On Reading and the Pastor
Dr. C.F.W. Walther preached a very powerful sermon at a pastoral conference in which he talks about the pastor and the reading that he does. Now, it would be my opinion that the text he is preaching on, when it refers to "give attention to reading" is actually better rendered, "give attention to the reading" referring to the reading of God’s Word in the worship assembly of the Christians, but….regardless of how one wishes to take that Pauline/Dominical command, Walther’s point is still very good and worth our careful consideration.
My lawyer friend here marvels that in his profession he is required to take continuing education classes every year in order to retain his certification to practice law, but pastors have no such requirements. Doctor friends too have wondered aloud at the fact that they have to continue to take courses in order to retain their license to practice medicine, whereas pastors can graduate from the seminary and never again crack open a book. It is an interesting point. What of it? Should we clergy-person types be required by the Church to receive formal continuing theological education? I’m not talking here about Synodical fund-raising workshops, yet another Church Growth week long seminar with the latest guru, or programmatic things like that, nope none of that. Rather, what about in-depth theological education: courses in contemporary trends in various theological discplines, preaching workshops, practicums on various areas of pastoral care and practice, truly meaningful stuff. How about a Greek brush-up class? Or Hebrew?
Imagine the howls of protest that would arise if today there was required what was commonplace in Martin Chemnitz’ church consistory: regular examination of pastors and other church ministers. In Chemnitz’ day pastors had actually to have memorized his "Handbook" and be able to recite it upon questioning. Yikes!
Walther offers a healthy corrective. Thanks to Pastor Joel Basely for kindly offering this sermon to me to share with the Cyberbrethren community. Thanks Joel! Here is Walther’s sermon: