What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura?
by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
There are two main issues that divide Protestant Catholics from Roman Catholics. Both groups claim to be catholic, that is, part of the apostolic, universal church of Jesus Christ. Roman Catholics believe we Protestants departed from that church in the sixteenth century. Protestant Catholics believe they departed earlier.
The theme of this opening chapter is one of the issues that still divides us: the source of religious truth for the people of God. (The other main issue, that of how a man is made right with God, has been dealt with in the book Justification by Faith ALONE!, published by Soli Deo Gloria in 1995.) As Protestants we maintain that the Scripture alone is our authority. Our Roman opponents maintain that the Scripture by itself is insufficient as the authority of the people of God, and that tradition and the teaching authority of the church must be added to the Scripture.
This is a solemn topic. This is no time for games. We must be searching for the truth. God has declared that whoever adds to or takes away from His Word is subject to His curse. The Roman church has declared that we Protestants are accursed (“anathematized”) for taking away the Word of God as found in tradition. We Protestants have declared that the Roman church is a false church for adding human traditions to the Word of God. Despite sincere debates by fine apologists over the course of nearly 500 years, the differences remain basically as they were in the sixteenth century. I will not say much new here, but we must continue to pursue the truth.
In spite of the difficulty of this undertaking, I am eager to join that historic train of Protestant apologists to defend the doctrine that the Scripture alone is our ultimate religious authority. I believe that it can be shown that this position is the clear position of Scripture itself. And I hope that, by the grace of God, those committed to the Roman doctrine of tradition will come to see the tragic error of denigrating the sufficiency and perspicuity of God’s own inspired Word.
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