From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
It will not do to make articles of faith from the works or words of the holy Fathers. If we did, what they ate, what they wore, the kinds of houses they lived in, etc., would have to become articles of faith, as was done with relics. The rule is: the Word of God shall establish articles of faith—no one else, not even an angel.
Pulling It Together
We have a rule to live by: sola Scriptura. This does not mean, as some think, that we speak only where Scripture speaks and are silent on all other matters. It means that the writings of the Old and New Testament are “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged” (Formula of Concord). It goes to the “what is written.” Is a teaching in line with what the Word of God teaches? Yes? Then you may live by such a teaching. No? It may be discarded without guilt or regret.
But what if my bishop told me to follow this teaching? What is written? What if my conscience tells me to do it? What does the Scripture teach? What if my pastor and church Council say I have to do it to be a member of the congregation? Does the Word teach otherwise? But I heard the voice of an angel telling me to believe thus and so. What do you hear in the Scripture alone? Does the Word of God agree with the voice of the angel, your conscience, Council, pastor, bishop?
Prayer: Help me live my life in accord with your Word, Lord. Amen.
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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is an advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.