Quotable Quotes on the Divine Call and the Holy Ministry

Reading John H. C. Fritz’ Pastoral Theology for the first time page by page has been very helpful in many regards. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from books like his, and much sage advice. Of course, he holds to the belief deeply rooted in Missouri Synod theology that Article V in the Augsburg Confession is speaking about the ministry in abstracto, i.e. it is not referring in that place to an office held only by clergy, but simply to the Word and Sacraments in general as the means of grace. In this view, it is not until Article XIV that the Confession concretely addresses the pastoral ministry.

This view has been challenged by professors of both seminaries (Scaer and Nagel), who see both Article V and XIV as addressing the pastoral ministry. The former view, held by early Missouri Synod theologians like Fritz, gives the impression that Christ first instituted the means of grace, and then, as an afterthought, calls certain men to give and distribute them on behalf of the whole multitude, since it would be disorderly for everyone to do this. Some fear that the latter view (held by Scaer and Nagel) leads to the idea that the Word is only efficacious if preached by a pastor. But Scaer himself has told me in personal conversation and in public writing that this is not what is meant. After all, said Scaer, “people believed without ever having met Jesus” because “the rumor of him went throughout the whole region.” What it means is this: For the sake of Justification (Art. IV), God instituted the Ministry which gives the Word and the Sacraments. “In order that this faith might be obtained…” (Art. V). This does not mean that people cannot come to faith apart from a called and ordained minister. But this was the reason that Christ chose and sent certain men (who in turn did the same), so that His Word might be proclaimed and His Sacraments given. This view does not negate or contradict that of 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

Anyway, the point of this post was not really to talk about that, but rather to share some choice quotes from Luther that I found in Fritz’ book on the Divine Call. But feel free to discuss the stuff above too. BTW, there are tons of great articles by Scaer, and a few by Nagel on this topic. I have them all in a folder somewhere, and would be happy to provide references. Or, you can order from Concordia Catechetical Academy the second volume of Scaer’s writings, which includes his complete bibliography. Okay, so now to the Luther quotes:

On the Divine Call

Luther writes: “God will not be bound to numbers, greatness, high standing, power, or whatever may be personal with men, but will be only with those who love and keep His Word, though they may be nothing more than mere stable boys.” (Wider das Papsttum zu Rom, vom Teufel gestiftet, 1545).

Luther warns against selfish desires for a change, saying: “Remain where you are until you are called; do not seek another call; do not impose yourself upon others; for your proficiency is not so great that it will burst open your belly…If God desires to have you, He will seek you out, yea, even send an angel from heaven to lead you where He desires to have you.” Ad Ps. 8:3.

Again, “Do not limit God in reference to purpose, time, or place; for where you do not desire to go, there He will compel you to go, and where you would like to be, there you shall not be. Though you were wiser and more prudent than Solomon or Daniel, yet you ought to shrink, as from hell itself, from speaking even one word unless you are called to do so. Believe me, no one will accomplish anything that is good with his preaching unless he, without his own initiative, has been called and persuaded to preach and teach. We have only one Master; our Lord Jesus Christ alone teaches and brings fruit through His servants whom He has called. He who teaches without being called teaches to the detriment both of himself and his hearers because Christ is not with him.” Kirchenpostille, Day of St. Andrew.

John H. C. Fritz, Pastoral Theology, writes: “A pastor in charge of a congregation should keep in mind that the Lord has called him to that charge and that he should therefore not for any selfish reasons seek to get away” (p. 44).


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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