Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More on Bound Conscience

When discussion of the ELCA ensues, the direction of the conversation tends to go one of two ways. Either its, “Can you believe that the ELCA is accepting homosexual behavior and is allowing homosexual pastors to preach?” or, “Why shouldn’t the LGTB community be accepted fully into the communion of the church with all rights and privileges, including having their unions blessed and allowing gay and lesbian pastors to preach?” Both of these arguments actually miss the real point of contention. In the ELCA’s “good intentioned” desire to be more welcoming and accepting of the LGTB community, they sought a way to legitimize the LGTB lifestyle. Bound conscience was conceived by Biblical scholars as a way to allow one to respect another’s interpretation of Scripture, as long as that person truly believes in their heart of hearts that it is acceptable to God. In the matter of human sexuality, this bound conscience allows one to respect those that believe that the LGTB lifestyle is acceptable in God’s eyes. The fact is that there is no Biblical authority for this bound conscience and allowing this bound conscience to supersede the authority of Scripture are the real issues.

In John 16:13-15, Jesus told the Apostles, "But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you." In these verses, Jesus tells the Apostles that He, through the Holy Spirit, will lead them in their testimonies. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ absolutely confirms that the writings of the Apostles are the inspired Word of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the Apostle Paul testified that “All Scripture is God-breathed”. Who are we to disregard Scripture and place our own opinions before His Word? What has become acceptable in the secular world is often not acceptable in God’s eyes. If we choose to ignore God’s Word, we are not unlike disobedient children. We do not replace God’s Word with those that happen to be more appealing to us.

So, the ELCA has, by adopting this doctrine of bound conscience, placed man in authority over Scripture. This is the reason that every Christian should be concerned as to the direction of the ELCA. When man’s opinion takes authority over God’s law, we find ourselves in a quandary. Do we remain part of this denomination, nail our 95 theses on the church door and fight to have this doctrine repealed or do we leave for a synod grounded in Scripture? What happens when human sexuality is not the only part of Scripture supplanted by our bound conscience? The Reformation began in the 1500’s after the Catholic Church adopted man’s law and used it to replace God’s Word. (See indulgences) History repeats itself and our modern and enlightened church leaders feel a need to place their desires above God’s law, and another Reformation begins. Unfortunately, the leaders of the ELCA are doing more than disregarding God's Word, they are leading our brothers and sisters in Christ astray. Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come." Many will accept this false doctrine and learn to place more authority over earthly opinions, especially, as in “Human Sexuality-Gift and Trust”, if it means taking the easier path.

As Jesus hung on the cross, bearing OUR sins, God terminated His relationship with Jesus, causing Him to cry out in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God’s rejection of His Son was intended for us as the penalty for our sin. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did this in our stead, so that we did not have to endure this great punishment that we so rightly deserve. When we place ourselves above the Lord, we push God aside and like a petulant child, turn away from Him, making our Lord’s sacrifice for us into a mockery. We need to bring ourselves closer to the Lord, not push Him away. God’s people must stand against this false doctrine of bound conscience. Do not fall into this trap that has been set by the leaders of the ELCA. We all are sinners, no better and no worse than any other child of God, and our Lord calls us to accept and love all sinners, no matter what their sin may be. John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Although this command was directed at his disciples, it also pertains to each and every one of us, as we are also His disciples. Our Lord desires our love and obedience. This bound conscience will only cause us to turn away from the Lord and suffer the loss of His presence. We cannot place ourselves before our Lord, who sacrificed all for us, in order to satisfy our selfish desires. If we diminish His sacrifice for us by accepting this false gospel, we jeopardize our gift of eternal life with Him.

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