45930 Divine Call CTCR final - The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


45930 Divine Call CTCR final - The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

they were never without some role. At the very least, they had the right of

refusal or veto power over a candidate. A few examples may suffice.

In the heartland of Luther’s Reformation, the domains of the Ernestine

branch of the Wettin family, the grandsons of Elector John the Magnanimous,

the confessor of Augsburg, issued instructions for ecclesiastical visitors

in 1554. These instructions laid down a procedure for replacing a pastor

who had died. The elders (Kirchenveter) of the congregation were to

inform the ecclesiastical superintendent of the area within a day of the pastor’s

death. He then was to provide pastoral care through a neighboring

pastor for a month. During that month the superintendent, together with

the members of the congregation (Pfarrkinder) and its noble patron, was to

designate a candidate for the pastorate. This candidate was to preach two

or three times in the congregation. If the entire congregation, or a good

majority of them (along with the noble patron), found him acceptable they

were to inform the superintendent in writing. This report was to include

an evaluation of the candidate’s teaching and life, his nature and conduct.

The superintendent would then obtain princely confirmation of the call,

after which he could proceed with ordination, if necessary, and installation.

Such a candidate was also to submit to a theological examination

before the court preachers of the dukes and his chaplains, with a trial sermon

(often called a Probepredigt as one part of their review). 30

In Albertine Saxony, to which the electoral title and the lands around

Wittenberg passed in 1547, procedures were similar, although with variations.

Town councils and congregations were to choose their pastors and

then send them to the superintendent. The superintendent would conduct

the examination of the candidate’s teaching and life before sending him on

to Wittenberg with his and the town council’s recommendation. There the

new candidate would be confirmed by the elector, further examined by the

theological faculty, and then ordained. 31 After the publication of the Formula

of Concord in 1580 Jacob Andreae and his colleagues composed a

new ecclesiastical constitution for Elector August. It provided rather extensive

details regarding candidates for the pastoral office. Andreae and his

colleagues were concerned that no congregation have a pastor imposed on

them against their will. Local governmental officers were to make certain

that no nomination come from the local congregation through its superintendent

unless the congregation had first heard “several public sermons”

from the candidate. The superintendent also had to ask the people of the


Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, ed. Emil Sehling et al., I

(Leipzig: Reisland, 1902), 226.


Sehling, 313, 321.


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