Today the Church commemorates Johann Gerhard, Theologian. Gerhard was born in 1582 and devoted his life to studying theology and Scripture. Our devotion comes from Celebrating the Saints.
Gerhard studied both at Wittenberg and at Jena, from which he graduated in 1605. He accepted an appointment by Johann Casimir to serve as superintendent of Heldburg. In short time, the gifts of the man were so evident that he was appointed the superintendent of the entire duchy. He remained in this position until 1616, after which he became a professor at Jena and remained there till his death, despite numerous calls to serve elsewhere.
His early brush with death and the great comfort he received from his pastor left their mark on him. Out of the furnace of that affliction, the Lord raised up a mighty servant of the Word. Gerhard never let piety come unglued from dogma. He was first and foremost a man of prayer. It breathes from start to finish in all his writings. Still in his youth, he wrote his Sacred Meditations, which have remained a beloved and treasured classic of Christian devotional literature. His sermon collections (postilla) are noteworthy for his consistent discovery in the Old Testament of foreshadowings of Christ. His longest work was his massive Loci Communes Theologici. In the tradition of Melanchthon and Chemnitz, every doctrine of theology was traced to its roots in Scripture and its apprehension and misapprehension across the centuries of the Church’s history investigated. Unlike earlier Lutheran theological books, Gerhard freely employed all the categories of Aristotelian philosophy. The result was a crisp, lucid expression of the doctrine of Scripture as articulated by the Lutheran Church. It ran to some twenty-two volumes.
Gerhard was truly a great teacher, a preacher of Christ, a man of prayer who teaches us how to meditate upon the commands and promises of God so as to be comforted in conscience and strengthened in faith. As a theologian of the Lutheran Church he is usually ranked right behind Martin Chemnitz.
Devotion is adapted from Celebrating the Saints by William C. Weedon, page 144–45 © 2016 William C. Weedon; published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, through the ministry and teaching of Johann Gerhard You have blessed Your Church and built up Your people in the holy faith. Continue to provide to Your Church teachers who will proclaim Your truth with zeal and with great kindness and love; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer is from Celebrating the Saints by William C. Weedon, page 145 © 2016 William C. Weedon; published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.