Who was the greatest preacher of all time

The central importance that preaching has played in the ecclesiastical and social life of Protestant Christianity since the Reformation [1] is based on its exclusive theological evaluation as an address of God that updates and applies the word of the Bible. The liturgical remodeling of divine services [2] took into account the centering of religious life on the sermon and was intended to support the effect of the word preached; The latter also applied to the church art and music cultivated in Lutheranism in contrast to the Reformed or Calvinist denomination. In the staging of Protestant church rooms, the focus on the sermon found its obvious expression, whereby the Reformed as a rule renewed more radically than the Lutherans, who religiously adapted themselves to pre-Reformation cultural assets. In addition to the task of attributing salvation through word and faith, in denominational Lutheran preaching took on important functions of social regulation of life, practical information, exemplary verification of lived faith and the theological interpretation and integration of cosmic threats (natural disasters, comets, etc.) [3 ] or hygienic prevention, for example in the case of plague epidemics.

The central social task of the sermon in the Lutheran denominational society of the early modern period corresponded to an "ambiguous" relationship between the clergy and the political rulers in the city and in the territories. [4] On the one hand, the Lutheran preachers were integrated into the system of the denominational state; they were appointed, checked and visited by the institutions of the sovereign church regiment and had to preach and exercise their office in accordance with the church ordinances issued by the authorities. On the other hand, despite frequent conflicts, they had to play a religiously affirmed role as authorized interpreters of the divine word, even in critical opposition to the social order. The tense social situation of the Lutheran clergy in the denominational society of the early modern period reflects their "eccentric" task of interpreting the divine word in the bonds of their time.

The preparation of the Lutheran clergy for the central task of their office, the sermon, already played a role in connection with the study of theology. [5] Trial sermons under the guidance of an experienced pastor or a specially commissioned theology professor were an integral part of the theological training of Lutheran pastors of the 16th and 17th centuries. A wealth of auxiliary literature on the doctrine of sermons (postils, example books, homiletics, etc.), which was closely related to contemporary rhetoric, developed increasingly differentiated linguistic expression and rhetorical structures, on the one hand to deal with the problem of the annual return of the same sermon texts (so-called pericopic compulsion) through variations On the other hand, because the preachers of the later 16th and 17th centuries - especially in the cities - had to correspond to an average more educated, culturally and religiously more demanding "preaching audience" than was the case for the first two generations after the Reformation.

The denomination-specific connection of Lutheranism to the early church sermon texts (gospel and epistle pericopes) also played an important, general cultural role outside the church. [6] The pericopes often formed the basis of domestic devotional literature, they played an important role in school translation or poetry exercises, and they interwoven - similar to the sacred song - private and public religion, ecclesiastical, domestic and school culture. The knowledge of the Bible of Lutheran "laypeople" of the denominational age should have been primarily centered on the pericopes, the most important media of the Lutheran confessional culture alongside the catechism and the hymn book, with long-term effects reaching up to the threshold of the present. [7]

A defining characteristic of Lutheran denominational culture in relation to the sermon relates to its frequency and length. Two Sunday sermons and at least one weekly sermon were to be given by the individual pastors, also in the country, in addition to the casual sermons, on an annual average hardly less than 200 sermons. In addition to the early morning catechism sermons, two Sunday sermons and several weekly sermons were the norm in the cities. In cities like Lübeck, Augsburg, Strasbourg or Rostock, between 35 and 40 regular sermons were given every week, i.e. between 1,500 and 2,000 sermons over the course of a year. High feast days and days of remembrance, including the Apostles 'and saints' feasts, which were still often celebrated in Lutheranism in the 17th century, were celebrated with at least one morning and one afternoon sermon. Authorities mandated participation in the Sunday and public holiday worship services. The length of the sermon prescribed by normative sources such as church ordinances or sermon mandates was usually around an hour. Pulpit clocks should ensure compliance with this standard. In particular, the dogmatically formed theological conviction that the holy scriptures were to be considered the only truth norm and that their text was inspired [8], led to a sometimes seemingly excessive care of the commentary, which also had to include the refutation of other people's interpretations without being applied to the to be allowed to neglect the contemporary world. For funeral sermons, a "medium of edification" [9] cultivated especially in Lutheranism and popularized in mass print distribution since the last third of the 16th century, it is likely that the sermon times were considerably longer, up to three hours.

