Lutherans Put New Focus on Authority, Interpretation of Scripture

Lutherans are putting a new emphasis on scripture this year with the adoption of a proposed report called ''Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible.''

The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted the proposal during its meeting in Chicago on Apr. 1-2, 2006. The Council, which serves as the 5-million-member denomination’s board of directors, is the second highest legislative body in the church.

According to an Apr. 10 news release by the ELCA, the proposal calls for “a multi-year special focus among members, congregations and synods…on the authority and interpretation of Scripture.”

The proposed emphasis on Scripture originated at the ELCA North Carolina Synod last year, following a highly publicized release of a denomination-wide report on homosexuality and its role in the church. While the proposed North Carolina paper makes no mention of homosexuality, it refers to larger themes surrounding the debate, such as the authority of Scripture and the principles of biblical interpretation.

The main product of the project will be a series of resources that will be tested by Lutheran synods, congregations, seminaries, colleges and universities, and ultimately be made available for all Lutherans by 2007. The “Book of Faith” will be meant as a theological introduction to the Bible that would “explain and demonstrate Lutheran principles for reading the Bible.”

"These study guides would encourage all members, congregations and institutions of this church to focus on reading and discussing selected books of the Bible using Lutheran principles for reading and interpretation," the background report said.