymous

The CTSA mourns the loss of beloved member Anselm Min.  Below is Claremont Graduate University's tribute to Anselm.

Eternal rest, grant unto Anslem O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May Anselm's soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

Passings: Anselm Mi, Scholar Who Helped Students See the Enduring Relevance of the Religious Past

Professor Emeritus Anselm Min, who passed away earlier this month, is seen here as he addresses an audience on the challenges that globalization presents to Christian theology during a 2017 conference.

The Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas may have died some 750 years ago, but for Anselm Min, a longtime member of CGU’s Religion Department, Aquinas had much to teach Min’s students in our hyper-self-conscious age of social media.

“It was refreshing to read a thinker who reflects and argues rather than shouts and claims,” he wrote in his critically acclaimed 2005 study, Paths to the Triune God; “one who withdraws himself so as to let the matter speak for itself rather than intrude his own subjectivity at every available turn.”

A scholar renowned for his efforts to make historically distant theologies relevant to the present, Min passed away earlier this month at his Upland home. For nearly 30 years, he had served as a member of the university’s Religion Department.

Min had only just retired from CGU earlier this summer.

School of Arts & Humanities Dean Lori Anne Ferrell circulated a message to the SAH faculty about Min’s passing, praising “his remarkable gifts of intellect and spirit.”

On Instagram and Twitter, former colleagues and students expressed sorrow over his passing and paid tribute to Min’s warmth and scholarship.

CGU religion doctoral student Josiah Solis on Twitter described Min as “one of the most important professors I have ever studied with.”

Also on Twitter, University of Toronto doctoral student Sean Capener said Min was “almost single-handedly the reason I’ve spent the last seven years digging around in the medieval scholastic tradition.”

A Distinguished Career

Min held not one but two doctorates—one in religion from Vanderbilt University and one in philosophy from Fordham University—and helped maintain CGU’s high reputation in academic circles. He was the product of a Jesuit education and a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

At CGU, Min received many awards, including ones from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fletcher Jones Research Grant, and he enjoyed a five-year tenure as the John D. and Lillian Maguire Distinguished Professor of Religion.

In works such as Paths to the Triune God, Korean Religions in Relation, and Faith, Hope, Love and Justice, Min worked tirelessly to show the enduring power and relevance of traditions of religious thought to our contemporary age.

Recalling his earliest years at CGU (then CGS), Min writes in Paths to the Triune God that he had taught doctoral students since 1992, and that “during this time it occurred to me that some of our students tended to be so preoccupied with things contemporary that they not only suffered a woeful ignorance of the classical tradition but also had a positive contempt for the theological past.”

Professor Emeritus Anselm Min In his scholarship and teaching, Min sought to address this misunderstanding, explaining to generations of students and readers the “broadening and liberating experience” of understanding and appreciating past theologians while not making excuses for their errors and prejudices.

Ferrell also said in her message to the SAH community that they will honor and celebrate Min’s legacy as soon as quarantine conditions are lifted and in-person gatherings are allowed again.

Min is survived by his wife, Sonnya, and their daughter Sophia.


By Claremont Graduate University (Aug. 17, 2020) at


  • 08/18/2020 10:04 AM | James Bretzke
    Though not indicated in his obituary, Anselm came to the United States as a Jesuit seminarian, though leaving before ordination. He was always immensely kind to me (who had served in Korea long after he left). He really bridged a theological space between East and West and was an excellent example of doing a theology of inculturation.
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    • 08/18/2020 11:58 AM | Dr Peter C Phan
      Anselm Min is the most distinguished and learned Asian-American theologian. Holding doctoral degrees in both philosophy and theology, he was an expert in medieval theology as well as modern philosophy and theology. His writings are characterized by painstaking scholarship, careful reasoning, and lucid style. I am deeply honored to be his friend. CTSA and the academy will sorely miss him. May he rest in peace. May God give consolation to his surviving wife and daughter.
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  • 08/18/2020 2:27 PM | Maria-Pilar Aquino
    I met with Prof. Min several times while visiting Claremont. Always so kind and welcoming. A brilliant mind and a good friend. May God's eternal light shine on him.
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  • 08/18/2020 3:20 PM | Fernando F Segovia
    Most distinguished and learned, indeed. In 1984, when I arrived at Vanderbilt, Anselm was working on his doctoral dissertation, "Praxis and Liberation: Toward a Theology of Concrete Totality." We had many a conversation on Liberation Theology and the Global South. He was always, to build upon Phan's description, most gentle and most gracious. The defense was excellent, held before a distinguished committee: Peter Hodgson, director, alongside Sallie McFague and Eugene TeSelle. Before what can only be called a hyper-liberal group, there stood a baffling figure--a scholar thoroughly grounded in the Catholic tradition and an intellectual thoroughly at home in cosmopolitan culture. I well recall his wife, Sonnya, as well, an exquisite person in every respect. A scholar from another time and place: I give thanks for his voice and his work.
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    • 08/18/2020 5:18 PM | Dr Francis P Fiorenza
      I remember Anselm from our meetings over the years. We made a point of meeting at every AAR meeting that we were both at as well as a CTSA meetings. He always impressed me with this theological acumen and we often spoke about the challenges that the Roman Catholic Church faces today. He often had proposals that he thought should be considered. On many issues we often agreed. We also shared a commitment to the importance of liberation theology. For me his death is a loss not only for theology, but also of someone who has become a personal friend and colleague over the years. His contributions to theology through his own writings and through the colloquia that he has organized will endure. With sorrow at the loss of a dear friend and colleague. Francis Schussler Fiorenza
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  • 08/19/2020 10:36 PM | Edmund Kee-Fook Chia
    We first met Anselm some eight years ago at the Congress of Asian Theologians that was held in South Korea. We knew him through his works so it was really a privilege to meet and interact with him in person. Being the few Catholics at the conference we hung out with each other during which he mentioned that he had not been to the CTSA for a very long time.

    The following year Gemma was convening a session on globalization and reached out to Anselm to ask if he was interested in presenting a paper. He responded immediately and enthusiastically said he would and, sure enough, joined us at the convention held in MIami. Since then he has been faithfully coming to the CTSA convention, presenting at many different topic sessions. For many of us of Asian descent Anselm served as forerunner to a lot of the work that we picked up on ourselves. Even if we had not met him in the flesh we regarded him as a mentor. So, meeting with him annually at the CTSA was a true gift.

    More recently, Edmund asked if he would like to participate in a Confucian-Christian project and again he responded within 24 hours in the affirmative. We met in Rome in December 2018 for the project and when we met again for the CTSA last June Anselm was still talking very appreciatively about the conference, partly because it was also his first visit to Rome. His paper on Laudato Si and Confucianism is due to appear in an edited volume, entitled Confucianism and Christianity, to be published by Routledge. It may well be his last written contribution but his legacy as teacher, scholar, colleague and friend will certainly be with us for years. God bless his good soul. RIP Anselm.

    Edmund and Gemma
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  • 08/20/2020 11:36 AM | Fernando F Segovia
    My colleague Professor Peter Hodgson has asked me to add this remembrance of Min in his name, and I gladly do so hereby:

    "Anselm Min was one of the most distinguished graduates of the program in theological studies at Vanderbilt. He was already very knowledgeable and well-prepared and seemed more like a colleague than a student. The faculty learned as much from him as he learned from us. I am pleased to have contributed a small bit to his career as a teacher and scholar."
    - Peter C. Hodgson, Charles G Finney Professor of Theology Emeritus, Divinity School, Vanderbilt University
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