How to be a Theologian

“Firstly, you should know that the holy Scrip­tures con­sti­tute a book which turns the wis­dom of all other books into fool­ish­ness, because not one teaches about eter­nal life except this one alone. There­fore you should straight­away despair of your rea­son and under­stand­ing… But kneel down in your lit­tle room and pray to God with real humil­ity and earnest­ness, that He through His dear Son may give you His Holy Spirit, Who will enlighten you, lead you, and give you understanding.

“Sec­ondly, you should med­i­tate, that is, not only in your heart, but also exter­nally, by actu­ally repeat­ing and com­par­ing oral speech and lit­eral words of the book, read­ing and reread­ing them with dili­gent atten­tion and reflec­tion, so that you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them. And take care that you do not grow weary or think that you have done enough when you have read, heard, and spo­ken them once or twice, and that you will then have com­plete under­stand­ing. You will never be a par­tic­u­larly good the­olo­gian if you do that, for you will be like untimely fruit which falls to the ground before it is half ripe.

“Thirdly, there is ten­ta­tio, testing. This is the touch­stone which teaches you not only to know and under­stand but also to expe­ri­ence how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how com­fort­ing God’s Word is, wis­dom beyond all wis­dom… For as soon as God’s Word takes root and grows in you, the devil will harry you, and will make a real doc­tor of you, and by his assaults [the anguish] will teach you to seek and love God’s Word.”

By Martin Luther, “Pref­ace to the Ger­man Writ­ings” (1539)


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