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Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura
Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura was one of the main theological beliefs that Martin Luther Proclaimed against the catholic church during the protestant reform.

Sola Scriptura is one of the five Solae, considered by some protestant groups to be the theological pillars of the reformation. The key implication of the principle is that interpretations and applications of the scriptures do not have the same authority as the scriptures themselves; hence, The Ecclesiastical authority is viewed as subject to correction by the scriptures, even by an individual member of the church. Martin Luther, 16th Century Monk, and figurehead of the protestant Reformation Stated that “a Simple Layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.

 

The intention of the Reformation was thus to correct what he asserted to be the errors of the catholic church, by appealing to the uniqueness of the Bible’s textual authority. Catholic doctrine is based on sacred tradition, as well as scripture. Sola Scriptura rejected the assertion that infallible authority was given to the magisterium to interpret both Scripture and tradition. Sola Scriptura, however, does not ignore Christian history, tradition, and the church when seeking to understand the Bible. Rather, it sees the church as the Bible’s interpreter, the regular Fidel (embodied in the ecumenical creeds) as the interpretive context, and scripture as the only final authority. In matters of faith and practice. As Luther said, “The true rule is this: God’s word shall establish articles of faith and no one else, not even an angel can do so.

WHAT IS SOLA SCRIPTURA?

Sola Scriptural (by scripture alone” in English) is a theological doctrine held by some protestant Christian denominations that posit the Christian scriptures as the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice. While the meaning of the scriptures is mediated through many kinds of subordinate authority such as the ordinary teaching offices of a denominated church, the ecumenical creeds, and the councils of the catholic church, amongst others – Sola Scriptura in contrast rejects any original infallible authority other than the Bible. In this view, all subordinate authority is derived from the authority of the scriptures and is therefore subject to reform when compared to the teaching of the bible. Church councils, preachers, bible commentators, private revelations, or even a message allegedly from an angel or an apostle are not considered an original authority alongside the Bible in the Sola Scriptura approach.

 

Sola Scriptura is a formal principle of many protestant Christian denominations, and one of the five solae. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the protestant reformation held by many of the reformers who taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text, as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Some evangelical and Baptist denominations state the doctrine of Sola Scriptura more strongly: Scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader; its interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine. By contrast, Anglicanism and Methodism, also considered forms of Protestantism, uphold the doctrine of prima Scriptura, with scripture being illuminated by tradition, reason, and experience, thus completing the four sides of Methodism, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The Eastern Orthodox Church holds that to “accept the ongoing spirit-led authority of the church’s tradition, which recognizes, interprets, worships, and corrects itself by the witness of Holy Scripture”.The catholic church officially regards tradition and scripture as equal, also interpreted by the Roman Magisterium, and describes this as “one common source…… with two distinct modes of transmission”, while some protestant authors call it “a dual source of revelation.

PRIMA SCRIPTURA

Sola Scriptura may be contrasted with Prima Scriptura, which holds that, besides canonical scriptures, there are other guides for what a believer should believe, and how he or she should live. Examples of this include the general revelation in creation, traditions, charismatic gifts, conscience, common source, the views of experts, the spirit of the times, or something else. Prima Scriptura suggests that ways of knowing or understanding God and his will, that do not originate from canonized scriptures are in a second-place, perhaps helpful in interpreting that scripture, but testable by the canon and correctable by it, if they seem to contradict the scriptures. Two Christian denominations that uphold the position of Prima Scriptura are Anglicanism and Methodism. In Anglican, tradition scripture, tradition, and reason from the “Anglican triad” or “three-legged stool”, formulated by the Anglican theologian Richard Hooker. Concerning the Methodist tradition, a Dictionary for united Methodists states: Building on the Anglican Theological Tradition, Wesley added a fourth emphasis, experience. The resulting four components or “sides” of the (Wesleyan) quadrilateral are: Scripture Tradition Reason and Experience For United Methodists, Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine. Tradition is experience and the witness of development and growth of the faith through the past centuries and in many nations and cultures.