The central theological and religious significance of the sermon in Lutheranism corresponded to the mass distribution of printed sermons. [10] In addition to postils, ongoing interpretations of the gospel and epistle pericopes in the cycle of the church year, which were used as aids for preachers, but also as domestic devotional books - in Lutheran Germany of the 17th century there should have been around 700 different postil prints - [ 11], sermon cycles held in the non-pericope-bound weekly sermons were mostly printed on individual biblical books or on certain topics or emblematically developed motifs. Individual sermons or series of sermons that were given at outstanding events, such as anniversaries and anniversaries, were also widely distributed in print, which could not be explained without public demand expressed in them. In many of these printed sermons, the numerous scriptural documents listed were noted in the margin in order to show their readers ways into scripture, to understand the statements of the preachers, but also to check and, if necessary, correct them and to be able to understand them within the framework of an overall understanding of the biblical cosmos of truth. The number of the church fathers mentioned, who were used extensively in exegesis alongside the reformers, especially Luther and Melanchthon, was in some cases considerable. The claim of Lutheran theology to represent not a "new" but the old teaching of the Gospel was given expression through conversations with the fathers in dogmatics as well as in preaching practice. [12]

Under the conditions of the Thirty Years' War, the production of long, costly, often multi-volume postilums declined, while the more event-related individual sermons or thematic sermon cycles increased. This finding from the history of printing says less about the pericope-bound Sunday sermons actually given than about the weekly sermons and sermon cycles, which allowed the preachers to choose a specific biblical book or topic, and about the reading needs of the time.

A picture of the Lutheran sermon obtained primarily in the mirror of the non-pericope-bound sermon cycles from the time of the Thirty Years' War is incomplete, but nevertheless reveals accents that are characteristic of the theological and religious approaches to war practiced in Lutheranism. In general, the printed sermons are characterized by an intensive effort to present the relevant content of the elaborated theological dogmatics in a homiletically appropriate, elementary form. [13] The first thing that seems to be striking is the turn to Old Testament books of the prophets, in particular to the pre-exilic judgment prophets, who heralded the downfall of Israel or urged Israel to repent. [14] The Germany of today is the Israel to whom the doom promises of Scripture apply. In the fate of the biblical people, the fate of present-day Germany, a particular territory or a certain city should be looked at, perspectives on how to ward off impending disaster should be shown or probation strategies should be practiced with a view to the near end.

Did the celebrations on the occasion of the Reformation anniversary of 1617 [15] associated with great public echo bring about a new kind of visualization of Luther and the accents of his teaching, which were focused on the combative confrontation with the anti-Christian papacy, spread in a journalistic campaign that had not been achieved since the early Reformation The apocalyptic diagnosis of the present now played a prominent role in the face of the war. The "denominational triumphalistic" tones that were not dominant but clearly audible during the Reformation anniversary did not come to the fore, but rather the call to repentance. Today, under the threat of the oncoming end, Germany should repent and return to obedience to God. Unfortunately experiences of the present, distress of war, are God's punishment for an unrepentant life. The wisdom tradition of a relationship between doing and behaving in the Old Testament determines the theological processing of reality in the face of war. "Should God lay down his rod and stick / we must stop him from resisting through sin: Turn to me, says the Lord of hosts / I will turn to you. God give us penitent hearts", calls out the Rostock theology professor and St. Marien -Pastor Johannes Quistorp the Elder his congregation [16], in this respect a typical representative of Lutheran preaching at the time of the war. [17]

The Thirty Years' War in Lutheran Germany was likely to have been associated with intensification bursts of apocalyptic imminent expectation, but at the same time with an increase in hope for a chiliastic empire of peace that would break out after the destruction of the Roman Antichrist. [18] The own present appeared as a transit time of monstrous, eschatological changes that became manifest in star constellations or apocalyptically interpreted events or people. The pulpit call to penance, which wanted to drift into the outstretched arms of grace of the crucified God, is probably one of the few religious, social and denominational constants in the Lutheran denominational societies during the war.

The intensity of the penitential sermon corresponded to the conviction of Lutheran preachers that most people of their time fell prey to eternal damnation through blind security or through the increased sinfulness in the course of the war and the everyday contempt for the divine word. Johann Matthäus Meyfart, one of the most important preachers and writers from the time of the Thirty Years' War, exclaimed: "O Lord Jesus / in what time have you saved us! Many years ago a father our prayed / which jhme was still stinging out of the mouth. But since then he has neglected / luck has been struck with heaps. Enough of this / the rocks want to burst over it. " [19] Most of the signs of the end predicted by the apocalyptic texts of the Bible were considered fulfilled, so that - as Quistorp put it - "we should all wait day and hour / and be ready / so that this day does not suddenly overtake us / and unprepared. " [20]

The overall historical-theological framework in which one interprets one's own present was shaped by the doctrine of four monarchies in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel (Chapter 4). The fourth world empire, the Roman, was coming to an end from the perspective of contemporaries. But that means: "It will soon / as Daniel speaks / God of the kingdom of heaven / crush and destroy all kingdoms / throw heaven and earth in heaps / and against a kingdom in which he alone will rule / which will never be destroyed [...] and for ever will stay upright. " [21] While the end is a horror to the wicked, it is consolation for the penitent. The impressive descriptions of the apocalyptic horrors reaching into the present corresponded to images of the people of God united with Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem [22].

