17 August 2009

Commemoration of Johann Gerhard, Theologian

Today our Synod commemorates the beloved theologian and pastor Johann Gerhard. From the Treasury and Synod's website:

Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) was a great Lutheran theologian in the tradition of Martin Luther (1483–1546) and Martin Chemnitz (1522–86) and the most influential of the 17th-century dogmaticians. His monumental Loci Theologici (23 large volumes) is still considered by many to be a definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy. Gerhard was born in Quedlinburg, Germany. At the age of 15 he was stricken with a life-threatening illness. This experience, along with guidance from his pastor, Johann Arndt, marked a turning point in his life. He devoted the rest of his life to theology. He became a professor at the University of Jena and served many years as the Superintendent of Heldberg. Gerhard was a man of deep evangelical piety and love for Jesus. He wrote numerous books on exegesis, theology, devotional literature, history, and polemics. His sermons continue to be widely published and read.

He is one of my favorite theologians. I have ten of his works that I keep within hand's reach to consult. I confess that I find his sermons and devotional writings to be better than his "scientific" theological works, though he does better than most in always bringing those too down to the living out of the life that is ours in Christ. To find a favorite citation from him is about impossible - too many to choose from - but here is one among many favorites:

Where faith is, there Christ is; where Christ is, there is a holy life, namely true humility, true gentleness, true love. (Sacred Meditation XII)


Past Elder said...

With all our youth groups and talk of involvement therein, I wonder why we always present Gerhard as this old looking guy from centuries past, rather than teach that these magnificent Sacred Meditations that are one of the great works of Lutheranism are the work of a 24 year old with a brand new doctorate about to take his first position!

Anonymous said...

Good question! And a point that might well be made. These guys were doing serious work at a very young age, by present day standards.

FTM, Walther must have been young once. Has nobody got a picture of him with teeth and hair!?


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes.
I suppose it would be silly to ask why Lutherans didn't celebrate J. Gerhard yesterday?


CyberSis said...

He opens His side that I may behold His heart glowing with love for me.

Sacred Meditation VII

Rev. James Leistico said...

not my favorite, but I can't find that right now, so:

The Church is that vine that God has planted in the field of this world, watered with His own
blood, surrounded with the protection of angels, having constructed the winepress of his own passion
in her, having removed the stones and offensive things from her.