The well-known U. S. Marine motto, Semper Fidelis illustrates how some phrases can vividly communicate much more than a simple saying. Our neighbor was a former Marine and proud of it; he understood and embraced the history and culture of the Marine Corps in the best ways imaginable. We were thankful that God placed us beside him and his family. Oh, and you couldn’t miss that he loved his country and the Corps – the flags he flew and the bumper sticker proclaimed loud and clear who he was.
October is the month that we as Protestants remember and give thanks to God for the Reformation. On the last Sunday of the month we will gather with other reformed believers to humbly celebrate how God used Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and others to issue a clarion call for God’s people to return to the Bible as their only authority in faith and practice. Luther struck the spark that began the firestorm which was the Reformation by posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church the evening before All Saints Day, that is, on All Hallows’ Eve, October 31, 1517. And out of the ensuing controversy Protestantism was born. Five slogans became the rallying points for the Reformation, and we still today need to know them and hold onto everything they convey.
While in my high school Latin class I learned a humorous little ditty:
“Latin is a dead language, as dead as dead can be; First it killed the Romans, and now it’s killing me!”
Tongue in cheek aside, I hope that you are already familiar with these five Latin mottos, the “Solas” of the Reformation. You will certainly not regret the time and effort to learn more about them*. We must understand the history and culture that surrounds the Reformation. And while we should not be antagonistic, we should be strong-minded in what we believe. So this month, let’s give some attention to the study of Reformed theology and wholeheartedly embrace all that is good and true of the Reformation. The 5 Solas certainly exhibit Biblical Truth, so I hope that you will know and love these Latin phrases.
Sola Scriptura = Scripture Alone
Sola Fide = Faith Alone
Sola Gratia = Grace Alone
Solus Christus = Christ Alone
Soli Deo Gloria = Glory to God Alone
Maybe our friends and neighbors will ask us sometime why we are so zealous for God alone to get the glory and the Bible alone to be our ultimate authority; maybe then we can share the Good News of salvation by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone!
Looking forward to worshiping with many of you on Reformation Sunday evening,
*Two modern stalwarts of the faith will prove excellent teachers: James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World; and R. C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? (which is available in print, audio, or video).
(Featured Image from http://www.solacookeville.com)