What was Martin Luther's explanation of Sola Scriptura in his writings? And did he use Sola Scripura by name?


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In a specialised article, solely about this very subject, Stephen Lawson in April 11 2018, stated (quoting Luther) :

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves, I am bound by the Scriptures that I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot to do otherwise. Here I stand, God help me.

By this declaration, Luther testified that the Bible is the sole authority upon which he stood. He asserted the Scripture is a higher authority than church traditions, ecclesiastical councils, or even the pope himself. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had espoused the authority of the Scripture and these other things. But Luther rebutted this position and declared that Scripture alone has the right to rule in the church. By this fearless posture, he established and embodied sola Scriptura.

For Luther and the other reformers, sola Scriptura meant a fundamental commitment to six essential truths about the Bible.

Martin Luther and Sola Scriptura

(This article originally appeared in Expositor Magazine, No. 20, Nov/Dec 2017.)

The rest of this article deals with the six essential truths, in direct connection with Martin Luther himself :

  • The Inspiration of Scripture

  • The Inerrancy of Scripture

  • The Authority of Scripture

  • The Perspicuity of Scripture

  • The Sufficiency of Scripture

  • The Invincibility of Scripture

I recommend the entire article as a very full answer to the stated question.

Quotes of Luther contained in the article :

  • Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scripture.

  • The Holy Spirit is the Author of this book.

  • We attribute to the Holy Spirit all of the holy Scripture.

  • ... the word of God is greater than heaven and earth, yes greater than death and hell, for it forms part of the power of God.

  • The Bible is alive. It speaks to me.

  • The word is flawless, so that not an iota in the law or the divine promises is defective.

  • The apostles show that one should not trust the holy fathers and the church unless it is certain that they have the word of God. Only Scripture is to be considered inerrant.

  • Scripture will not contradict itself on even one article of faith.

  • When they extol the authority of the fathers or they extol the authority of Augustine or of Gregory and likewise of the councils, our answer is 'Those things have no claim on us. We demand the word.'"

  • God…would hold us solely to His word [so] that we may learn to despise the great cry: "Church! Church! Fathers! Fathers! The church cannot err! The church cannot err!"…

  • The meaning of Scripture is in and of itself so certain and accessible and clear that Scripture interprets itself and tests and judges and illumines everything else.

  • If the words are obscure at one place, they will be made clear in another place.

  • What kind of God would He be if His word is insufficient and is in need of supplementing by men?

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