 

Experience is the individual’s understanding and appropriating of the faith in the light of his or her Christian faith discerning and cogent thought. These four elements taken together bring the individual Christian to a mature and fulfilling understanding of the Christian faith and the required response of worship and service. Sola Scriptura rejects any original infallible authority, other than the Bible. In this view, all secondary authority is derived from the authority of the scripture and is therefore subject to reform when compared to the teaching of the Bible. Church Councils, Preachers, Biblical Commentators, Private Revelation, or even a message allegedly from an angel or an apostle are not an original authority alongside the Bible in the Sola Scriptura approach.

SINGULAR AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

The idea of the singular authority of scripture is the motivation behind much of the protestant effort to translate the Bible into vernacular languages and distribute it widely. Protestants generally believe each Christian should read the Bible for themselves and evaluate what they have been taught based on it. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church, both of which teach that authoritative doctrine can also come from tradition, have been more active in translating them as well as the Bible into the vernacular languages. Contrary to a common polemic of the Reformation, many German translators of the Bible existed before Martin Luther. Traditions of these non-protestant churches include the Bible, Patristic, conciliar, and liturgical texts. Before the protestant movement, hundreds of vernacular translations of the Bible and liturgical materials were translated throughout the proceeding, sixteen centuries. Some Bible translations such as the Geneva Bible included annotations and commentary that were anti-Roman Catholic. Before the protestant Reformation, Latin was almost exclusively utilized in Latin Rite Catholic Churches but was understood by only the most literate. According to Sola Scriptura, the church does not speak infallibly in its traditions, but only in scripture. John Wesley stated in the 18th century, “in all cases, the church is to be judged by the church”. For this reason, Sola Scriptura is called the formal cause or principle of the Reformation. Protestants argue that the scriptures are guaranteed to remain true to their divine source and thus, only insofar as the church retains scriptural faith is it assured of God’s favour. They further assert that, if the church were to fall away from faith through scripture (a possibility Roman Catholics deny but protestants affirm), its authority would be negated. Therefore, early protestants argued for eliminating traditions and doctrines they believed were based on distortions of scripture, or were contrary to the Bible but that the Roman Catholic Church considered scripturally-based aspects of Christian faith, such as transubstantiation John 6:51, the doctrine of purgatory 1 Cor 3:15, Luke 12:59, Matthew 12:32 the veneration of images or Icon Num 21:8, and especially the doctrine that the pope in Rome is the head of the church on earth (Papal Supremacy) John 21:17. Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that is not in the words of the Westminster confession of faith 1:6 “expressly set down in scripture”. However, the confession claims that it passes the second test of being part of “the whole counsel of God” because it is “deduced from scripture” by good and necessary consequence”, citing passages such as Isaiah 8:20 “To the Law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no right in them. Jesus is also typically understood by protestants as expressly nullifying unscriptural traditions in the (Jewish) church, when he says, for example in Mark 7:13, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down, and many such things you do.

SCRIPTURE AND SACRED TRADITION

The catholic church, from which protestants broke away, and against which they directed these arguments, did not see scripture and the sacred tradition of the faith as different sources of authority, but that scripture was handed down as part of sacred tradition (see 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy, 2:2). The catholic church holds that the gospel was transmitted by the apostles by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as well as by those apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing. This living transmission accomplished in the Holy Spirit is called traditions, since it is distinct from sacred scripture, though closely connected to it. Scared tradition and sacred scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God. The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands-on they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The catholic church distinguishes sacred traditions from local customs that may be retained, modified, or even abandoned). As explained by Athanasius of Alexandria, let us look at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the catholic church from the very beginning, which the Logos gave (token), the Apostles preached (ekereyzan), and the fathers preserved (ephylazan). Upon this, the church is founded (tethemali otai) “St. Athanasius, First Letter to Serapion.

ACCEPTED TRADITIONS

Accepted traditions were also perceived by the church as cohesive. The proper interpretation of the scriptures was seen as part of the faith of the church and seen indeed as to how biblical authority was upheld – Acts 15:28-29. The meaning of Scripture was seen as proven from the faith universally held in the churches (Phil 2:1, Acts 4:32), and the correctness of that universal faith was seen as proven from the scriptures and apostolic sacred tradition – 2 Thee 2:15 2 Thes 3:6, 1 Cor 11:2. The Biblical Canon itself was thus viewed by the church as part of the churches’ tradition, as defined by its Leadership and acknowledged by its laity. The first generation Christians did not yet have a written New Testament and New Testament itself demonstrates the process of Living Tradition. The catholic church teaches that Christ entrusted the preaching of the Gospel to the apostles, who handed it on orally and in writing, and according to the catechism of the catholic church, the apostolic preaching which is expressed especially in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. “Sacred tradition and sacred scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.

