What Makes a Good Protestant Pastor? – Kittelson on Luther

I mentioned previously that I had read this book and found some of its material interesting enough to share with you, gentle readers.

The below section deals with Luther’s focus on theological education during the 1530s (after the Augsburg Confession). The first paragraph talks a little about how the University of Wittenberg functioned as a center of theological education, and the second paragraph is mostly a quote from Luther explaining what characteristics he thinks makes a good preacher.

One important piece of background information that you need for the first paragraph is that the University of Wittenberg had suspended the practice of disputation in 1523 as an identifying marker of the sort of scholastic theology that Luther rejected.

James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Fortress, 2003), 249–50.
[T]eaching the truth was now Luther’s most important objective. In a series of new reforms of the University between 1533 and 1536, even the disputations were reinstated. They were a means first of being able to confer the doctorate (and therefore train new professors), and second to test students on their grasp of Evangelical religion. As a final step, at Luther’s behest the elector decreed in 1535 that anyone who wished to become a pastor but had no bishop to ordain him should present himself to the Wittenberg theological faculty for examination and ordination.

Luther was clear about what he hoped to create through all this effort: “First, a good preacher should be able to teach well, correctly, and in an orderly fashion. Second, he should have a good head on his shoulders. Third, he should be eloquent. Fourth, he should have a good voice. Fifth, he should have a good memory. Sixth, he should know when to stop. Seventh, he should be constant and diligent about his affairs. Eighth, he should invest body and life, possessions and honor in it. Ninth, he should be willing to let everyone vex and hack away at him.” According to 16th-century educators, six of these nine characteristics could be taught. Just as his own mind had been changed by his work at a university, so too Luther was now trying to change the minds of his students.
That last line resonates deeply with me.



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