Sola Scriptura our Foundation
What is Sola Scriptura and why is it important to our faith in this often confusing world where so many things vie for our attention? In short, Sola Scriptura is the teaching that Scripture is the final authority for the Church in regards to faith and practice. While the Bible does not contain all knowledge, such as mathematical equations or cooking recipes, it does contain all that we need to know in relation to the existence of God, that there is a plan of salvation, and how we should conduct ourselves both in the Church and in our everyday lives. This Sola, along with the other Solas, are foundational to our understanding of the Protestant Reformation.
Sola Scriptura is not to be confused with Solo Scriptura, often known as ” just me and my Bible “. The Reformers believed in tradition as they did not neglect the wisdom and sacrifice made by those who had come before, but they insisted that all tradition
should must be viewed and weighed against what was found in the Scriptures themselves. As they did not consider themselves inspired, they neither considered past generations as inspired or infallible in their interpretation of Holy Writ. Neither does this teaching deny the necessity of the Holy Spirit in enlightening our minds and leading us into truth nor does it deny that the Church has been given teachers to help bring us into the unity of the faith.
Testimony from the Past
The sufficiency of Scripture has been held by faithful Christians for millenia, as can be seen below, including those carried along by the Holy Spirit in the writing of those sacred pages.
- “the sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth” (Athanasius, Against the Heathen, part 1, 1, 3
- “You have Scripture for a master instead of me; from there you can learn whatever you would know.” -John Chrysostom
- “Let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.” – Basil of Caesarea (c. 330 – 379 A.D.)
- Psalms 19:7
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.-Westminster Confession
Why Sola Scriptura
We believe that the Bible as inspired by God is inerrant, that is, that in the original autographs it is without error and in its transmission to us it is perfect in all it affirms and teaches:
“Inerrancy is the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrines or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.” The conservative evangelical stance on inerrancy was most recently and thoroughly articulated in 1978 in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
In article XI, the Chicago Statement says, “We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.
As can be seen from the above quotes, infallibility and inerrancy are and should be tied together. The Bible is true because it is the Word of God and has been faithfully transmitted to us. The Bible does not distinguish between spiritual and non-spiritual matters. The Scriptures speak truly in every area that it touches upon whether it be faith, geography, history, or any topic found within its pages. This belief does not deny different modes of communication such as poetry, allegory, linguistic idioms, or apocryphal language.
B.B. Warfield said,
” the Bible could share the ordinary opinions of his day in certain matters lying outside the scope of his teachings, as, for example, with reference to the form of the earth, or its relation to the sun; and, it is not inconceivable that the form of his language when incidentally adverting to such matters, might occasionally play into the hands of such a presumption.”
Further Reading on Sola Scriptura