 

The Catholics apply to apostolic tradition many of the qualities that evangelicals and other protestants apply to the scripture alone. For example, the 1978 Evangelical declaration Chicago statement on Biblical Inerrancy, states. We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by the Holy Spirit, through human writers, gave us His word. The origin of scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us. We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight or heightened states of consciousness of any kind. Since the catholic church professes that apostolic tradition and scripture are both the word of God, Catholics cab affirm that many of these propositions apply equally well to tradition. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be reduced to human insight or heightened consciousness.This ties in with the question of what constitutes apostolic tradition. The catechism of the catholic church states that this tradition is given “by the Apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they had received, whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. There remains some confusion on the matter among both Catholics and Non-Catholics. This confusion can be seen in those who interpret catholic researcher James Keenan to claim that the doctrines given by apostolic traditions have changed. Keenan reviewed the history of moral theology, and in particular a change in the approach of moral theologians, specifically in the twentieth century. Keenan noted that Mark D. Jodan said that medieval texts he had reviewed appeared to be inconsistent. This refers to medieval traditions and not to apostolic traditions or doctrines. Keenan, however, says that John T. Noonan Jr. demonstrated that, ‘despite claims to the contrary necessary historical development of the oral tradition. According to Noonan, “History cannot leave a principle or teaching untouched; every application to a situation affects our understanding of the principle itself. critiques the 2008 book Catholicism and science, the author’s Peter M.J. Hess and Paul Allen wrote that Sola Scriptura is inherently divisive. Citing the Marburg Colleguy where Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli debated the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist on scriptural grounds but were unable to reach an agreement on the sacramental union. Hess and Allen argue that when scripture is seen as the only source of infallible teaching its interpretation is subject to fallible interpretation, and without an infallible interpreter, a certainty of Christian belief is not possible.

 

The American Roman Catholic writer Dave Armstrong wrote that there are several examples of Jesus and his Apostles accepting oral and extrabiblical tradition in the New Testament: The reference to “He shall be called a Nazarene” cannot be found in the Old Testament, yet it was ‘spoken by the prophets’’ (Matthew 2:123). This prophecy which is considered to be “God’s word”, was passed down orally rather than through scripture. In Matthew 23:2-3, Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a Legitimate, binding authority based “on Moses’ Seat”, but this phrase or idea cannot be found anywhere in the old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishnah, which teaches a sort of “teaching succession” from Moses. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul the Apostle refers to a rock that “followed” the Jews through the Sinai wilderness. The Old Testament says nothing about such miraculous movement. But this critic writes rabbinic tradition does. “As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses” (2 Timothy 3:8) these two men cannot be found in the related Old Testament passages. In the Epistle of Jude 9, a dispute is mentioned between the Archangel Michael and SATA over Moses’ body, which is not mentioned elsewhere in the bible and is drawn from oral Jewish traditions. In the Epistle of James 5:17, when recounting the prayers of Elijah described in 1 Kings 17 a lack of rain for three years is mentioned, which is absent from the passage in 1 King. Armstrong argues that since Jesus and the Apostles acknowledge authoritative Jewish Oral Tradition, Christians can therefore not dispute oral tradition’s Legitimacy and authority. However, according to scripture, Jesus also challenges some Jewish oral traditions. Therefore Christians, on that basis, can dispute some of that tradition’s authority, since they hold that Jesus’ authority is greater.

