A Look at the 5 “Solae”

Sola Scriptura — (Latin) By Scripture Alone

Sola Fide — (Latin) By Faith Alone

Sola Gratia — (Latin) By Grace Alone

Sola Christus — (Latin) By Christ Alone

Sola Deo Gloria — (Latin) Glory to God Alone

Many Protestants today believe that the Five Solae are a great representation of the principles of the Christian Faith. Unlike the supposed “man-made” traditions of papist Rome, these doctrines are said to truly summarize the teachings of the Gospel. They originate from the time of the Protestant Revolt of the 1500s; the warring battle cries of the so-called “Reformers”.

In reality, these Five Solae lure Christians away from the necessary requirements of salvation. The Solae focus only on the subjects that they represent, putting other important doctrines in the dark.

Sola Scriptura is merely the instrument of the “Reformers” to cry out against Roman Catholic authority. This Sola ignores the importance of Apostolic Tradition, and by denying the authority of Rome, it grants anyone the power of private interpretation of the Bible. Sola Scriptura puts a Christian in a position that ignores Tradition, recognizing only the written Word of God as infallibly binding. This is an amusing slogan, as it ignores passages of Scripture that this Sola supposedly solely relies on.

While Protestants insist that the Bible states that Scripture alone is authoritative, they seemingly ignore Bible passages concerning the importance of Tradition (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 11:2, Thes. 2:14, 2 Tim. 1:13-14, 2 Tim. 2:2). If Protestants recognize the importance of Tradition, then that would deem Sola Scriptura unworkable.

If Christians are to rely solely on Scripture alone as their teacher, then how can they possibly pick and choose what passages are relevant to them? For anyone unaware of it, this action is called “cherry-picking”.

Through the use of Sola Scriptura, Protestants eliminate the need for an authority figure to interpret the Bible — anyone can do this themselves now! With Roman Catholic authority gone, any Christian is free to believe whatever he or she thinks that the Bible teaches, with no one to correct their error!

Again, Protestants have adopted a way of thinking that is contrary to their own doctrine. Christians who believe Sola Scriptura ignore biblical texts that deal with private interpretation (2 Peter 3:16), the need for an authoritative teacher (Acts 8:28-31), and the authority given by God to the Apostles (Matthew 18:17-18), which they past down to their successors, the Catholic bishops. They ignore the fact that the Church is the pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), and the authority that it has. For people who rely on Scripture alone, they sure do ignore large portions of it.

For Sola Scriptura to be true, the doctrine would have to be found in Scripture itself, or else it would be self contradictory. This supposed “Christian” doctrine is found nowhere in the Bible, rendering it obsolete. In short, Sola Scriptura is a doctrine allowing any Christian to believe whatever he thinks the Bible teaches, and no one else can tell him otherwise.

Sola Fide, Latin for “By Faith Alone”, means that Christians are saved through faith alone by grace alone. No works are required for salvation, just recognize Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, recite the Sinner’s Prayer, asking Christ to save you from your sin, and BAM! You are saved from eternal Hellfire, guaranteed access to Heaven.

Well thank God for such a simple way of salvation! At one moment of our lives we are able to secure our eternal welfare, without even lifting a finger! Where does God reveal this teaching to us in Scripture?

*ANSWER* *DAILY DOUBLE*

NOWHERE!

The only place in the Bible that the phrase “faith alone” appears is James 2:24:

“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Very interesting that the one Sola that is mentioned in the Bible is mentioned in a negative way. This doctrine of instant salvation (patent pending), is nowhere taught in the Bible, explicitly or implicitly.

Scripture constantly speaks of the importance of good works in salvation (Matthew 19:16-23, Matthew 17:21, Matthew 25:31-46), but again, these passages are ignored. Typical.

Salvation is a lifelong experience, not a one time deal. It begins at a certain time in a person’s life, and does not end until death, when that person is allowed into God’s kingdom. It is utterly foolish for a Protestant to believe that they can secure their salvation at one moment in their life, solely through one act of faith, when the Bible teaches that faith can be departed from (1 Timothy 4:1).

If faith can be departed from, then how can a “saved” Christian be sure of his salvation?

