Bound Conscience: Why do some have a problem with it?

The term “bound conscience” has been permanently linked by some to interpretations of Scripture many find objectionable, counter to the plain reading of Scripture, and contrary to predominant traditional Biblical interpretation.  In a different circumstance, the phrase may have been given greater opportunity for consideration.  In fact, “bound conscience” has been a part of our life together as Christians since the very beginning.  More will be said about that later.

The term “bound conscience” for some has the implication that tolerance of all views (right or wrong) becomes the new norm for Biblical interpretation.  This is often seen as taking Scripture’s role of communicating God’s truth and replacing it with far less valuable human relativism.  If this is true, then Scripture loses its authority, and the result is that there is doubt about everything Scripture says.  The entire role of Scripture ordering our lives, our society, and our future is therefore called into question.  This is a very serious concern.

There is a third consideration which impacts on our understanding of bound conscience.  The term is only to be used when I am attempting to address someone else’s honest engagement with scripture, and we draw very different conclusions.  It is not to be used to insist that someone agree with me or respect my conclusions about scripture.  The reasons for that should become clearer as we explore the scriptural basis for bound conscience.

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


2 responses to “Bound Conscience: Why do some have a problem with it?

  1. The problem I have is that I hear some use the “bound conscience” argument to justify leaving the ELCA. “Well that’s my bound conscience to leave. But the whole concept is to help keep the community whole – so i think if you leave the community you have rejected bound conscience and no longer can use that argument.

    • ponderingpastor

      Absolutely. Bound conscience is bound to an understanding of scripture, not to a decision or strategy. It is inappropriate for it to be used to justify an action to leave the ELCA. In future installments, this will become even more clear, especially as related to the scriptural piece.

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