In view of the unregulated way in which enthusiasts were forcing their way into congregations, Luther was already convinced in the fall of 1524 that ordination to the ministerial office was necessary. For himself, as before, his ordination to the priesthood had this significance. But he had to convince the congregation that ordination was not a sacrament that set the minister apart from the priesthood of all believers, but a human election and commission to the church's service. It was not only the congregation, but the minister as well, who had to be convinced of his great task, one which could bring him to despair. For Luther such Anfechtung was part of a pastor's existence. When Spalatin wanted to resign his Altenburg pastorate in 1528 because he felt unqualified, Luther interpreted these misgivings as evidence of a divine call; in contrast, he was suspicious of a minister who felt confident.Whereas everywhere else Luther seems to want consciences to be sure not only in their forgiveness and salvation in Christ but also in that what they were doing was the right thing, here the minister needs to live with a certain dissonance. Part of being a theologian, and this would apply to the rest of us, too, was to suffer Anfechtung. But especially the pastor charged with the most holy office and care of souls would have to suffer doubts about himself, his ability and his work, since it is too high and difficult to perform always correctly. And to him also, or even more so, the battle is given against sin, death and devil. As always, he needs to rely on God, on his mercy and on an external call (for the sake of his conscience).
Such a joyous Gaudete!
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