The Doctrine of Conscience -- By: Roger Douglass Congdon

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:409 (Jan 1946)
Article: The Doctrine of Conscience
Author: Roger Douglass Congdon

The Doctrine of Conscience

Roger Douglass Congdon

(Concluded from the October-December Number, 1945)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered from 50–63 but are numbered from 1–14 respectively in this electronic edition.}

Doctrinal Study

We have already looked in general at the whole gamut of opinion and definition of conscience from most ancient to modern times. The best word to describe the whole would be confusion. Indeed, apart from the established, inspired Word of God what could there be but confusion? And certainly Satan can be expected to have done his best to create a veritable Babel, for it is the voice of conscience which, when undefiled and heeded, drives a man to God’s grace.

Our study of the doctrine of conscience in the Scripture showed (1) that this may be termed one of the “hidden doctrines” of the Bible. There is no array of clear, enlightening passages which reveal to the casual reader the intricacies of the subject. (2) Even though the idea of conscience is not clear, yet the Bible does not present a picture of confusion on the subject. On the contrary, the various passages involved serve to shed light one upon the other, revealing an orderly system of truth. Wherever Bible students, language scholars or archaeologists have given some help in our search for the true, original meaning of the Bible, their contribution is very valuable. Apart from this, the wisdom of man may either agree or disagree with the Scripture but it never adds any contributions to that which is revealed there. In fact, to introduce such material into Biblical exegesis would be extremely dangerous, simply because man’s thoughts are fallible.

1. Definition.

How do some of the common modern definitions of conscience stand up in the light of the Scriptures? We will examine some of those given in an earlier section. “Conscience is the sense or consciousness of right and wrong.” This is a popular definition with the unbeliever because it omits the standard of right and wrong. It leaves the individual to justify himself by his own standards. It makes conscience a “knowing with” nothing definite, so that this is the “defiled conscience” of the world. Satan has championed the gospel of subjective faith throughout the world—a close counterfeit of the true gospel of faith, blinding minds to the Lord Jesus Christ, our object of faith. The result is a nebulous faith without foundation, comfort, and value. And conscience without the true criterion becomes nothing but a vehicle in the hands of men to use or abuse at will.

“Conscience is regard for ordinary fairness or justice....

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