Luther Laments Contempt of Preaching

In discussions with friends around the table, Martin Luther observed

“It was said in Lochau that six hundred of the richest parishes in the diocese of Würzburg are vacant. He [Luther] commented, “This will have bad consequences. It will happen among us, too, if contempt for the Word and its ministers continues to be so great. If I wanted to get rich under these circumstances I wouldn’t preach but would be a juggler and travel about the country. For the sake of money I’d have plenty of spectators.”

I think the prosperity ‘preachers’ have taken Luther at his word.  They draw crowds because they’re jugglers, not because they’re preachers.  Luther continued-

“When the visitors reproached the farmers and inquired why they were unwilling to support their parish ministers when they were providing livings for their cattle herders, the farmers replied, ‘Because we can’t get along without a herder.’ For shame, that it has come to this in my lifetime!”

People now can live without preachers but they can’t live without coaches.  They can live without sermons but they can’t live without their favorite team.  Luther then turned his attention to the antinomians- i.e., those people who think that the Law of God doesn’t apply to Christians:

“The antinomians contribute a great deal to this. They increase the presumption among secure people, and I now see so much presumption in the antinomians that under the covering of trust in [God’s] mercy they dare to do whatever they please, as if the believer no longer sins and as if believers are so righteous that they don’t need any preaching of the law. They dream of a church as righteous as Adam was in paradise, though the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against him when God said, ‘Adam, you may eat of every fruit, but if you eat of this tree you shall die.’”

Add to the prosperity “preachers” the doings of the Emergents (a group which wants the church to reflect the culture and which prefers praise bands to choirs) and the Seeker Sensitives (the folk and churches which will give you a prize to attend their services) and you realize that what Luther said in the 16th century could just as easily be said today.  Indeed, it should be said today, from every pulpit across the land.  But it won’t be, because too many preachers actually are entertainers and too many Church attenders are far too comfortable living licentious disobedient lives.

There really is nothing new under the sun.  Nothing at all.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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