The “Five Solas” are a summation of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation:
Sola scriptura (Scripture Alone)
The Bible is the only authoritative Word of God, not traditions. This is in opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church, that scripture is interpreted through Holy Tradition. It expresses a conviction that scripture is perspicuous and self-interpreting. Catholicism also maintains that other rules of faith than scripture exist, namely the infallible Councils and the Pope.
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
The exclusivity of Christ; Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and there is no other name by which men can be saved. Neither Mary, the saints, false gods, nor the sinner himself can bring salvation.
Sola gratia (Grace Alone)
Salvation comes by grace only, not through any merit on the part of the sinner. Thus salvation is an unearned gift. This is a response to the Catholic doctrine of merit.
Sola fide (Faith Alone)
Salvation comes through faith only, not works. This is the means of grace; the doctrine is that salvation comes, as Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it, by grace through faith, and that faith is not of ourselves, but is itself the result of grace. This saving faith, however, will always be accompanied by good works (see James 2). Other explanation: Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Neither the church nor any other party is an actor therein.
Soli Deo gloria (Glory to God Only)
All the glory is God’s, since He did all the work, not only the atonement on the Cross, but even granting the faith which allows men to be saved by that atonement. Each aspect of Salvation is a gift from God, and thus all praise is His, not man’s. The reformers believed that human beings (such as the Catholic saints and popes) and their organizations (the Church) were not worthy of the glory that was bestowed on them.
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