As a church we are studying the five solas of the protestation reformation and the first of the five is called Sola Scriptura, literally: “only Scripture”. I can’t think of a doctrine that has caused so much scandal and argument as this doctrine has. Here’s why:
The Protestant Reformers believed that Scripture alone was the only infallible source of revelation. In short what that means is that the only way God reveals who He is and what He is doing is in the Bible, which itself completely trustworthy. additionally, Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant, meaning that it is without error. Wow. What a statement! The result of this, according to the to Reformers, is that Scripture alone is then the primary source available for instruction on all matters regarding faith and practice.
Now, if we really understand what the Reformers are teaching we will agree that this is an extremely dangerous doctrine. Why? Read on …
The Reformers rejected the idea that tradition was a source of revelation on par with the Bible. While valuable, they argued that tradition, since it was largely subjective, could be misleading and fallible. They argued that The Bible needed to be in the hands of all people and not just a selected few who could use it as a powertool to control the masses. If the Bible was let loose, and every person wrestled with the truth of it, then every person could have a theology of their own. This actually happened! By 1436 Gutenberg had invented the printing press and just 16 years later, the first book to be published was the Bible. The Reformers understood the risk of putting a Bible in every man’s hands – crazy ideas, fanciful theology and even heresies could emerge – but they were certain that the commoner of his day could interpret the Bible better than many of the so-called scholars of the Church in Rome. And so began the Protestant Reformation.
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura not only means that there is a Bible in every person’s hands, but also a burden – a weighty responsibility – to find the truth for themselves. Whilst we love our teachers and preachers, and respect them according to the what the Bible says, and thank God that we have them .. the responsibility for ownership of what we believe – and why – rests with us individually. God has spoken and He has spoken to us in the Bible. It’s a very dangerous thing to open the Bible and hear what He has to say … and a much bigger danger if you don’t.