Scripture and Moral Discernment
The primary source for distinctively Christian insight is Scripture. It is the authoritative source and norm of this church’s proclamation, faith and life. The quest for understanding requires Christian communities to let the word of Christ dwell in them deeply so that whatever they do in word or deed may be done in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:16-17). As Luther claimed, Scripture is the very cradle which holds the Christ Child. The words of Scripture reveal and carry the living Word to us. Lutherans read the Bible to encounter a living Christ.
Through Scripture and sacrament, the living presence of Christ continues to be revealed today. As the basis for Christian ethics, Scripture functions as both law and gospel to reveal God’s heart and the reality of the human situation. Scripture provides the Ten Commandments, teaches the law of love and values the conscience. It also reminds Christians that they cannot discover God’s intention for Christian morality simply by observing nature or the world. Scripture teaches that God’s will for humankind and creation can be comprehended only through the foolishness of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
Lutherans understand that Scripture sometimes can be abused and misunderstood through selective use as a moral guide. Bible verses once were used, for example, to justify slavery. Scripture passages have been cited both by legalists and by those who seek to live as if there is no need for law under the gospel. Particularly in the area of sexuality, the Bible can be misused to support an ethics of legalism on one hand or an ethics of relativity on the other. For this reason the Lutheran Confessions are particularly focused on protecting the purity of the gospel and properly distinguishing God’s promises from God’s commands.
Scripture cannot be used in isolation as the norm for Christian life and the source of knowledge for the exercise of moral judgment. Scripture sheds light on human experience and culture. At the same time, society’s changing circumstances and growing knowledge help us to see how Scripture can speak to us. Scripture, especially in the law, must be interpreted continually under the Spirit’s guidance within the Church and in thoughtful dialogue with insights of culture and human knowledge.
This is portions of the draft statement that the ELCA is working on. Individuals and churches and synods will be sharing their voices and concenrs and then the process begins for adoption (more on that later). Over the next few weeks, as I read this statement and learn more about it, I will share it and see advice.
With some of the conversations that i have been having with the "Bible", I thought that this might be a good section to begin with.
Thus what sayeth you when it comes to Scripture and Moral Discernment ?