The Lutheran penitential sermon from the time of the Thirty Years' War is also a sensitive indicator, if not of the moral and social conditions as such, then at least of their perception by theologians. Because they knew they were called to account for the communities entrusted to them. That is why public or private penance by responsible preachers [23] up to the threshold of pietism [24] was the epitome of spiritual administration. In analogy to the saying: "Soft & mild doctors / make lazy, stinking wounds" one formulated: "also mild soul doctors / make stinking soul wounds". [25] Not social discipline, but the removal of barriers to salvation was the primary concern of Lutheran penance sermons and church discipline, also and especially in times of war that were accompanied by processes of social decomposition.

In its basic tendency, the Lutheran penitential sermon aims to purify one's own congregation and church, the people of God, the elect of God addressed by the gospel sermons, or to purify them because of their entanglement in "worldly abominations" such as "blasphemy / cursing / mineid / hurery" [26] to punish. With regard to the concrete way of dealing with the political challenges of war, the Sermon of Penance acts as a critical corrective to a Protestant war policy under Gustav Adolf's leadership, which strives for "fat pretenders, not [...] religion", the "country and people dared the tips of the sword "and the innocent, also" fellow believers "," frawn and Jungfrawen "," yes, a lot of 1000 people miserably delivered to the fleisch banck ". [27] Among the "anti-war prophets" [28] increasingly being pushed into heterodox milieus, corresponding appeals of penance, often combined with chiliastic views, played a prominent role.

Lutheran theologians fundamentally rejected theories of justification for "holy wars" in the name of religion. They taught that "one [...] should not strive against a heretical superiority / when it wants to force the subjects to its heresy / with defense and arms" [29]. In accordance with the trust in God's world regiment, the fight against the anti-Christian papacy should also be carried out with spiritual weapons alone. The real goal of a policy of the Protestant estates was aimed at achieving the restitution of the Augsburg religious peace of 1555, which had guaranteed the "Augsburg confessional relatives" their political life in the Union of the Reich. The Edict of Restitution of 1629, which crowned the emperor's military successes and reveals the "absolute priority" of his "counter-Reformation catholicity" [30], certainly brought about a new kind of military oppression of Protestantism, which also had an effect on the spiritual and theological processing of the war question. The Leipzig Convention of numerous Lutheran and Reformed imperial estates and imperial cities of 1631, the political goal of which had been the establishment of a third power between the emperor and Sweden and which, in addition to the political rapprochement of the denominationally separated imperial estates and imperial cities, also promoted denominational theological understanding [31] accompanied by politically and militarily offensive theological patterns of interpretation that were untypical for German Lutheranism. [32] This tendency is particularly reflected in the sermons of the Dresden court preacher Matthias Hoë von Hoënegg [33], who was in the service of the Electorate of Saxony must be awarded. In his opening sermon on the 83rd Psalm, a lament of the people of Israel in the face of a covenant of enemies [34], Hoë interprets the situation of the evangelical classes understood as the people of God in analogy to God's people Israel and refers to the psalm phrase "We want the houses of God take "(Ps 83:13) on the imperial edict of restitution. The enemies of God are the ligists sworn to the "Roman Antichrist" [35], whose covenant is directed against God himself.The people of God got into trouble because they "have not yet done right or have done enough penance" [36]; but if it repents "today / today", God will turn to him again, he will crush the enemy, he will send "tools", even a "noble hero", "who will quickly tear the papacy down" [37] and who would wage the Lord's war [38]. The oppressed situation of Protestantism and the obvious intention of the opposing side to "oppose the Pope everywhere" [39] call for warfare for the sake of religion. Already before the military alliance of Kursachsen and Kurbrandenburg with Gustav Adolf in the summer of 1631, whose appearance was mostly greeted euphorically by German Lutherans and in salvation-historical categories - not infrequently against the background of the Paracelsian promise of a " Löwen aus Mitternacht "[40] - was interpreted, so far completely uncharacteristic conceptions of German Lutheranism also came to the fore in sermons. The heated decision-making situation, dramatically exacerbated by the fall of Magdeburg [41], seemed to be the beginning of the end of the story, the apocalyptic battle between the children of light and the forces of darkness.

