Colonel Thieme – Face to Face With the Lord


My first pastor, the one through whom I was introduced to doctrine, and under whom I studied for something like 23 years, and one of the two men I credited in the acknowledgements of Arena and the Guardian King series went home to be with the Lord last Sunday. Here is the press release:

Robert B. Thieme, Jr., pastor of Berachah Church from 1950-2003 and president of R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, passed through death into eternity Sunday, 16 August 2009 at 8:45 PM and is now “absent from the body and face to face with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8b). He was the beloved husband of Betty Beal Thieme and devoted father of Robert B. Thieme III. He is also survived by his sister, Ann T. Wallis, and his cousins, Fredericka Botts and Nancy N. Harder.

Bob was born on 1 April 1918. His father, Robert B. Thieme, and mother, Anna Cloakey Thieme, of Ft. Wayne, Indiana moved to Beverly Hills, California in 1926. Bob graduated from Beverly Hills High School in the summer of 1936, having lettered in football, track, and gymnastics. He was a member of the Beverly High Alumni Association.

Bob enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson in the fall of 1936 where he majored in classical Greek and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. After a distinguished college career, he graduated on 29 May 1940 magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve.

With the goal of becoming a pastor, Bob was licensed to preach by the First Baptist Church of Tucson, Arizona on 5 June 1940. To further his ministerial preparation, he enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas in 1940. After one semester, his seminary studies were interrupted by the impending entry of the United States into World War II.

On 3 April 1941 Lieutenant Thieme began active duty service in the Army Air Corps. Because of the nature of his assigned duties he received rapid promotion and by the end of the war had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. LTC Thieme was the Director of Military Training for Flying Training Command. In this position he was charged with initiating, prescribing, and standardizing military training for all categories of personnel in the Aviation Cadet programs. His duties included coordinating training at 120 Army Air Corps installations throughout the United States and authoring publications that standardized this training. By 1943, he had written The Military Triad, Strategy and Tactics for The Aviation Cadet, and Get Smart, Mister. His final assignment was to supervise and direct the gunnery training at Harlingen Field, Texas. Bob returned to Dallas Seminary in 1946 to resume preparation for the ministry. The academic training he received in Greek, Hebrew, theology, history, and textual criticism became the foundation for a rigorous professional life of studying and teaching the Word of God. As a student, he became the interim pastor of Reinhardt Bible Church in Dallas, Texas. Upon graduating summa cum laude with a Master of Theology in May 1949, he continued to pastor at Reinhardt until April 1950.

For fifty-three years Robert B. Thieme, Jr., was the pastor of Berachah Church in Houston, Texas. As pastor he developed an innovative system of vocabulary, illustrations, and biblical categories designed to communicate the truths of God’s Word. His scholarly, expository approach to teaching the Word of God and the worldwide distribution of his publications and biblical teachings without charge or obligation have made Pastor Robert B. Thieme, Jr., a major voice in Christianity today.

A memorial service will be held at Berachah Church at 10:00 AM Sunday, 23 August 2009.


As I read this I realized for the first time that Col Thieme had already started preparing for the ministry when he was called into military service. But despite the press release’s implication that this service was an “interruption” I suddenly saw that it was anything but. It was not only God’s preparation for what was to be his life’s work but a wonderful metaphor for what Col Thieme would do as a pastor: train the army of God. I knew he had been involved in the Army’s training program, but it didn’t register until now just how extensive that work had been. First he developed a program for training the country’s soldiers. Then he developed a program for training the soldiers of our Lord’s heavenly kingdom. And that is just… awesome.

I also had completely forgotten that he had started out as interim pastor at Reinhardt Bible Church. Yes, I know I heard him mention it on occasion, but I did not recall it until now — certainly not when I came up with Cam Reinhardt’s name. Too funny.

I don’t think I can even get my mind around how greatly this man influenced my life. I am so grateful for his diligence in studying and teaching and protecting his sheep, in the face often of tremendous opposition and persecution. What he gave to me is a something I shall literally cherish forever.

But I’ll save that musing for another day.

