Monthly Archives: October 2017

  • Reformation 500 – Sola Fide

    As noted when thinking about sola scriptura, most religions and religious movements have formal and material principles from which authority is derived and by which doctrines are summarized, respectively. Usually the formal principle is a text(s)—hence sola scriptura is the formal principle of the Reformation—while material principles tend to be the summary or central teaching(s) of the religion or the movement. The material principle of the Reformation is the next sola under consideration: sola fide. This no doubt was what Luther was getting at when he called justification by faith articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae-the point of belief which determines whether the Church stands or falls. Likewise, G.C. Berkhouwer:

    The confession of divine justification touches man’s life at its heart, at the point of its relationship to God. It defines the preaching of the Church, the existence and progress of the life of faith, the root of human … Read More »

  • Reformation 500 – Sola Gratia

    More than anything, the Reformation began as a soteriological struggle. Medieval Christianity had degenerated so much that the gospel had become a demand to make oneself acceptable to God by improving on the infused grace received in baptism and the Lord’s supper (see Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity) rather than a donation, that is, a gift from God. This soteriological struggle was envisaged in Luther’s life personally as he wrestled with this theme. We are not talking about an esoteric or abstract theological idea. The Reformation was about the gospel and the Christian life. In some ways, the Reformation was the result of Luther’s personal struggles and the resultant outcomes. He wrestled with the things he saw when he journeyed to Rome. He struggled with his understanding of grace as he read and taught … Read More »

    Posted in: Pastor Brian's Blog
  • Reformation 500 – Sola Scriptura

    All religions have authoritative texts and persons to whom they look for direction and guidance. This is sometimes called the formal principle of religion. As we have noted recently in our Sunday school class, the formal principle of Orthodoxy is the Bible and sacred tradition. In Catholicism it’s the Bible and tradition and the pope and the magisterium. After the reformation, two traditions—Anglicans and Methodists—would come to emphasize a slightly nuanced position which became known as prima scriptura; the teaching that holy Scripture is first among other places of God’s revelation.

    In contrast to all of these, the formal principle of the Protestant reformation was Sola Scriptura: by scripture alone. Alone set this off from Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and later Anglicans and Methodists, and their competing and complementing sources of authority.

    Scripture alone is the sole repository of God’s authoritative revelation, the … Read More »

  • Reformation 500

    October is the month that Protestants usually celebrate and remember the Protestant Reformation. Although political, economic, and theological controversies were already churning beneath the surface, the date of the Reformation is usually linked with Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses on the churches in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. These 95 Theses come in the form of pithy and succinct sentences, something more akin to Donald Trump’s twitter feed than a theological tome. And that is not an insult. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t fully understand the attraction to social media. But there are some really talented and gifted people out there who know how to wield it like a surgeon uses a scalpel. And this is how Luther used the theses when he posted them on the door of the church. For example,

    Read More »