Bound Conscience: Where does the term come from?

The term “bound conscience” has its origins in Romans and 1st Corinthians, but is also clearly represented in Acts and other New Testament writings.  Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon both use the term [conscience] “to apply to the entire person as we stand before God and view ourselves in the light of God’s Word, understood as Law and Gospel.”  It also is derived from Luther’s famous “Here I Stand” speech,

Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in the councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God (emphasis mine). I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. (LW 36: 112)

I believe it is important to remember that when Luther stated that his “conscience is captive to the Word of God” that he was referring to a “new reading” of scripture.  His interpretation of scripture contradicted the traditional reading of scripture related to justification and grace.  I will say more about this later.

(My thanks to The Rev. Dr. Timothy Wingert for a significant portion of this material.)

Pondering Pastor

What is Bound Conscience?

Where does the term come from?

Why is reference to Bound Conscience considered by some to be a problem?

What is the Scriptural Basis for “Bound Conscience”?

Doesn’t Scripture argue against Bound Conscience?

How does Martin Luther contribute to our understanding of Bound Conscience?

Bound Conscience as we presently live it.

Challenges from those opposing Bound Conscience

Bound Conscience and the current controversy

On a Personal Note

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