The very fact that several different positions may be bound to Scripture means that we cannot assert one interpretation of Scripture over another but are called to respect consciences in the community of faith on this matter. The emphasis of "conscience-bound" is not on declaring oneself to be conscience-bound; rather it is that we recognize the conscience-bound nature of the convictions of others in the community of Christ. With those words, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, took his stand on the homosexuality issue that the denomination voted on recently. However, as we read in Al Mohler's post from Monday, Luther had a very different view on a bound conscience:
The concept of being bound by conscience goes directly back to Martin Luther, the great Reformer who established what became known as the Lutheran tradition. On more than one famous occasion, Luther publicly took his stand and held his ground, claiming that his conscience was bound by the Word of God. He most famously made this case as he stood on trial before the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521. Before the impaneled church leaders and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Luther declared:"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason ..., I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience."
Of course, Luther was not merely claiming to be bound by conscience. He was specifically claiming that his conscience was bound by the word of God. Luther, unlike the ELCA, believed that the Scriptures offer a very clear presentation of the Gospel and of moral and theological teachings. Luther affirmed the inspiration, authority, sufficiency, and clarity of the word of God and he took his stand on the authority of Scripture alone. The Word of God bound his conscience by its clear teaching.
How disappointing but not totally unexpected. Another denomination bites the dust. We live in a world of compromise and what's worse is that it seems "Christians" take the lead and show the world how to compromise with our deepest beliefs - the Word of God. May our consciences be bound completely and exclusively by the Holy Scriptures that the Lord has so graciously given to us. Read the entire article here.