Tag Archives: E.W. Kähler

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Preaching

The preacher should never ascend the pulpit without honest preparation.

The ability truly to preach in accordance with the divine will and with fruit for souls is not the work of human diligence or the result of regulations of any science. It is a gift of God and primarily has its foundation in Him, as Philipp Melanchthon has correctly opined…. Nevertheless God also demands from us diligence. For it would not only be a sign of negligence on the part of the Christian speaker, but also of audacity, when he will make so very serious and divine things into the object of his words and nevertheless would not be prepared to speak and give his address without proper meditation. St. Paul instructs the latter in 1 Timothy 4:15, where he says, ταῦτα μελέτα, “Practice these things.” (Vulgate: Haec meditare.) Μελέτη τὸ πᾶν, “Take care of everything”, says Periander of Corinth.[1] It is said that the Athenian orator Pericles had not complied with the repeated request of the people since he, as he said, was not prepared (λέγων ἀσύντακτον εἶναι). And as Demosthenes was invited by the Athenians to give them some advice, he there refused them with the words: οὐ συντέταγμαι, he had not deliberated the matter with himself.[2] Even Tullius (Cicero) writes about himself that he had not ascended the rostrum without preparation. How much more should those who want to take on or already have taken on the office to instruct Christian people take great pains that they do not presumptuously and inconsiderately jabber out [herausschwatzen] everything that comes into their mind and on their tongue when they preach a sermon and thus shamefully dishonor this exalted office in the sight of God, the holy angels, and the Church.

[1] Trans. note: This has sometimes been mistranslated as “Practice makes perfect.” One may also translate it as “Preparation is everything” or “Study everything”.

[2] Trans. note: A translation of the Greek phrase could be “I have not prepared myself”.

– From J.A. Quenstedt’s “Ethica Pastoralis”, translated from the Latin by E.W. Kähler, translated from German by DMJ from Volume One of “Magazin für Ev-Luth. Homiletik und Pastoraltheologie” Note: A work in progress.

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