What really makes a difference is a Christian’s faith at the time of death, not the state of his faith 30 or 40 years before then. Sola Fide is just a safety net of supposed salvation, offering a Christian a false eternal security. It completely ignores the importance of good works in salvation. Can a Christian have faith without works? Are works not really required for salvation?

“But whilt thou know, O vain man that faith without works is dead?…For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20, 26)

If faith is all that is needed for salvation, then why does the Bible place equal importance on good works? If anything other than faith is needed for salvation, then Sola Fide is rendered useless. See how small the margin for error is among the Solae?

Sola Gratia, “By Grace Alone”, means that people are saved by grace alone through the merits of Jesus Christ. Catholics agree that we are saved by grace, a gift from the Lord (Eph. 2:8-10). The point that Protestants err is the method that grace is applied to the Christian, the way that God makes this gift of grace available to men. The Roman Catholic Church has always taught the biblical fact that grace is communicated to a Christian through the sacraments (Baptism: Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27-29, Titus 3:3-7; Eucharist: John 6:54, Last Rites: James 5:14-16; Confession: 1 John 1:9, John 20:23; Confirmation: Acts 8:16-17; Holy Orders: Acts 6:6, 1 Timothy 4:14; Matrimony: Genesis 2:22-24, Ephesians 5:31-33, Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Romans 7:2-3). Protestants believe that God just pours out his grace upon a Christian when he accepts Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, without the use of the sacraments. But the problem is that if grace is lost through sin, how is grace to be regained? Does a Christian just continually accept Jesus as their Savior and in turn is gifted grace? Does a Christian just continually ask God for saving grace, and is continually gifted it? How is a Christian to know that they are in the state of grace with certainty?

 The doctrine of Sola Gratia is just a teaching linked to Sola Fide. Salvation is to received solely through blind faith, with no good works or obedience needed. The problem with the Protestant understanding of salvation is that they do not recognize that grace can be communicated to a person through matter; the sacraments. The statement of Sola Gratia itself is not incorrect, but the principle linked to it is heretical.

Sola Deo Gloria is a doctrine that sounds like it carries a great message, but it tries to undermine the importance of the saints in salvation history. “Glory to God Alone” emphasizes that everything is to be done for God’s glory and excludes the fact that some figures of mankind (the saints) are to be honored and venerated. It means that Christians should be both inspired and motivated solely by God’s glory, and not the example of the Christians who have lived before us.

Like many other Protestant beliefs, Sola Deo Gloria ignores certain biblical facts. For instance, in John 17:22, Jesus says that He has given His own glory to the Apostles. Is this of no importance? This is not to say that the Apostles and other saints are to be worshipped like God, but the fact remains that glory, or honor belongs to them.

In Acts 28:10, St. Luke records an instance when he and Paul were about to go out on a sailing trip, the Christians “honoured us with many honours”. These Christians honored Luke And Paul for the evangelizing work they had performed in the area, giving honor where honor was due (Romans 13:7). The Christians honored the example of Paul and Luke, seemingly defying Sola Deo Gloria.

Some Protestants may argue that honor is to be rightly given to the saints, and that Catholics view the Protestant position incorrectly. But this simply is not true, as the saints, in many Protestant denominations are neglected and often ignored. Most Protestants say that Catholics take honor and veneration so far as to  “worship” the saints, but this is not true. The Roman Catholic Church has shown honor to God’s saints, by imitating their holy virtues and asking them for their intercession. Catholics do not worship any of the saints as if they are God.

Giving glory to only God in the aspect of worship is certainly correct, but it must not be forgotten that we, as Christians, are to honor the saints due to the glory they share with Christ, as they are unquestionably partakers of Christ’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

The final Sola is Solo Christo, “Christ Alone”. This Sola teaches that we are saved solely by Christ’s atonement by death on the cross. Like Sola Gratia, this teaching itself is not opposed to Catholic teaching, but several ideas that branch from it are heretical. It is linked to Sola Fide, teaching that works are not necessary for salvation; only faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross is sufficient.

John Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, says:

“Christ stepped in, took the punishment upon himself and bore the judgment due to sinners. With his own blood he expiated the sins which made them enemies of God and thereby satisfied him…we look to Christ alone for divine favour and fatherly love!”

If Christians are to look to Christ alone for divine favor and fatherly love, then where does this leave the remaining two Persons of the Trinity; the Father and Holy Spirit? Calvin’s statement places emphasis on ignoring the Father and Holy Spirit — in order to further promote Solo Christo.

