Thompson looks closely at famous words attributed to Martin Luther: ‘Here I stand’
September 19, 2017
In the seventh installment of Theological Conversations for 2017, the Theology, Formation and Evangelism ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presents Seeking a Correctable Conscience by John L. Thompson of Fuller Theological Seminary.
Seeking a Correctable Conscience — with the subheading Here I stand … but d’you mind checking my exegesis?” — looks closely at the words “Here I stand,” attributed to Martin Luther during the Reformation. Thompson’s paper is designed to create conversations about “freedom of conscience,” a topic that Christians have discussed for centuries — ever since Martin Luther spoke of his conscience being “captive to the Word of God.”
“Presbyterians will say, ‘Christ alone is Lord of the conscience,’ to defend our opinions,” says the Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, coordinator of Theological Education and Seminary Relations. “What we often mean is that Christ’s lordship is the same thing as our opinion and viewpoint.”
But as Thompson points out, “conscience can fail us in a number of ways,” which is why Bartel, who oversees Theological Conversations, is “grateful for his paper.”
“Conscience can be a tricky thing to hold accountable,” she says. “Using our own history and theology as a denomination, Thompson reminds us that while conscience is a guide for us, it also needs a guide. In that sense, conscience is communal.”
For Presbyterians, she says, that guide is the Word of God —Scripture bearing witness to Jesus.
“A true understanding of Scripture comes when we study it in community,” says Bartel. “That is how we hold each other accountable. Thompson does a masterful job reminding us of this.”
Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Video and Digital Asset Management, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: ‘Theological Conversations’
Let us join in prayer for:
Fuller Theological Seminary Staff
John L. Thompson, Professor of Historical Theology
Alexis D. Abernethy, Professor of Psychology
Leslie C. Allen, Senior Professor of Old Testament
Keon-Sang An, Associate Professor of Bible and Mission
Steven C. Argue, Assistant Professor of Youth, Family and Culture
Tina R. Armstrong, Professor of Clinical Psychology
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
O Christ, keep us aware and responsive to the ways you are calling us to be creative in our lives and in the sharing of your good news. Amen.