The theological-salvation-historical legitimation of warfare in the name of faith is of course an instructive but subordinate aspect, judged on the whole of the Lutheran production of sermons during the war. And even if one adhered to the divine mission of Gustavus Adolphus, it was The aim of a definitive annihilation of the Roman Antichrist with the further progress of the war in Electoral Saxony and the territories close to it withdrawn to the pragmatic aim of the Prague Separate Peace of 1635, which is admittedly highly controversial because of the abandonment of a coalition of a common Protestant coalition. [42] The theological and legal justification of the Peace of Prague, which was presented by Lutheran theologians in reports, sermons and pamphlets, legitimized the abandonment of Protestant religious freedom in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Austria with the ius reformandi of the imperial ruler and thus moved along the line favored by Lutheran theologians, which gave unconditional priority to the preservation or restitution of the Augsburg religious peace and the imperial constitution. For the most prominent Lutheran theologian of the time, Professor Johann Gerhard from Jenens, the affirmation of the political peace of reason in Prague was a reason to thank God and - admittedly untimely - hope that "Germany, which is only experiencing death now, will lift its tortured members from the bed . " [43]

The peace that was finally concluded in 1648 was primarily - it seems - celebrated by the Protestants [44] and acknowledged by Protestant theologians in sermons of thanks, which were mostly given on the occasion of the Nuremberg execution deadline on June 20, 1650 and which appeared in print. In the foreground was the permanent safeguarding of the worldly order of life and one's own denomination. At the same time, hopes of an intensification of religion were connected with the conclusion of peace: "The right religion adorned with Creutz and book / Will also be brought in with the peace at the same time", it said in an Augsburg leaflet. [45]

In their sermons of thanks, the Lutheran theologians insisted that peace was a gift from God, which should be met in a serious sense of penance. A criticism of the peace treaty, which referred to the fact that the papacy had not been finally destroyed and the chiliastic expectation of a fifth kingdom of saints had not been realized, was sharply opposed by Lutheran theologians such as the Esslingen preacher and later Professor Tobias Wagner from Tübingen. [46] Wagner countered this theological-political assessment with the view that the Fourth Monarchy, the Roman Empire, which would exist until the end of the world, had been "put in security and tranquility" [47] by the Westphalian Peaceworks. The restitution of the Fourth Monarchy let "all profane thoughts" [48], which see the peace treaty merely as a work of human prudence, take a back seat. With the peace brought about by God, the church is granted a "time of grace" in which "the Evangelical Church has air again"; it is a prelude to "Eternal Glory" [49], but at the same time an occasion to remember the need to repent, to make peace with God and to be mindful of the coming judgment. With this attitude the Lutheran peace preachers made a significant contribution to the religious and theological affirmation of an order of peace that was supposed to have a lasting paralyzing effect on the religious conflict in the empire.

The view taken by the Strasbourg theologian Johann Conrad Dannhauer that the Peace of Westphalia is a "most dangerous [r] fride" [50] because it gives rise to worldly happiness and unrepentantness and therefore discourages the necessary arming for the approaching Judgment Day seems on the other hand, it was not characteristic of the way of dealing with peace that was widespread in Lutheranism. The danger invoked by Dannhauer was that one now believed to be "free of God's statutes" and only had to be guided by "politics and the course of the world" [51]. Dannhauer's position was in an immediate tension to an attitude to life that, after thirty years of diminution and threat, wanted to surrender to the worldly hope of earthly happiness.

Even the joy of peace of the Lutheran preachers in the face of the Peace of Westphalia was - without prejudice to all emphatic affirmation of this good gift of God - accompanied by the memory of the penalty of the Lord of history experienced during the war and the constant admonition to repent. For the Lutheran peace preachers, the praise of the secular and political peace, which was almost unreservedly affirmed, was at the same time a call to return to the God of peace: "So we have an extremely great cause, indeed to rejoice with heartfelt humility to God's honor and praise and to say: It is peace , He is torn out of the jaws of peace-haters and bloodthirsty false people, but not: there is absolutely no danger, but rather to deprive us of all security and to approach the peace that has appeared from heaven with godly zeal, devotion, prayer and fervent real gratitude. " [52]

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REMARKS - List of symbols for references