The problem with Solo Christo is that it wishes to place Christians in a “me and Jesus” scenario, ignoring the importance of the Church, sacraments, etc. It ignores the importance of God the Father, whom we were taught to pray to (Matthew 6:9-13), and also the Holy Spirit, the protector of Truth (John 16:13). While we are saved by the atoning work of Christ, we cannot discount the significance of the Trinity, the Church, or good works.

Solo Christo places emphasis on Christ as the sole Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:15), denying anyone else any part of the role of mediator. If Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, then why do Catholics pray to the saints, asking for their intercession?

Catholic Apologist Patrick Madrid, in his article, “Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine” writes:

“It must be made clear that the Catholic Church in no way teaches that the saints are mediators in the special sense used in 1 Timothy 2:5. Because of the Incarnation, Jesus has a unique role as mediator. Since he is the only one who is God and man, the only contact point between us and the Father, only he is capable of bridging the chasm of sin that separates us from God. No saint can take Christ’s place as mediator. The Catholic Church does not teach that any Christian is a mediator in the sense used in 1Timothy 2:5. It teaches instead that all Christians are intercessors who, because of Christ’s mediatorship, are able to pray for each other.(The official Catholic position on this issue appears in Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Rockford: TAN, 1978), Session V (“Decree on Original Sin”), 25-28, Session XXV (“Decree on the Invocation of Saints”), 214-217.) If asking Christians in heaven to pray for us conflicts with Christ’s mediatorship, asking Christians on earth to pray for us conflicts for the same reason. If 1 Timothy 2:5 eliminates intercession by the Christians in heaven, it eliminates intercession by Christians on earth. But this would be a serious misreading. Far from excluding Christians from a share in Christ’s mediatorship, Paul is actually emphasizing that we share in it through intercessory prayers. Our intercessions are effectual precisely and only because Christ is the one mediator.”

Again, like many of the other Solae, Solo Christo seeks to place Christian doctrine in the dark, teaching that Christians cannot ask the saints in Heaven for their intercession, when this practice is perfectly acceptable, as explained above.

In closing, the Five Solae are just summarizations of only parts of the Christian Faith, and other Solas are man-made traditions (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide), that lead Christians away from the full message of God’s Word. The Solae isolate certain teachings of the Faith, like saving grace and Christ’s atonement, in order to keep Christians from recognizing the importance of the Church, sacraments, good works, etc. It creates a “me and Jesus” teaching, ignoring many other aspects of Christianity. Christianity does not rest on “this alone” or “that alone”, but it must be believed in its entirety, not bits and pieces.

God bless,

Patrick Devens

 

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7 thoughts on “A Look at the 5 “Solae”

  1. Hi Patrick,
    I appreciate that you gave attention to all of the Solas. Most of the time you only hear about Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. It definitely made for an interesting read.

    I particularly enjoyed your discussion on how Sola Christus runs the risk of pitting the Son against the Father and the Holy Spirit. The cross wasn’t a Jesus against the Father ordeal; it was Jesus loving the Father and the Father loving his Son through the Holy Spirit, on behalf of mankind.

    On a side note (shameless plug time), I just wrote about the nature of the Holy Trinity in my last post. Feel free to check it out and let me know your thoughts.

    https://onthisrockweb.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/are-christians-polytheists-if-god-is-a-trinity/?frame-nonce=44c0f07da8

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks brother! Yes, I felt that the Bible and Faith Alone doctrines receive quite a lot of discussion (which is good!), but that I hadn’t seen many Catholic articles on the remaining Solae. If you want something done right, do it yourself, ya know? Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Look, I’ve been ignoring this for a good while, but it is starting to annoy me.

    When in history have the Popes been perfect? Many of them disagreed on many points, so how can every pope be the perfect representative of God? Since you have insulted my faith by saying the five Solas are false, I will not hold myself back with what I’m about to say. And that being that the Pope in an arrogant fool with no right to be viewed as the highest source of spiritual authority on this Earth, especially since the Popes act as if you must go through him and those under his authority to be able to gain salvation, which is in itself blasphemous. Martin Luther and the Reformists might’ve not been perfect on every point, but they sure did know that Christ’s gift of salvation is through faith, and not through some papers that the Pope was selling to the people to ensure a couple hundred years spared from Purgatory. (An utter lying scam I would say. Definitely something God wouldn’t approve.)