The R. B. Thieme, Jr, Bible Ministries website has a wealth of his materials available for ordering free of charge. As with Grace Bible Church, the financial policy is one of grace, whereby anyone interested in receiving doctrinal information is free to do so and contributions are made solely on a voluntary basis. There are audio tapes, MP3 CD’s, DVDs and numerous booklets. I own and have read nearly all the latter, and still go back to refer to them from time to time.

0 thoughts on “Colonel Thieme – Face to Face With the Lord

  1. Tabitha Pendleton

    Pastor Thieme was my first doctrinal pastor. I thank God for leading me to him and for his personal motivation, persverance and diligence to studying the word of God. Even though I found him later in his ministry, in the early 90’s, his repetition challenged me to concentrate and persevere all the more. I’ve followed him since he left and what a wonderful testament to the faithfulness of God to care for us when we can no longer care for ourselves. Pastor McLaughlin is my pastor now and he has truly taken up the colors and is marching forward. I’m glad to know that if I keep moving forward, I will become like my pastors. Thank you for posting this tribune to a great invisible hero.

    1. karenhancock

      Thanks for your thoughts, Tabitha. You’re right that his time after retirement has indeed been a testament to God’s faithfulness to care for us. I was also tickled by the recollection that the Colonel wanted his PCS to be through dying grace rather than the Rapture and God granted that desire!

  2. Gayle

    Karen, how interesting that God’s plan for us as positive believers began under the Colonel’s ministry? There are not words to express how his teaching of the Mind of Christ changed and focused my life. Like you, I had forgotten some of the details of the Colonel’s military service. Did I ever know that he wrote so many of the training manuals? If so, I did not recall that he had. However; it comes as no surprise. Think of the body of work he has left for the believer. Thousands of hours of vocal Bible classes, numerous written publications on a variety of doctrinal subjects, not to mention the many men he trained for service in the Lord’s army as pastor teachers and evangelists. His impact on our country is priceless. Think of the countless members of the Royal Family that studied under his ministry, moved forward in their spiritual lives and formed the pivot. Oh, the precious memories I have stored in my soul, because of the Colonel’s faithfulness to study and teach.

    The Colonel never bowed to the opposition. He never faltered under all the pressures that came his way. I look forward to the reunion we shall have with him in eternity. Tomorrow, Sunday 23, 2009, members of the Royal Family will gather to pay tribute to the man, the solider, the leader, and the pastor-teacher. What a privilege it shall be to see a chapel filled and overflowing with reminiscences of the Colonel. He would be the first one to tells us, “It is the message, not the man”!

    1. karenhancock

      Hope you had a great time at the memorial service, Gayle. I can’t wait to hear about it. It has been such an honor to be a part of the Colonel’s ministry and I too look forward to that reunion in eternity. I wonder if he’s gotten together with Dr. Chafer yet!

  3. Jessica Horton

    Thank you for this tribute post! I know it is the “message” and not the “messenger”, but the Colonel helped me become aware of and escape all the legalism that I’ve been raised in. I never understood God, Christianity or any thing related to the spiritual life. It never made sense and I always felt ‘bad’ for not “getting it”. I always felt like an outcast because I never “got the ghost” or babbled in crazy talk. I was always made to feel like a disappointment because I didn’t.

    In fact, I was on the verge of losing all hope of ever understanding spiritual things, when I first heard:

    “The word of God is a live and powerful…”

    It has forever changed my life and opened my eyes. However, it (doctrine) should come with a warning: Once you hear it and express positive volition…

    The world is going to go crazy on you and life as you once knew it will NEVER be the same! My whole world has been turned upside down since that first MP3 on iTunes, but I know that my Redeemer lives and I am following the colors.

    Again, thank you for this post.

    1. karenhancock

      LOL! Thanks for this comment, Jessica. I LOVED reading about your discovery of Col Thieme and doctrine. And you are SOOO right about your world going crazy when you first start getting it. And when you study certain subjects. Or try to write a book on them. Or go to a conference…

  4. Kay

    Bob Thieme knew my parents personally. My mother still listens to his tapes and probably has 1,000 cassettes. She listens to one every day. (They had originally gotten reel to reels from the church.) When my sister called to say that Bob had gone to heaven, my mother spoke highly of him, and she said she was sad to see him gone. She will be 90 in three months. Her body has debilitated, but her mind is still going strong.

