Review of the ELCA study bible

Lutheran Study Bible Lutheran Study Bible by Augsburg Fortress

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I bought this book because it has the potential to be used by my parishioners (I am an LCMS pastor). There are some physical elements to it that I like. It is easy to read, quality paper. I like the outside margin comments and notes. I like the use of graphics as well.

However, the problem is that the negatives far outweigh the positives. First of all, it uses the NRSV translation. This translation is gender inclusive, and really works hard to avoid anything that might be deemed as a traditional view of God. It is teetering on the edge of being a paraphrase.

The second problem is that the premise of the editors comes from a historical-critical method of interpretation. In other words, the editors of the study bible do not believe that the bible is God’s Word. It records and announces God’s revelation about Jesus (p. 19), God speaks through the Bible, but they will shy away from using language like inerrant or authoritative. The editors like to talk about how the bible “is a product of communities of faith who gathering the writings of authors inspired by God and regarded them as having authority as sacred Scriptures” (p. 20). While at one level that sounds nice and good and pious, underneath it is the reality that the source of the bible is not God Himself, but the “communities of faith”, and that it is the experience of the bible that creates faith. So for example, many of the books of Paul are designated as being written by associates of Paul, not Paul himself (p. 1850).

What you find in the comments and notes are a pretty standard theologically liberal agenda. Passages on homosexuality are interpreted away, the authority of the Gospel is undermined, and even the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven is denied (p. 1658). While there may be a nice veneer of Lutheranism on it, unfortunately it doesn’t go much beyond the name of the book.

I can’t in good conscience recommend this study bible. There are many study bibles out there that are better, and the false teaching that peppers this may do much damage to the faithful.

Pastor Todd Peperkorn
Messiah Lutheran Church
Kenosha, Wisconsin

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5 thoughts on “Review of the ELCA study bible

  1. … The editors like to talk about how the bible “is a product of communities of faith"…

    Ugh! Stop there – 'tis the product of men? Hmm… how come heresies always seem to try to find a way to diminish God and glorify man? 🙁

  2. Did they include all of the books that Luther translated for his "study bible"?? I'll be willing to bet (w/o seeing it) that it's an "american bible" w/ only 66 books.

  3. "I bought this book because it has the potential to be used by my parishioners (I am an LCMS pastor)."

    Hence my repeated warnings to my folks here to watch out for the all important "THE" when buying "The Lutheran Study Bible." No "The", then don't buy it! Besides, no need to go out and buy one…we've got the CPH sign-up sheet in the narthex.

  4. Thanks for the review. I’ve bandied about putting this study bible up on my site and now I can in good conscious, steer clear of it. I can also talk to a few friends about some of the dangers. Great article.

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