And don’t ever forget that for Luther and for the Reformers, the Church in its true nature is a Spiritual matter Luther also called it invisible; spiritual and invisible is usually the same in him; it is an object of faith and cannot be shown. And so when you tell somebody who criticizes you because of the Church, and you say: “Yes, it is a quite good institution; there are many good people who come out of it; some people in it are much more serious than some secular people; some are very willing to sacrifice, and the moral standards are always very high, on the average higher than other groups in all this you are right, but you don’t speak of the Church. And then the next day you can find that you were much too optimistic and you find out it is rather miserable, what you say. This is not the basis of faith. The basis of faith is exclusively the foundation of the Church, namely Christ, the sacrament and the Word.
This is Luther’s doctrine of the Church. What about the Church offices? Every Christian is a priest, and therefore has potentially the office of preaching and administering the sacraments. They all belong to the spiritual element. But for the sake of order, some especially fit personalities shall be called by the congregation for this purpose. The ministry is a matter of order. It is a vocation like all other vocations, but it is not a state of perfection or of higher graces or of anything like this. No priest is more a priest than any layman is priest. But he is the “mouthpiece” of the others, because they cannot express themselves and he can.
Therefore only one thing makes the ministers, namely the call of the congregation. Ordination has no sacramental meaning at all. “Ordaining is not consecrating,”he says. “We give in the power of the Word what we have, the authority of preaching the Word and giving the sacraments: that is ordaining.” But this is not producing a higher grade in the relationship to God.