Sola Scriptura in Tabletalk

Michael J. Kruger

Posted on

November 5, 2012

For the last week or so I have been helping my 9-year old son memorize Luther’s famous declaration at the Diet of Worms (1521) for a school project.  As I helped him, I was struck again by Luther’s unwavering commitment to the scriptures as the ultimate guide for the Christian life:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience… May God help me. Amen.[1]

With this in mind, I note that the latest issue of Tabletalk has just come out and is committed to discussing the five solas of the Reformation.   There are some very good articles in this issue and is timed well to come out around Reformation day (Oct 31st). My own article in this issue is on the topic of sola Scriptura. I cover a number of dangers and misconceptions and then offer my conclusion:

But the biggest danger we face when it comes to sola Scriptura is not just misunderstanding it.  The biggest danger is forgetting it.  We are prone to think of this doctrine purely in terms of 16th century debates— just a vestige of the age-old Catholic-Protestant battles and not relevant for the modern day.  But the Protestant church in the modern day needs this doctrine now more than ever.  The lessons of the Reformation have been largely forgotten (at least in some quarters) and the church, once again, has begun to rely on ultimate authorities outside of Scripture.  Although it is no longer Rome to which the church turns, the alternatives are no better: pragmatism, existentialism, materialism, and more. Thankfully, the remedy is the same as it was 500 years ago.  The church needs to return to sola Scriptura.

In order to lead the church back to sola Scriptura we must realize that this cannot be done only by teaching about the doctrine itself (although we should do this).  Instead, the primary way we lead the church back is by actually preaching the Scriptures. Only the Word of God has the power to transform and reform our churches.  So, we should not only talk about sola Scriptura, but we should demonstrate it. And when we do, we must preach all of God’s word—not picking and choosing the parts we prefer or think our congregations want to hear.  We must preach only the Word (sola Scriptura) and we must preach all the Word (tota Scriptura).  The two go hand in hand.  It is when they are joined together in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have hope for a new Reformation.


[1] As cited in John Dillenberger, Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings (New York: Anchor Books, 1962), xxiii.

 

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