Sola Scriptura. ‘Scripture alone’. This doctrine is often misused today because many Protestants do not use Sola Scriptura as Martin Luther first used. When asked to recant his previous writings, Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521 said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason’ I cannot do so. What at that time was a combination of scripture or evident reason has turned into what we now know as Scripture Alone (with or without reason).
More to the point, however, when he made his statement, Luther was arguing against officials from the Church who said he needed to agree with Catholic doctrines because the Church possessed the authority to determine those doctrines. Luther held he would not accept these doctrines unless he also found them in scripture (or through evident reason).
What Luther did not do at that time was open the Bible and develop a brand new form of Christianity and a brand new church from what he read. He seems to have understood, among other things, the Bible had not been written as an instruction booklet for developing churches, but was instead written to explain who Jesus was and what he meant to us, and to address specific issues already challenging the existing Christian church as then found in Galatia, Corinth and the rest.
Today, Sola Scriptura has been perverted into a form of Sola Ego, or ‘Me Alone’. Many Christians today do not allow for any Traditional or consensus definition of doctrine or morality or religious practice. They do not accept that heresies addressed by Christian believers a thousand years ago or more might have been clarified at that time by the same Holy Spirit each individual calls upon today to revisit the same doctrinal questions.
'Bible-only' pastors tell each Christian they can pick up the Bible on their own and determine what is right and wrong. Not only right and wrong as it might apply to their personal lives, but the universal rights and wrongs that affect us all. Armed now with the only valid universal interpretation of the Bible, each Christian is told they not only can, but are obligated to, find a church that agrees with them – or, create a new one. Thus, the tens of thousands of denominations spreading across the landscape. Each Church all too easily turned into the 'Church of Me', for if I later find the congregation I sit among differs from me on some future issue I interpret from my reading of the Bible, I follow Sola Ego, I along am once again correct and off I go in search of another Church of Me.
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