1. Research into the sermon in early modern Lutheranism has received a great deal of attention recently, see only Beutel 1996; Haag 1992; Hagenmaier 1989; Holtz 1993; Kaufmann 1997, pp. 435-602; Krešlins 1992; Rehermann 1977; Rublack 1988 and 1992a; on the piety-historical processing of growing plausibility problems of the Lutheran sermon in the late 17th century instructive Sträter 1995.
2. See also Graff 1994.
3. Instructive on this Lehmann 1996a.
4. See Schorn-Schütte 1996.
5. See Kaufmann 1997, pp. 251ff.
6. See Krummacher 1976, especially pp. 46-68.
7. From this point of view of the culture-defining pericopes in Lutheranism, questions arise regarding the characterization of Lutheran-Orthodox Christianity as a "catechism Christianity" recently proposed by Johannes Wallmann, see Wallmann 1994.
8. Cf. only Hägglund 1951; Halverscheid 1971; Hoffmann 1973; Reventlow 1997.
9. Lenz 1990 gives a comprehensive insight into the problems of the source genre; see also Winkler 1967; Kaufmann 1998, p. 83ff.
10. Lenz 1990 gives a comprehensive insight into the problems of the source genre; see also Winkler 1967; Kaufmann 1998, p. 83ff.
11. See Beutel 1996, p. 300.
12. A compact overview of Mühlenberg 1996, especially p. 99f., Provides information on how the reformers and the old Protestant theologians deal with the church fathers.
13. Cf. for example with reference to eschatology in connection with Book 9 of the "Loci theologici" Johann Gerhards a cycle of sermons by Johann Matthäus Meyfarts: Trunz 1987, pp. 113-162, esp. 140.
14. Cf. on this Leube 1975a, especially p. 73, and in connection with Leube: Haag 1992, especially p. 415.
15. Cf. only Schönstädt 1978; Kastner 1982; Oelke 1992, especially p. 415ff; Kaufmann 1998, pp. 10-23.
16. Quistorp 1633, p. 17; see also pages 33; 163; 315; 317; 431; 493. About Quistorp last electricity 1995; Merchant 1997, passim.
17. So also the judgment in Lehmann 1980, p. 123.
18. On the background, see Wallmann 1995b; Brecht 1993, passim, esp. P. 100ff .; 219ff .; 230ff.
19. Quoted in Trunz 1987, pp. 133f .; on Meyfart's homiletics see Steiger 1995.
20. Quistorp 1629, p. 199.
21. Quistorp 1629, pp. 194f.
22. See for example Meyfart 1980, Appendix pp. 3-11.
23. See Schilling 1994; Rublack 1993; see also Kaufmann 1997, p. 197ff; Schorn-Schütte 1996, p. 371ff.
24. See Obst 1972; Bezzel 1982.
25. Quistorp 1633, pp. 405f.
26. Roselius 1632, p. 6; see p. 90f.
27. Roselius 1632, p. 47f.
28. Brecht 1993, pp. 218-221.
29. Consilia 1664, p. 170 (report from 1619/20).
30. Schmidt 1995, p. 43.
31. See Leube 1966, p. 123ff; Nischau 1994, p. 236ff.
32. See all of Tschopp 1991.
33. On him, see Tschopp 1991, passim; Daniel 1996; Hertrampf 1970; last summer 1995 to the Saxon and Brandenburg-Prussian court preachers; important to the policy of the Electorate of Saxony Gotthard 1993.
34. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631.
35. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631, C4v; E2r / v.
36. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631. B3r.
37. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631a, p. 13f.
38. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631b, p. 82.
39. Hoë von Hoënegg 1631b, p. 45.
40. See Zschoch 1994, pp. 25-50.
41. See Tschopp 1991 as well as the comprehensive material overview by Lahne 1931.
42. On the lively Lutheran Reformed controversial journalism, see the study by Hitzigrath 1880, which was instructive with regard to the presentation of the material.
43. Quoted from Johann Gerhard's translation of the "Elegia Eucharistica" from July 1635 by Baur 1993a, here p. 356.
44. I was not only impressed by the review of von Harms 1980ff. published volumes of leaflets, but also the bibliography by Duchhardt 1996, which mainly lists some peace sermons by Protestant theologians, but no corresponding texts or prints by Catholic theologians.
45. "Augspurgischer Frieden = Wagen", quoted from the edition in Harms 1980ff., II, no. 321, p. 559.
46. ​​Wagner 1651, p. 4ff; on Wagner last bag 1996a.
47. Wagner 1651, T. 2, p. 21.
48. Wagner 1651, T. 2, p. 26.
49. Wagner 1651, T. 2, p. 39f.
50. Dannhauer 1650, p. 26; see Wallmann 1995a, esp. 96ff.
51. Dannhauer 1650, p. 23.
52. Dorsch [e] (1650), here p. 251.