Part 2 of 3
Tuesday, Oct. 31, is Reformation Day, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest, wanted a public debate on the Church's practice of selling indulgences. As was customary, he nailed a document to his church's door in Wittenberg, Germany, to create interest. His Ninety-five Theses — numbered statements that built his argument — changed the world of his day and ours.
Luther's quest to reform the Church, however, was rooted in his belief that the written Scriptures were the foundation of Christian faith and practice. This truth hit home when, after many struggles and much study, he understood " the righteous man shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17b NASB, quoted from Habakkuk 2:4) This acceptance of the supremacy of the Bible is the basis of the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura — Scripture Alone, the first and foremost of the Five Solas formulated during the Reformation:
-Sola Scriptura — Scripture Alone is the Standard for Salvation and Practice
-Solus Christus — By Christ Alone We Are Saved
-Sola Gratia — Salvation Is by Grace Alone
-Sola Fide — Justification is by Faith Alone
-Soli Deo Gloria — All of Life Is for the Glory of God Alone
The statement of definition below is from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc. (ACE):
"Sola Scriptura: We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation."
To further our understanding of the Doctrine of Sola Scripture — defended by Martin Luther — the following excerpts are from the Preface of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, 1978, also from ACE.
"The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority." The Preface goes on to state: "We offer this Statement in a spirit, not of contention, but of humility and love "
(Five introductory statements and Nineteen Articles of Affirmation & Denial follow the Preface.)
The Reformation Doctrine of Sola Scriptura still stands as foundational in Protestant Christian faith and practice. Adherence to Sola Scriptura underscores relevant biblical teaching, helps one avoid error in living a godly life and amplifies our understanding of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther 500 years ago.
Gordon Hall is a retired religious broadcaster, communications instructor and fundraiser. He is a consultant for a human-services consulting firm.