Martin Luther learned sola scriptura from whom?


I did not claim it is not in accord with Scripture. I am saying it is part of Sacred Tradition. All of Sacred Tradition is in accord with Scripture. The liturgical calendar is another example - not contained in Scripture, but practiced by the Church.

It is fully supported from the perspective that we have, since we receive the concept of the Trinity through Sacred Tradition, but there are some who do not “see” it (like Oneness Pentacostals). My point is that the word Trinity is part of the Sacred Tradition.

Yes, but the term Theotokos is part of Sacred Tradition. And the reason it needed to be coined was because not everyone does see what you and I see in Scripture. It is a matter of perspective. The Arians and Gnostics do not “see” this. When we look at Scripture through the lens of Sacred Tradition, we perceive it differently. Just as when we look at through lenses created at the Reformation (like Sola Scriptura) we see it differently.

I am not sure what you mean by this. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are two strands of the one Divine Deposit of Faith. Their author is the Holy Spirit, and that is why they compliment one another, never contradict. I am pointing out that you accept things that are part of Sacred Tradition, such as the table of contents in the Bible, that are not part of Scripture.

Not all these things are so explicit in Scripture. If they were, we would not have certain factions that do not “see” what we see. We would not have had to combat heresies like dyothelitism.

Sounds like great grist for a new thread!

I can certainly stipulate that many of the practices Luther observed that provoked him to wrath have no place in Sacred Tradition.

And you find this teaching where?


I don’t think so. Luther did not have any disagreement with Catholic faith that our sins are forgiven by grace, through faith, by the blood of Christ.

I await some source references, at which time I will be very welcome!

I do agree that the term is, but the doctrine/concept is Apostolic. If it were not, then there would be a disconnect in other Churches founded by Apostles. The Eastern Orthodox do not use this term, but have the same theology. All the Churches founded by Apostles do.

I also agree that it was not derived by Scripture. The Catholic faith was whole and entire before a word of the NT was ever written. It would be more accurate to say that the New Testament reflects the Catholic faith. We are not “people of the book”, such that we derive our faith from the Scripture by extraction. Scripture embodies Catholic faith, but is not the Source of it. Jesus is the Source.

I don’t think this is why he rejected it. Luther also accepted that the liturgy did not come from Scripture.

This is also the point of the East, and one with which I agree. I think the efforts of the West to explain, define, and pigeonhole the mysteries may drive more wedges than bridges. It is an ongoing angst of mine.

Yes, of course. The Catholic understanding differs in that we accept Jesus words that without the Body and Blood, we will have no life in us. In accepting them, we are accepting His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. There is no separation between the anamnesis and the event that accomplished it (death on the cross).


I think we should be careful on the concept of cherry-picking. This weakness is prevalent in most everyone. Additionally, I think that the whole fear of sola Scripture controversy is not a healthy distinction for the churches to quibble about. Primarily, the Gospel is held in the Scripture, and that has the power to save. I personally, don’t have a technical definition of all the Solas, but I find them very beneficial sources during meditation on the Word an God’s works.


This is a good thread, just be careful not to personalize it. What Lutheran Christians and Catholic Christians have in common is far more important than what divides us.

I wish the issue of Luther and the NT canon were addressed, as connected to his belief on Sola Scriptura. I know he earlier suggested certain of the familiar 27 NT books might not be inspired, but that he later accepted them. Why did he not challenge all of them? Or add others to the list?

You can’t argue Tradition is valid only if supported by Scripture, on the canon question. (I would argue both the canon of Scripture, and the “canon” of Sacred Tradition, are validated by the Magisterium.)

In effect, Luther accepted the Magisterium as STILL authoritative in his lifetime, for its NT canon selection in the past, but not authoritative in the present. Starting When did Luther thing Sola Scriptura became authoritative? As of when did he think new actions of the Magisterium were no longer authoritative?


I think this is a great question. Luther’s opinion of the canonicity of the New Testament books, as well as the canonicity of the Old Testament books generally reflected the arguments and debate that had been expressed in the Church for centuries. As an example, he had questions about James and 2 Peter. But he was hardly the first church father to ask whether these books were inspired, as they were accepted relatively late in the game in comparison to the four gospels and the Pauline corpus.

I think here is where many make a mistake about Luther. Luther would be appalled that he would be thought to have no concern for tradition, or that he didn’t believe in the teaching authority of the Church. Luther upholds tradition, and he takes extremely seriously the teaching authority of the Church. When you read the Augsburg Confession, which Luther subscribed to, you will see for example in Article V that the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted that we may obtain the faith the works righteousness before God. In Article XV, it is taught that traditions which are profitable for good order, which can be observed without sin ought to be observed. Luther wasn’t against either. He affirmed both. However, he did not assume that the Church is infallible in faithfully performing its duty as the teaching authority of the Church, nor was tradition. His issue was where one or the other erred by contradicting the apostolic teaching that was handed down to us in scripture. And to answer your question, he came to this conclusion during the Leipzig debates with John Eck in 1519.


There were different “families” in the ancient Church: for instance, the Gnostic Christians are famous, but there were several others, including that Magisterium family. Some scholars argue the Magisterium family wasn’t holier than the other families, they won by being aggressive, stifling rival Christians rival scriptures.

