From the Archives: Examining the Candidate
One of the immediate concerns of Henry M. Muhlenburg when he arrived in Pennsylvania in 1742 was the improvement of the quality of the clergy in the colonial Lutheran churches. To aid this process, Muhlenburg created a series of questions to examine candidates for the ordained ministry. While the author is concerned with loyalty to the historic Lutheran position, evidences are apparent of his “reverend fathers in Halle.”
The selection is excerpted from The Documentary History of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States 1748–1821(1898).
I. The candidate is to prepare a sketch of his life, giving, in as brief a compass as possible, an account of its chief events and of his academical studies. As this may readily become too extensive, it will suffice, if he briefly narrate: 1. His first awakening; 2. How God furthered the work of grace in his heart; 3. What moved him to study for the holy ministry, and where, in what branches and under whose direction, he has attempted to prepare himself.
II. What theological books does he have?
III. Mention the Chief Divisions of Theology, and answer the following questions concerning—1 . What is Theology? 2. A general answer to the question: What is Sin, and a more specific statement as to what is Original Sin? 3. Describe the Sin against the Holy Ghost; 4. Give an extended description of the Justification of the Sinner before God, and confirm it with proof texts: 5. What is Saving Faith? 6. Whether and in how far are good works necessary to Salvation? 7. What is Sanctification, and how is it promoted? 8. In how far is Death the Wages of Sin (a), in the converted, (b), in the unconverted?
IV. Whether our Evangelical Lutheran is the only justifying and saving faith, and upon what scriptural foundations does it rest?
V. Give an exegetical explanation of Luke 16:8.
VI. Prepare from this the theme and skeleton of a sermon, with application.
VII. Describe the true character and duties of an evangelical preacher.
VIII. How an evangelical preacher should conduct himself towards the dying who confess that they are sinners in general, without confessing any special sin?
IX. Whether, and in how far evangelical preachers can and should be in subordination to one another? The answers, with the questions and proofs, to be neatly written out, and to be ready for submission by three o’ clock tomorrow afternoon.
All for the glory of God, and the good of the Church!
Copyright © 1986 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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