04 December 2006
Oratory not a substitute for Truth
Table Talk No. 3975: Church Fathers Do Not Adhere to Scriptures August 24, 1538
Then there was talk about the writings of the church fathers on the Bible and how these left the reader in uncertainty. He [Martin Luther] responded,
“I’m not allowed to make judgments about them because they’re writers of recognized authority and I’m compelled to be an apostate. But let him who wishes read them, and Chrysostom in particular. He was the supreme orator, but how he digressed from the thing at hand to other matters! While I was lecturing on the letter to the Hebrews and consulted Chrysostom, [I found that] he wrote nothing about the contents of the letter.
I believe that as the greatest orator Chrysostom had plenty of hearers but that he taught without fruit. For it ought to be the primary and principal function of a preacher to reflect upon the substance, contents, and sum total of the matter and instruct his hearer accordingly. Once this is done the preacher can use rhetoric and exhort.”
Luther, M. Vol. 54:304 Luther's works, Table Talk