 

MY VIEW ON SOLA SCRIPTURA

One of the great slogans of the Sixteenth Century Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church was the Latin phrase Sola Scriptura meaning the “Bible alone”. However, like any slogan that summarizes something, it has been misunderstood, for example, Sola Scriptura does not mean that the Bible is the only authority for believers. What then did the phrase Sola Scriptura mean at the time of the Reformation? It was particularly used by Catholics like Albert Pighius (1490-1542) and Johann Aietenberger (1475-1537) to encapsulate three points the reformers affirmed about the Bible. Firstly, Sola Scriptura meant scripture was the supreme authority over the church. It did not mean scripture was the only authority. LUTHER, Calvin, and the other reformers used other authorities like reason and tradition. They developed arguments using logic (reason) and learned from the writings of past Christians (tradition) as they explored the Bible. Yet the Bible was the supreme authority that ruled reason and tradition because scripture alone was infallible precisely because it is God’s word. All other authorities (including church Leadership) were fallible and must submit to scripture. As Heinrich Bullinger said: “As God’s word is confirmed by no human authority, so no human power can weaken its strength”. Note: Sola Scriptura meant scripture was the supreme authority over the church. The Bible ruled reason and tradition because it alone was infallible as God’s word. All other authorities (including church leadership) were fallible and must submit to scripture.

WHY WAS THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE AN ISSUE AT THE REFORMATION?

A variety of medieval theologians believe that the institutional church’s leadership, the Bishops headed by the pope (technically called the “Magisterium”), were the true interpreters of scripture. This effectively placed the teaching authority of the Bishops over scripture itself. The Magisterium then could not be questioned. A turning point was Martin Luther’s famous debate with John Eck (1486-1543) at Leipzig in 1519. There it dawned on Luther that the Magisterium could be in error because the council of Constance (1415) had wrongly put John Hus to death. The supreme authority of scripture served to keep church leadership accountable. The second aspect of Sola Scriptura was the sufficiency of scripture. The catholic church in the sixteenth century affirmed that scripture needed supplementation with various rituals and beliefs not be found in scripture. As John Eck put it: “not everything has been handed down in the sacred scriptures”. In response, the reformers argued that whilst many truths of science and history are not in scripture, the Bible is sufficient for final salvation. Scripture equips beliefs with all that is needed to be saved and persevere to ultimate salvation. They proved this with the words that sum up John’s gospel: Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31 NIV). John’s Gospel (which assumes the authority of the Old Testament) in itself is sufficient for salvation. Hence, any other New Testament book added to it only increases an already sufficient collection of books. The reformers used the sufficiency of scripture against a morss of rituals (e.g not eating meat during lent) and beliefs (e.g the Immaculate Conception of Mary) that had developed over the centuries. The reformers saw the burden this tangle was on believers, for example, many priests found celibacy unnecessarily oppressive. So, reformers like Huldrych Zwingli, (1484-1531) questioned many medieval rites and opinions because they were not in scripture and so they should not be imposed on Christians. The Third element of Sola Scriptura is the clarity of scripture. This did not mean that all of the scripture was crystal clear to every Christian. It also did not signify that pastors and teachers were not needed to help laypeople understand scripture (Eph. 4:11-12). The clarity of scripture denoted that any person could read scripture for themselves and discover the basic way of salvation. The reformers did agree that parts of scripture were difficult to understand. But these passes did not threaten the sufficiency of scripture. Rather, the unclear parts of scripture were to be interpreted in light of its clear parts. Indeed, it was the clarity of scripture that helped drive the reformers to translate the Bible into the common tongue. Because scripture was, in William Tyndale’s words, even for the “ploughboy”. Laypeople needed to be fed with God’s word, and they were required to keep preachers accountable with an open Bible in their hands. Tyndale believed this so firmly that he lost his life for translating scripture into the common tongue. Finally, Sola Scriptura is a simple phrase. But contained in it, are three critical truths: the Bible is the supreme authority, sufficient and clear. All three are essential to the life of God’s people.

THE FIVE SOLAS

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases popularized during the protestant Reformation that emphasized the distinctions between the early Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. The word Sola is a Latin word for “only” and was used about five key teachings that defined the biblical pleas of protestants. They are Sola Scriptura: “Scripture alone” Sola Fide: “faith alone” Sola gratia: “grace alone” Sola Christo: “Christ alone” Soli Deo Gloria: “to the glory of God alone” Each of these Solas can be seen both as a corrective to the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church at the start of the Reformation and as a positive biblical declaration.

