It has been a while since we had some Table Talk. For those of you new to Planet Augsburg, Martin Luther’s Table Talk is a collection of his sayings, mostly off the cuff, transcribed by his students and friends sitting at his table during evening meals. One imagines that the good Docktor, his belly full from a hearty meal, would kick back with a pint and hold court. These conversations ranged far and wide.

I wish to dedicate the following selections, on preachers and preaching, to Catechismatic95. He will be headed to the Seminary in St. Louis this Summer. However, I have warned him that this should only increase his blogging!

First, No. 422, in which Luther lists the elements of a good preacher:

A preacher should be a logician and a rhetorician, that is, he must be able to teach, and to admonish; when he preaches touching an article, he must, first, distinguish it. Secondly, he must define, describe, and show what it is. Thirdly, he must produce sentences out of the Scriptures, therewith to prove and strengthen it. Fourthly, he must, with examples, explain and declare it. Fifthly, he must adorn it with similitudes; and, lastly, he must admonish and rouse up the lazy, earnestly reprove all the disobedient, all false doctrine, and the authors thereof; yet, not out of malice and envy, but only to God’s honor, and the profit and saving health of the people.

Next, No. 411, in which Luther offers some practical advice for young preachers fearful of their first sermons.

When a man first comes into the pulpit, he is much perplexed to see so many heads before him. When I stand there I look upon none, but imagine they are all blocks that are before me.

I think this is the 16th century equivalent of advising someone to imagine the audience in their underwear! I believe this was also the subject of a classic Brady Bunch episode in which Marsha has to overcome her fear of public speaking. I wish I could find the video to that somewhere . . .