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Sola Scriptura

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Martin Luther in his speech at the Diet of Worms.

Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that fundamentally separates Protestant Christians from Orthodox and Catholics, from which they split. It was famously expounded by Martin Luther in his speech at the Diet of Worms.

Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help me. Amen."[1]

Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that Scripture alone is our highest authority for divine truth and instruction regarding salvation. It is viewed as sufficient. To Martin Luther, the final authority rest in the gospel, Jesus Christ, that made both the Bible and the church. Since Scripture provides more reliable witness to that gospel than the pope's corrupt church, or even the best in Christian tradition, the Bible has autority over the church, the tradition and the pope.[2] It is obviously not a complete compendium of knowledge, as it does not contain blueprints for solar panels or space shuttles or many other things. The point is that Scripture alone is our highest authority, and as such there is no need for any additional information beyond what has been given in Scripture, in order to convict men of sin, point them to Christ, and bring them to salvation via God's grace.

References

  1. Luther, Martin. Before the Diet of Worms, (1521), paragraph 11. http://www.bartleby.com/268/7/8.html
  2. González, Justo L (2010). The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day. II. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-06-185589-4.