concience as captive to the Word of God

While many of the criticisms that Roman Catholics and the Orthodox direct at Protestant use of the Bible are legitimate, both the Catholic appeal to magisterial teaching authority and the Orthodox appeal to unbroken liturgical tradition appear to me to have just as serious problems in using Scripture as Protestants do–though their problems are admittedly different. Nonetheless, especially as a Protestant historian, I’m very much aware that if Martin Luther’s appeal to his conscience as captive to the Word of God solved some very important problems, it also created other and quite serious problems as well.

…The Bible per se is too easily the source of what Luther called “delusions” that arise when the individual conscience runs wild through the scriptural landscape. Instead of the Bible per se, Luther presented the Bible as narrating a particular account of how God encounters human kind. That account is certainly biblical, but it is the narration or message of redemption in Scripture as a whole that can become satisfactory grounding for Christian learning.

“The Place of Scripture in the Modern Christian University” by Mark Noll from The Cresset (June 2011) pages 10 and 12.

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