Living Faith: Luther, Preaching, and Ethics

Charles L. Campbell

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1990

Issue: Christ and Culture(s) (Vol. 10, No 4, Fall, 1990)

Despite his valuable insights, Gilbert Meilaender has overstated the difference between preaching and ethics. Although Meilaender develops a stimulating Lutheran position, Martin Luther himself offers a different way of thinking about the relationship between preaching and ethics. While also avoiding the moralism of much purportedly “ethical” preaching, Luther’s position nevertheless differs from Meilaender’s in two ways. First, for Luther the sharp distinction between preaching and ethics doesn’t apply. The Reformer’s theology, his understanding of the moral life, and his practice of preaching all blur the distinction that Meilaender wants to make. Second, Luther apparently understood preaching as something more than Meilaender’s ever-repeated dialogue. In fact, Luther’s own sermons, particularly his serial sermons, often took the form of a journey on which the community of faith was nurtured along the way of the Christian pilgrimage.

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