SOLA SCRIPTURA; emphasizes the Bible alone as the source of authority. Reformers rejected both the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Pope and confidence in sacred tradition. Only the Bible was “inspired by God” (2 Peter 2:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Anything taught by the pope or in a tradition that contradicted the Bible was to be rejected. Sola scriptura also fueled the translation of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages and prompted Bible teaching in the common languages of the day, rather than in Latin.

SOLA FIDE; This emphasizes salvation as a gift. The Roman Catholic Church of the time emphasized the use of indulgences (donating money) to buy status with God. Good works, including baptism, were seen as required for salvation. Sola fide stated that salvation is a gift to all who accept it by faith (John 3:16). Salvation is not based on human effort or good deeds (Ephesians 2:9).

SOLA GRATIA; This emphasizes grace as the reason for our salvation. In other words, salvation comes from what God has done rather than what we do. (Ephesians 2:8-9) teachers, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.

SOLO CHRISTO (Sometimes listed as Solus Christus, “through Christ alone”). It emphasizes the role of Jesus in salvation. This Roman Catholic Tradition had placed church leaders such as priests in the role of intercessor between the laity and God. Reformers emphasize Jesus’ role as our “high priest’ who intercedes on our behalf before the father. (Hebrews 4:15) teaches, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Jesus is the one who offers access to God, not a human spiritual leader.

SOLI DEO GLORIA; emphasizes the glory of God as the goal of life. Rather than striving to please church leaders, keep a list of rules or guard our interests, our goal is to glorify the Lord. The idea of Soli Deo Gloria is found in (1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Lastly, the five Solas of the protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory.

thanks for joining this intense study. I shall stop here for now till the next update.

From this part of the world, It is all thanks and be rupturable, from pastor Godstrong.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Lily

    This was an interesting read as I basically have not had anything to do with the bible at all in my life. I have always considered it to be an interpretation by men of things they saw and heard a long time ago and that in essence, it is open to much disagreement which has led to wars. But I appreciated your breakdown of the five Solas and how they are used to interpret the reformation declarations. Has the question of whether the actual bible is the ultimate source of wisdom been decided or is it still a bone of contention to this day?

  2. GODSTRONG

    Greate comment LILY. thanks for stopping by. it is no more an argument, the people of this age are highly intelligent and have grown to understand that the bible is the ultimate divine source of wisdom and knowledge. thanks so much for reading.

  3. Eileen Berg

    I invite you to Please read the Bible. Give it a try.

    It starts with the Old Testament which begins by telling about the creation of all things, God’s amazing power, and love.

    If you read the New Testament, you will read about the birth of Jesus, the history of the church, and some of what is to come in the future.

    Back in the Old Testament, you can read the book of Psalms – some are very comforting, and ask God for wisdom or protection, others give praise and glory to our amazing God.

    The entire Bible is actually inspired by God. It is His letter to us. I sincerely hope and pray that you will read some of the Bible. I think God is calling to you. He loves you more than you can imagine.
    (My main website has disappeared for some reason

  4. Dayo

    This article has definitely got my attention. What a dark time it was for the ‘Fathers of the Faith’, during the reformation. The lives of Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale, even C.S Lewis and Charles Spurgeon are so inspirational with the conviction of God Almighty’s word, Jesus and the Holy Spirit!

    I just love the quote about the greatness of the Simple Layman….so true!

    I totally agree that the Bible is the authoratative power of God to transform lives, if people choose to find out what the truth is! 

    I’ve never heard of the ‘Sola Scriptura’ before. Your article really intrigued me! Where can you buy these books or order them? Are they in the British Library or in book stores for instance? I agree that there is a lot of tradition, interpretation, speculation, inspiration, and maybe revelations in the Solas, which is fascinating stuff!

    Respecting all creeds, experiences, preachers, revelations etc etc…..we must all in the sight of God and man, hold onto the word of God. Even Jesus said in John 8:31-32…”If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Yes, by the Bible, the teachings of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, men carried along by the Holy Spirit and by the will of God, there is sufficient and enough for the salvation of the soul of man!

    THE BIBLE….SOLA!

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