Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguished from each other the Law and the Gospel.
This thesis divides into two parts. The first part states a requisite of an orthodox teacher, viz., that he must present all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture. This, in our day, is regarded as an unheard-of demand. Even in circles of so-called believers, people act as if they were shocked when they hear some one say: “I have found the truth; I am certain concerning every doctrine of revelation.” Such a claim is considered a piece of arrogance. Young students in particular dare not set up such a claim. In Germany they are told: “Whatever you do, do not believe that you have already found the truth. Keep on studying until you have reached the goal. Never say you have already reached it!” Even the German professors who speak thus to their students never reach the goal; if one of them claims that he has, he is immediately regarded with suspicion.
There are people who find their delight, not in eating and drinking or in hoarding up wealth or in a life of ease, but in quenching their thirst for knowledge. True, in theory this tendency is not approved, but that is practically what the professors are advising when they say warningly to their students: “Never speak of the Christian doctrine in terms of finality!” They are afraid that some one might speak with finality on an article of faith instead of ceaselessly rolling the stone of research, as Sisyphus in the Greek hell is rolling the stone that he wants to bring to a higher level and which always slips from him. That was the reason too, why Khanis, who had been a faithful Lutheran, sought to justify himself in the preface of his miserable Dogmatik by citing the Latin proverb: Dies diem docet (One day is the teacher of the next). He meant to say: “A year ago I believed this and that; but other thoughts came to me, and I found other doctrines.” That is a miserable, yes, an appalling position for a theologian to take. Scripture requires that we have the Word of God absolutely pure and unadulterated and that we be able to say when coming down from the pulpit: “I could take an oath upon it that I have rightly preached the Word of God. Even to an angel coming down from heaven I could say: My preaching has been correct.” That explains the paradox remark of Luther that a preacher must not pray the Lord’s Prayer when coming down from the pulpit, but that he should do so before the sermon. For an orthodox preacher need not pray after delivering his sermon: “Forgive me my trespasses,” since he can say: “I have proclaimed the pure truth.” In our day, men have become merged in skepticism to such an extent that they regard any one who sets up the aforementioned claim as a semilunatic.
It is, then, a diabolical teaching to say: “You will never achieve the ability to give a Scriptural presentation of the articles of faith.” Especially when students hear a statement like this, it is as if some hellish poison were injected into their hearts; for after that they will no longer show any zeal to get to the bottom of the truth, to have clear conceptions of the truth.
But suppose some one could truthfully say, “There was no false teaching in my sermon,” still his entire sermon may have been wrong. Can that be true? The second part of our thesis says so.
And we’ll take a look at that second part next week…