    He was the first pastor that I learned Hebrew and Greek from, and I always had the greatest of respect for his knowledge of the languages. I think there were few that had his extensive knowledge. When I had a question, I would always trust that he was right because he was so thorough in his studies of the Word. He was a man of integrity and of great mental acuity.

    His son, Bobby, and I met each other when we were children. Though I have not stayed in touch, he will probably remember Cannon Beach in Oregon where we went for a weekend (?) seminar many years ago. I’ve had dinner with Colonel Thieme, and I have listened to many, many of his tapes. My parents, Richard and Emma Morris, were devoted followers of the Colonel. I am sure that dad and Bob have been talking about old times.

    I am happy to know that he has gone to be with the Lord. He was a great asset to us here in learning about the real word of God, and I am sure that the Colonel has many crowns in heaven.

    “For the Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a critic of thoughts and intents of the heart. All scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Study to show thyself approved until God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed. Open the Word of God today to…” I can hear him now. I’ve repeated these verses many, many times.

    Thank you Berachah for delivering free materials for many years to my family. God has blessed you for your gifts of love.

  5. Jay

    I first learned of the Colonel from my best friend in high school. His family invited me to listen to a tape, and after doing so I was convinced my best friend and his family were all part of a cult. Ha! I had never heard anything like it before….but then I came back for another lesson, then another. After reading the basic books I was hooked. I’m currently raising my family on tapes and pubs, and have recently found a church where I live where the Pastor was trained under Colonel Thieme. My life has been a roller coaster ride with many challenges, blessings, etc. But the one constant has always been the accuracy of DOCTRINE, taught faithfully and accurately by Colonel Thieme. I believe I owe my survival from 3 combat tours to the doctrinal principles I have inculcated from his teachings. I look forward to the day in which I can work in his “back 40” in a perfect resurrection body.

    In Christ,


    1. karenhancock

      Thanks for sharing, Jay. I love hearing of how people came to doctrine. It’s funny how in cults, they do everything they can to keep you there, keep you from thinking. Keep you so busy, and always with another person that you have no time. Whereas with doctrine, it’s the opposite. The most common reaction I encounter is similar to yours (and mine), ie, the person thinks it’s weird, thinks the speaker is weird, doesn’t like the vocabulary, etc. And yet something there (the Truth, in my opinion) keeps us coming back. And yet those involved in doctrinal ministries must routinely deal with the “cult” accusation.

  6. Frank Molda Jehu-Appiah

    This man is the one who really got it right.My right pastor-teacher and the best Bible teacher for all time. I am amazed at each of his wonderful discovery of doctrinal truth from the word of God and I thank God for leading me to his ministry.

  7. Kay

    Sadly for our loss, but thankfully for her gain, my mother went to be with the Lord on 10/20/10. She was 90 years old.

    She had listened to Bob (as I said before) all of her life except the last two months when she seemed to have the inability to think very well and couldn’t seem to focus. She didn’t seem to want to do much except be taken care of.

    She has probably talked with Bob, my dad, her parents, and sister (maybe her brother since we have not heard from him for quite a while). She has also met my son, Rick, who went to be with the Lord only 11 months before my mother did.

    I am thankful for what I learned about the Bible through the tapes and Bob Thieme. It has been a blessing throughout my life.

    In time, because I know the Lord is real and confirmed through Bob from the original languages, I too will go to be with the Lord and the part of my family that went before. And then, the rest of my family will come to join Him and me. I am so thankful that I know the Lord. I am thankful too that I was able to learn so much scripture translated from the original languages. It gave me confidence that I really was reading the old, and true, Word of God.

    Thank the Lord. We know we have a place with Him.

  8. James Robert (Bob) Patterson

    I was introduced to Bob Thieme when in the US Army stationed at Zweibrucken, Germany. After being honorably discharged from the Army in January, 1972, I began his doctrinal bible studies, studying everyday for five years.

    I continue to this day the intake of Bible doctrine through Bob Thieme’s ministry. I continue to be greatly blessed through God’s Grace and my capacity to love God is far greater as a result of those doctrinal studies.


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