Sola Scriptura

October 5, 2010

Our culture has a bias for the recent. “New & Improved” “Cutting edge” “Updated” “Version 2.0”. This even affects Christians. There was a time when I thought Christianity started in the 20th century. Being a direct descendant of the fundamentalist movement of early 1900s, I felt any predating theology belonged in the dustbin of history. Only in the last half of my life I have come to realize that church history and dead theologians have a lot to offer the contemporary church.

Although rooted in the past, this is more than a history lesson. These doctrines define what it means to be a Christian. We ignore these teachings at our peril. Properly understood, they change our lives. They impact our relationships, jobs, families, church and society. Just as they did almost 500 years ago.

Introduction to the Reformation
In the early 1500s, although the Dark Ages were ended and the Renaissance was in full swing, most of the population of Europe still lived in bondage to superstition and under the thumb of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the most powerful entity in Western Europe. It controlled government, the court system, banking, education and most importantly the key to heaven (or so it claimed). And it had become corrupt.

All that was about to change. On October 31, 1517 a 33-year-old monk stood up against the Catholic machine. The Protestant Reformation was born. The world would never be the same. Martin Luther was not trying to destroy the Catholic Church, he was trying to “reform” it. He was “protesting” the Catholic selling of indulgences.

He wrote 95 theses and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany. A relatively new invention called the printing press helped to quickly spread this protest throughout Germany, then the rest of Europe.

The reformation in Switzerland started over a Sausage Supper. Ulrich Zwingli had been reading the recently published Greek New Testament. He could not find any mention of the Catholic tradition of lent. So one Friday during lent, instead of eating Fish, they ate Sausage. The next Sunday, he preached that lent was not found in scripture and the reformation came to Zurich. Besides Germany and Switzerland, it came to England, Scotland and France.

Luther was the original man against machine, but there were others. However it was his willingness to die for the sake of his conscious that infected society. Other reformers built upon his original protests. Eventually these reforms brought public education, the dignity of vocation, the freedom to marry or not, free enterprise, the puritans and the pilgrims.

What are the Five Solas?
• Sola is the Latin word for alone (solo)
• You could also call them the five slogans of the reformation
• They developed over time, they came to express specifically what Protestants believed as opposed to what the Catholic Church believes
• They were the five great rallying cries of those who were reforming Christianity to reflect Biblical truth
• Against specific perversions of the truth that were taught by the corrupt Catholic Church

Scripture alone (sola Scriputra)
Christ alone (solus Christus)
Grace alone (sola gratia)
Faith alone (sola fide)
Glory to God alone (soli Deo gloria)

Our source of authority is Scripture Alone
Sola Scriptura was probably the main battle cry of the reformation. One of the big questions Christians must ask is “What is the final, infallible authority to determine what I believe?” The Catholic church teaches it is a combination of the scriptures, sacred tradition and the teachings of the church and the pope. The Reformers said, “No our source of authority is scripture alone” Not denying there are other authorities, just that they must be tested by scripture. The Bible is the infallible authority. Nothing else is infallible (incapable of being wrong).
• Man’s reason, our experience, new revelations, popes and church councils can all be wrong
• Therefore we must know the word and preach the word
• The Bible is infallible

Lastly, Scripture alone is sufficient
The Catholic Church taught the Scripture was infallible, just not sufficient. The Catholic church forbade private individuals from reading the Bible (Latin), they taught you could not understand the Bible apart from the pope or the church tradition and teaching. Now we’ve put science, psychology, scholarship above the scriptures. Do you want God to speak to you? Read the scriptures! God has give us what we need in the Bible. While other books may inform us, only one book can transform us. It transforms us by conforming us to the image of Christ. It is sufficient for evangelism, for sanctification and for guidance. Is your conscience captive to the Word of God?

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