John Kleinig writes;
“Luther was a theological educator who thought hard and long about
the learning of theology. At various times he touched on it from different
points of view. While he, of all people, valued the liberal arts as the
foundation for a good theological education, he knew that, by itself, even
the best curriculum, taught by the best theologians, could not produce a
good pastor. Something else was required. Learning theology was a
matter of experience and wisdom gained from experience. To put it in
modern terms, the right practice of evangelical spirituality in the church,
the practice of the vita passiva, the receptive life of faith, makes a
theologian. In theology, as in life, we have nothing that we have not
received and continue to receive (1 Corinthians 47).
Luther developed this insight in a number of different ways. In a
lecture on Psalm 5:11, from around 1520, he asserted, rather bluntly, that
a theologian was not made by “understanding, reading or speculating,” but by “living, no rather by dying and being damned.” Later in his table talk from 1532, he added that like medicine, theology was an art that was learned only from life-long experience. He refers to himself as a pastorand claims:
I did not learn my theology all at once, but had to search constantly
deeper and deeper for it. My temptations did that for me, for no one
can understand Holy Scripture without practice and temptations.
This is what the enthusiasts and sects lack. They don’t have the right critic, the devil, who is the best teacher of theology.If we don’t have that kind of devil, then we become nothing but speculative
theologians, who do nothing but walk around in our own thoughts
and speculate with our reason alone as to whether things should be
like this, or like that “
(Kleinig, 256-257, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio: What Makes a Theologian? in Concordia Theological Quarterly vol. 66:3, July 2002).
[All emphases, mine]