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Roland Bainton on Luther’s Preaching

“On Saturday, he wrote what he intended to say. On Sunday, his students took down what he did say. And on Monday, he wrote out what he wished he’d said.”  That is how Roland Bainton described Martin Luther’s preaching,  Luther preached by what some have called “conzepts”.  They were brief noted that he would expand upon and explicate in simple and profound ways.  One day a sermon might go one direction and another day a completely different direction.  Luther used a text and wrung every drop of meaning out of it.  He wanted it done simple and understandably.

Preaching simply and efficiently is not easy.  One has to include in getting ready for preaching your own foibles and issues, the congregations issues and foibles and the general drift of humanity.  What might be a comforting and hopeful sermon to one can be an offensive harangue to someone else.  And then as Luther says, “the defects of a preacher are soon spied. Let him be endued with ten virtues, and have but one fault, and that one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts, so evil is the world in these times.”


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