The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Sola scriptura'

Where do science and experience fit?

In "Where the 'Journey' led," Dwayne Head (August, page 24) expressed frustration about the sexuality study process "because [it] relegates the Bible to a co-equal position with science, tradition and experience in dealing with this important issue."

When Martin Luther proclaimed sola scriptura (God's word alone) in defiance of church tradition, the Roman Catholic Church split. Luther's Reformation weakened the temporal power of the church, enabling freethinking and the progress of modern Western society. Luther remained medieval too: He argued that the world was flat — quoting Scripture while making fun of the likes of Copernicus (Table Talk, pages 358-359). Luther was faithful to "word alone."

Today scientific research shapes our experience of the world. Study of biology and genetics promises more dramatic medical treatment and cures, changing also how human differences are understood. At the same time, long-held social attitudes based on Scripture are questioned and challenged.

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February issue


Embracing diversity