The different families had wildly different Christian theologies and canons, but also had little debates within each particular family. As you point out, Luther was sort of in line with some previous thinkers, but only (WITHIN THE MAGISTERIUM FAMILY.) No non Magisterium Christian Gnostic gospels for him. Why not?

Luther respected (Magisterium definited) ECFs, and avoided (Magisterium labelled) “heretics” of the ancient world. In other words he accepted the magisterium as authoritative in, say, 330, 430, etc. But not in 1530.


There is so much error here it is going to take about 4500 words to address this.

There were not different families within the ancient Church, and the orthodox just won the day through being aggressive. That is a complete misread of the history of the early Church. To say the docetics or the gnostics were within the Christian family is laughable. First, they were more influenced by Greek philosophy than they were by the apostolic teaching, which is WHY they had to create a completely separate canon of scripture apart from the Church in the mid-to-late second century and early third century. It wasn’t just a matter of different interpretation of the scripture which the magisterium held, and they rejected. They rejected the teaching and the scriptures of the Church. This is evident when you read many of the gnostic gospels which normally start with making the claim that so-and-so (name a supposed gnostic apostle…Judas, Mary Magdalene, etc.) had special knowledge of the real teaching of Christ. These scriptures were competing against the orthodox scriptures because the orthodox scriptures didn’t support their beliefs.

The adoptionists, modalists, and subordinationists are a different case, but they were ultimately rejected because their philosophies contradicted scripture.

But going back to your assertion that the Magisterium was somehow more aggressive isn’t the case either. It was the Arians that were far more aggressive in pushing their teachings and in coopting the Roman Authorities to include Constantine and his immediate successors to wield political power to squash the Orthodox viewpoint.


Your assumption here is that the orthodox view of the canon of scripture was set from day 1, which is not the case. In fact, Roman Catholic apologists will make this claim on the one hand to say this is the way it always was with regard to the acceptance of the deuterocanonicals, but then make the exact opposite claim with regard to the New Testament scriptures, saying it took time for this to be formed to demonstrate the need for Sacred Tradition as a pillar of infallible authority on the same level as scripture. Which is it? If it was developed, as Eusebius and other early historians and documents would show, is your argument that people such as Jerome were not orthodox because they questioned the canonicity of the antilegomena (disputed works)? Your statement creates far more issues than you realize.

Once again, Luther’s quotes regarding the antilegomena reflected the dialogue of the early Church Fathers, but though he had questions, he accepted them as canonical. To group Luther with the gnostics is quite historically inaccurate and quite frankly insulting. If you read the Lutheran Confessions you would see that they are orthodox in what they confess.

Once again, you mischaracterize Luther here. The magisterium is the teaching authority of the church. Luther absolutely believed in this. Article V of the Augsburg Confession states: “That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted.” However, Luther did not believe that the Church’s responsibility to teach the gospel made them infallible. He pointed out where specific doctrines and practices of his day were in error, demonstrating from the scriptures that they were teaching or practicing things that were contradicting the gospel. He did not reject the magisterium, he said the magisterium is faithful when the gospel is purely taught and the sacraments are rightly administered, and he said that the scriptures norm what we teach and practice.

This is in contrast to today’s understanding of the magisterium as being infallible, so whatever she teaches must be correct. The fear that I have is that this understanding of the magisterium is detrimental to correcting error within the Church. Athenasius who ended up being nearly the only person of his day to voice his opposition to the Arians certainly didn’t believe that the Arians who held the majority of bishoprics after Constantine represented an infallible teaching authority by virtue of their office.


Luther (implicitly) accepted the infallibility of the early Magisterium, accepting its NT canon, the Magisterium identified ECF, and the Magisterium identified heretics as heretics.
Luther accepted a lot of Magisterium infallibility. So do all Protestants today.


You keep using that word infallibility. I don’t think you know what it means (Princess Bride moment). Infallible means incapable of making mistakes or being wrong, never wrong, always effective. So if Luther accepted many teachings of the Catholic Church (God is the creator, man sinned, Christ came, Christ died for sin, God has revealed himself in the Trinity, etc.) but denied other teachings (we are justified by works, purgatory, holding mass for pay in honor of the dead effects forgiveness of sin apart from their faith and repentance, etc.), then where does the infallible part come into play? It doesn’t. Luther did not believe that the Church is infallible in the administration of its teaching authority. Luther believed the church can and has erred and is subject to correction through the proclamation of God’s Word.


Obviously it was infallible on the things that Luther agreed with and fallible on the things he didn’t.


Again, I point you back to the definition of the word infallible as it is actually defined, not as its Roman Catholic dogma. Not trying to be facetious or insulting in my response, you are just missing the point.


(I was being facetious in my response)


Fair enough. Its hard to tell because the doctrine of infallibility as it has been defined since Trent is that convoluted that its hard to tell if someone is joking.


“Proclamation of God’s word” (how do we know what that is?) presupposes the Magisterium WAS infallible in:

  • Designating the NT as “Scripture”;
  • Designating which books are in the NT;
  • Designating that the OT is still Scripture for Christians too.

Big presuppositions!


No, actually we don’t have to make that presupposition. Roman Catholics make that presupposition BECAUSE of their view of an infallible Magisterium, but you don’t have to hold that view to trust scripture.


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