Melancholia - Durer

This engraving by Durer is thought by some to depict the problems that arise from too much study.  I get a lot of that in my life as a Pastor.  There is always someone that wants to tell me of the melancholy that comes from too much study and usually it is by some adult on behalf of some juvenile

This is what Luther said in his commentary on Romans.  “Indoctrination is for those who are ignorant; exhortation for those who know’.

There is nothing wrong with indoctrination, though you would be hard pressed to get any post modern American to agree with that premise.  Indoctrination is simply instructing  in a body of doctrine or principles.  Luther understood that and insisted that a course of instruction be institued for the young and the uneducated.  He said,

I entreat [and adjure] you all for God’s sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office, to have pity on the people who are entrusted to you, and to help us inculcate the Catechism upon the people, and especially upon the young. And let those of you who cannot do better [If any of you are so unskilled that you have absolutely no knowledge of these matters, let them not be ashamed to] take these tables and forms and impress them, word for word, on the people…..

The rote memorization of the catechism is falling by the wayside.  I talk to folks from “other churches” of course that have never even tried to memorize anything in the catechism.  They just spend a lot of time talking about what it mean “in the childs context”.  I wish someone would tell me what that means.  Memorization, as tedious as it is these days is still the best way to learn and get into the heart and head the message of Gods love and compassion for human beings.  Once it is there and being talked and spoken aloud and rehearsed God uses that word as he has always used His word; to create new creatures.  As Luther said, all creatures are “nothing but nouns in the divine language”.  Those who hear the Word and recieve it are new creations.  That is why the Bible Clubs in Kenya are really on the minds and hearts of the Minnesota North and North Dakota Distirct Presidents.  Maybe we can learn something from them.  (See

Those who have received the Word and know it need to be exhorted.  Somedays I think we are falling down on both the indoctrination and the exhortation.  Maybe we need another diatribe like Luther issued when he introduced the Small Cathechism.

The deplorable, miserable condition which I discovered lately when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare [publish] this Catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Good God! what manifold misery I beheld! The common people, especially in the villages, have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and, alas! many pastors are altogether incapable and incompetent to teach [so much so, that one is ashamed to speak of it]. Nevertheless, all maintain that they are Christians, have been baptized and receive the [common] holy Sacraments. Yet they [do not understand and] cannot [even] recite either the Lord’s Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments; they live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs; and yet, now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse all liberty like experts.

That’s tough stuff but it is a kind of exhortation and after all we should know.