The 5 Solas

The 5 Solas

The 5 pillars of reformed theology

The Reformation took place over a period of 130 years. It began in 1517 with the publication of Martin Luther’s ‘Ninety-five Theses’ and continued until around 1638.

It represented a complete sea-change in Christianity giving, as it did, access to scripture and theology to the common man – the likes of you and me!

The reformers believed that the established church had drifted away from the essential, original scriptural teachings of Christianity, especially with respect to salvation. They sought to re-orientate Christianity back to Christ’s message, scripture, and the practices and teaching of the early church.

The seeds of the Reformation were sown when attempts were made to translate the Bible into other languages (from Latin). One of the principal characters in this work was John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian, who produced English hand-written scripts in the 1380s. The work was progressed in the 1500s by William Tyndale working directly from Hebrew and Greek texts.

The development of the printing press in the 1500s, (Johannes Gutenberg) enabled mass production of books – including the Bible – and the Reformation really took off. Tyndale’s work was the first English biblical translation to be mass-produced as a result of these new advances in printing technology.

Scripture in our own language is such an extraordinary resource for us. May we never take it for granted. This week’s mini-study of the 5 Solæ doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface and I whole-heartedly encourage you all to keep reading and keep studying. So much to learn – so little time!

I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at the five solæ, Latin phrases that collectively identified the foundational theological principles of the Reformation and, indeed, which continue to serve as the bedrock for reformed theology today. The 5 Solæ as we know them today weren’t fully articulated all at once but gradually, throughout the Reformation, they became known as the 5 Pillars of Reformed Theology.

• Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
The only foundation: Scripture is the only infallible and sufficient rule for governing issues of life and doctrine.

• Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
The only method: Our salvation is solely by the sovereign grace of God and not dependent on any action or condition man provides.

• Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
The only means: Our justification before God is by faith in Christ alone and not by works.

• Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
The only mediator: Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man; salvation is possible only by His death and resurrection.

• Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)
The only ambition: All glory and honour are due to God alone.