The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


ELCA commits to deeper engagement with the Bible

By a 956-68 margin, voting members committed the ELCA to a five-year initiative of “broader and deeper engagement with Scripture.” The nine-point recommendation for “Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible” includes:

Diane Jacobson
Diane Jacobson
• Encouraging “all members, expressions, institutions and partners of this church to commit themselves regularly and increasingly to hearing, reading, studying, sharing and being formed by God’s word.”

• “Raising to a new level this church’s individual and collective engagement with the Bible and its teaching, yielding greater biblical fluency, deeper worship and devotion, and a more profound appreciation of Lutheran principles and approaches for the use of Scripture.”

Diane Jacobson, professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., will serve as director of the initiative. She encouraged ELCA members to “build this initiative together” by exploring Bible studies that accompany the initiative, sharing resources they have used, suggesting resources needed in the future, and having congregations, synods and other organizations commit to three things they can do in the coming year.

One proposed amendment failed because voting members thought it limited the recommendation. However, another amendment passed that called the ELCA to explore a reform of its culture in ways that “open it to a new level of valuing and being shaped by the power of the word.”

At a news conference following the vote, Stanley Olson, executive director of Vocation and Education, said the initiative isn’t a rerun of predecessor church programs. “This initiative affirms [what was done before], but we’re backing up this time to look at what happened in the Reformation.”

“We want this to help people understand and experience the power of Scripture,” Jacobson said. “If [this initiative] shuts people down rather than opens people up, we have done a disservice.”

“The gift Diane brings to this is her desire to not just talk about Scripture,” Olson said. “We’re going to do the Lutheran thing and let Scripture speak to us.”

The project originated from a memorial of the North Carolina Synod, which brought a proposal to the 2005 assembly. It resulted in two years of work by an ad hoc committee coordinated by Vocation and Education staff.

Visit the ELCA Web site for more information.


Pastor Duncan Hunter

Pastor Duncan Hunter

Posted at 2:04 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/28/2007

68 delegates voted agianst this initiative!  Wonder where they are coming from??

John Main

John Main

Posted at 5:23 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/28/2007

My guess is they came right from the Higgins Road building. I hope we listen more to the Word Alone movement as it relates to the Bible.  John



Posted at 3:53 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/29/2007

John, I think you should re-read Luther's explanation to the 8th Commandment. Then, when you read the ELCA constitution, you'll know that -- except for 3 officers -- people who work for the churchwide organization (a.k.a. Higgins Road) cannot vote at churchwide assemblies. You'll have to look elsewhere for those 68.

Kevin Osmond

Kevin Osmond

Posted at 8:04 am (U.S. Eastern) 8/30/2007

I belong to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Nevada, Missouri and agree that it is our duty to encourage more studying of God's Word. It has been something that has excited me for years. That is why I have many ongoing Bible study lessons that I put on my website each week. I have a large number of people around the USA taking and enjoying these lessons from many different denominations.

Most of my studies are from the Master Builders Bible. Everyone taking these lessons all have such exciting comments and feel so much closer to God after studying.

I started a men's mionistry in the church but the reception was so small, thats when I decided the web was the way to get God's Word out to more people.

I have found that, yes, people really want to know God's Word with better understanding...but do not know where to go.

I thank you for your encouraging work on this matter.

God Bless




Posted at 8:13 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/1/2007

Responding to "Stuart 8-29-2007".  I actually did re read Luther's explanation of the 8th Commandment at your sugestion.  I hope YOU were not suggesting that we should never disagree with the ELCA regarding how we understand the Bible.  If so than you should be very angry with Luther when he called the Pope the Antichrist Etc. The reformation was full of barbs and hard words back and forth.  And just so you don't misunderstand, when I mentioned "Higgins Road" I was refering to the shift of the ELCA towards political correctness at the expense of the Bible. It is in this sense that I support the Word Alone movement as it relates to the Bible.  Some things are just NOT up for a "vote" by the church or anyone else.  We don't stand in judgement of God's word.  Let us all pray for the ELCA.

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