Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Guiding Principle of the English Reformation - What About Sola Scriptura?

Along with the magisterial reformation on the continent of Europe, the English reformers embraced the idea of sola scriptura. What sola scriptura meant for the reformers is that the Scriptures are the only intrinsically infallible authority for the knowledge of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what this idea has come to mean in popular parlance, sola scriptura was not a rejection of the authority of the Church Catholic in matters of doctrine, worship and polity. The Church carried authority but its authority was not intrinsically infallible. The Creeds, the reflections of the early Church Fathers, the practical wisdom of the Bishops of the Church, etc. -- these had an important and authoritative role in reflecting upon doctrine, worship and polity. However, at any place where these things clearly contradicted the plain teaching of scripture they were to be rejected.

When Anglicans read the Bible, they seek to read it with Church -- just as Luther and Calvin did. The reformer's criticism of Rome was not that Rome saw the Church as authoritative, but that it saw the Church as carrying an intrinsic infallibility parallel to the authority of the Bible. They cared deeply about about retaining the catholicity of the Church and they cared deeply about confessing a faith that stood in the stream of the historic orthodoxy of the Church Catholic.


Samuel Lago said...


Maybe you could continue to post on the "Normative Principle" (Hooker) in contrast to the popular "regulative principle"?

Peter Milner said...

I would love to talk over some of this stuff with you.
Please email me at
I am working on becoming ordained
in the AMIA, I play guitar, I love
politics, I love Jesus, I have
two kids, I blog, I am passionate
about St. Francis of Assissi, and
Ausgustine--epecially his Confessions, and I was
educated at Duke Divinity
School, a bastion of protestant liberalism, which is dying, and yet a good place to learn a language of which to critique evangelicalism.
Peace bro
Peter Milner