The Tie that Binds the ‘Solas’ Together

David VanDrunen | October 27, 2017


Also in TGC’s series on the Reformation’s five solas:


Is there something about soli Deo gloria that works less well than the other four as a motto summarizing Reformation theology? Teachers of Reformation theology, after all, often remind their students that medieval Christianity and 16th-century Roman Catholicism did not deny the importance of Scripture, faith, grace, and Christ. Many Catholics spoke of them often and would have eagerly affirmed there is no salvation without them.

But if we could press the matter further and ask these theologians about the little word soli (“alone”), we would soon find genuine disagreement.

While the reformers claimed Scripture alone as the authority for faith and life, Rome professed reverence for Scripture while insisting that church tradition and the pope stood alongside Scripture to interpret it infallibly and augment its teaching.

When the reformers asserted that justification comes by faith alone (sola fide), Roman Catholics responded that justification does indeed come by faith—but also by works alongside faith. They had similar exchanges about grace (hence sola gratia


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