    I will also say that saying Rome has any sort of authority over spirituality is in itself blasphemous because the Bible shows the empire and influence of Rome as a type of Babylon. (The early Church would refer to Rome as Babylon to avoid being executed.) Also see Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue and the stone to see that the Statue represented all the empires of the world: Head of gold meaning the Babylonian Empire, Chest and arms of silver meaning the Medo – Persian Empire, The brass waist being the Greek empire, the legs of iron being the Roman empire (the two legs indicates the split of the empire), and the feet of clay and iron being a mix of Roman influence and secular influence. Then, Christ will demolish the empire and set up a new kingdom soon, which I would say I can’t wait for, but I also can’t beg God enough for just a little more time so that as many souls can be drawn to Him as possible.

    So my point is, saying a man who’s just as much a sinner as anyone who is treated as some “holy” person, or that Rome is in any way in authority is one good way to lead yourself down the road of following the Antichrist when he comes. I pray you consider following Christ first and foremost and stop honoring men and bad history enough to block true salvation out of what you teach. Do you think Jesus would die on a cross for us to try and drag people under the authority of some man who thinks he’s so special, or do you think He would want us to spend all that time drawing people to God, and letting God work on them Himself? I think God would much rather use the conscience and the authority of His Word to teach HIS sheep over what the Pope believes this time around.

    ALSO, I am not Prodistant. I only look at the scriptures as they are written, and agree with anyone who agrees with what I’ve found within, and don’t try to read into the Bible a bunch of tradition and pagan practices. Luther was very right on some things, but wrong on other things. So was John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, and many others. None were perfect. This shows that I consider the Bile’s authority first and foremost above what some guy in the pulpit or their writings says. Unlike you Catholics who treat men as being some special holy people.

    The point of this comment is to show that I am very different than you in how I treat the Bible. Read the Bible as it is. Don’t filter it through some rich “holy men” in the Vatican.

    I’m done,
    -James

    Liked by 1 person

    • James, you must realize that I have never claimed popes to be perfect. St. Peter (1st Pope) was a sinful man. He himself said that. Many popes throughout the ages have been bad, sinful men. Some, while having taken a vow of celibacy, have had their own mistresses.

      The popes have expressed different private opinions on things, but have never contradicted each other when speaking ex cathedra. Francis, the present pope has made some questionable comments on things, but has not spoken erroneously ex cathedra.

      The pope does not represent God in the sense that he is to be treated as a god on earth. All the Church teaches is that the pope is the earthly head of the RCC.

      You are perfectly welcome to express your feelings on this post — I have never trashed a comment because I disagreed.

      The Pope is the teacher of the Catholic Faith. If Christ actually founded the RCC and left Peter and his successors to look after it, then yes, we all should respect the Church’s authority. God made the bishops overseers of His Church (Acts 20:28), and that is exactly what the pope is.

      Yes, the indulgence sale of the 1500s was a tragic occurrence. It was great of Luther to bring the ordeal to the attention of the Holy See. The Pope was not selling the indulgences however, it was a cardinal.

      Salvation is by grace through faith and obedience. This is what the RCC teaches, having nothing concerning indulgences in salvation.

      Pagan Rome of biblical times is not the same Rome of Christian times. The RCC worships Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Father and Holy Spirit of the Trinity. No pagan gods.

      You say that Rome has no authority, but you make yourself a hypocrite by that statement. You accept the canon of the NT that was promulgated by the RCC do you not? Why does Rome have authority then, but not now?

      Who is to say that the so called “Reformers” had any authority? Any authority they possessed was self-given.

      As a Catholic, my life belongs to Christ. I am far from perfect, as everyone. But I have faith in Christ and am attempting to live my life in obedience to Him. I am called to defend my Faith from Heresy like much of the Reformer’s doctrine contained under the title of “Solas”.

      I invite you to tell me what is wrong with my view of the actual Solas, and not Rome.

      I pray that you come home to the Catholic Church, and I am confident that you will one day. The light is always on for you. The door is unlocked.

      God Bless,

      Patrick

      Liked by 1 person

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