An Indiana-born Lutheran minister, he became a bestselling author of didactic, religious novels such as Forgive us our Trespasses, White Banners, and The Big Fisherman. His most popular work, The Robe, was adapted into a film starring Richard Burton.
He graduated from Wittenberg College and became ordained as a minister. He subsequently led Lutheran congregations in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.
He published his highly successful debut novel, Magnificent Obsession, in 1929.
He grew up in Indiana and Kentucky as the son of a minister. He later had two children with his wife, Bessie Porch.
His wish was that The Big Fisherman never be adapted for radio or television; however, the work was eventually made into a film starring Howard Keel.