I don’t quite understand what Luther’s Burr was. He initiated Sola Scriptura. Why would he do that. That as I see it is a major trip up for Protestants. Of course I am biased here. Wasn’t he seeing some kind of abuses in the church or so he felt anyway?


Hi Bill,
I don’t believe sola scriptura was Luther’s central theme. He probably never used the term, though he certainly felt scripture should be the sole rule and norm the Church should use for determining doctrine. Luther called Justification the doctrine upon which the Church rises or falls.


The Bible comes from a process of “determining doctrine”. What are we going to put in this thing. They decided earlier. So with this justification doctrine did he dismiss absolution? A Holy Sacrament. Given by Jesus himself ? Was he able to forgive sins in his church? He certainly couldn’t pass down the lineage of the Apostolic succession.


Why is Justification the main doctrine?

None were dismissed: Holy Absolution, Eucharist, Baptism. I’d encourage a reading of his Small Catechism on these subjects.


I thought Lutherans believe in consubstantian not transubstantiation like Catholics. That’s a certainly different kind of Eucharist. Do Holy Orders exist in Lutheranism?


No Lutheran known to me believes in consubstantiation.

Do Holy Orders exist in Lutheranism?


Ok Maybe I made a mistake. Someone believes in “consubstantian”. Ok that’s Episcopals. Sorry.

Consubstantiation is what the Council of Trent called Luther’s teaching, since Trent emphasized Transubstantiation as the more correct means of the mystery of the Real Presence in the Catholic faith.

So, yes, many Lutherans will deny it (especially since many today do not believe it as Luther stated at the time); however Catholics believe this is what Luther claimed without using those words.

No. That group that believed consubstantiation was called the Lollards.


Never can tell what you might with an Episcopalian, though. Motley, they be.

Haven’t used that word for a while.


I found that anyway.

Don’t tempt me. :smiley:

Yes, there were abuses in the Church by its members. Sin in the members of the
Church does not eclipse what the Church teaches. There are saints in the Church also.

ISTM that, for Luther and the other reformers, they saw practices such as indulgences, and other teachings, as undermining the doctrine of justification.


It comes down to what you think Sola Scriptura means. One problem lies in terminology. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Tradition is bad or irrelevant. If it was, then almost all of the content of Confessio Augustana is irrelevant. In the Lutheran tradition, Sola Scripturameans that Scripture is the highest authority. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it is easy to understand, or that no one can, or must, be charged with its interpretation. Again, Sola Scripturadoesn’t mean, in the Lutheran tradition, that we do not need an interpretive office. It simply means that this office doesn’t stand above Scripture, but is its servant, as a supreme court judge doesn’t stand above the constitution but serves and upholds it.

In many ways, Scripture is the equivalent of a constitution. A constitution has primacy, but you can have other, binding, laws, as long as those do not contradict the constitution. To use modern terminology, the Lutheran position known historically as Sola Scripturawould better be described as Prima Scriptura.

And this is, incidentally, also the position of Dei Verbum, and of Joseph Ratzinger/pope (em.) Benedict XVI. In Dei Verbum, this is pointed out in paragraph 10:

This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

In Dogma and Preaching, which is available on Google Books, Ratzinger presents his case, on pp.26-39. What Ratzinger says there is that Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium, and the concrete, contextual faith of the faithful depend on each other, but that primacy belongs first to Scripture, then to Tradition (focusing on the Creeds and Dogmas), then to the Magisterium (the servant of Scripture and Tradition), and then to the concrete faith as it is lived out in the dioceses and parishes. One key passage comes on page 38: “[T]he Bible has such an absolutely unique normative importance because it alone is really the sole book of the Church as Church.”

We find the same pattern in Lutheranism: Scripture is the norm which norms other norms (norma normans non normata); Tradition (with emphasis on Creeds and Dogmas, and on liturgy and Canon Law) are norms that are normed by Scripture (norma normata); the ordained priesthood, with the bishops as leaders, has the task to preach and interpret that which has been handed over (Confessio Augustana 4, 28); and this has to be lived out in the context of the faithful’s own lives.

Try this, Bill, remembering that just as Lutherans should listen to what Catholics say about their faith, so too, Catholics should listen to Lutherans about ours. From there, it seems, fruitful dialogue can grow.




Was Luther’s and the other reformers opinions on this unique to them? That is, while they did draw on sources before them, biblical and patristic, would it be right to say they formed the basic definition which so divided the western church?

So what is the difference then between the Sola scriptura churches (in your use of the definition) and those that reject the doctrine on any definition?

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