Reformation distinctives addressed by scholars

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – While Pope Francis visited the United States for the first time, leading evangelical scholars defended the “Five Solas,” central themes of the Reformation, at the 2015 Theology Conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

With the approaching 500th anniversary in 2017 of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, the signature moment of the Protestant Reformation, speakers at the conference emphasized the distinctiveness of the Reformed tradition from the Roman Catholic tradition.

“[A] Reformation understanding of grace sees God’s presence to people as mediated through the Word of God – especially the Word of God preached,” said Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pa., during the Sept. 24-25 conference. “It’s the Word of God – not the sacraments, as in Medieval Catholicism – which was the primary means of God dealing graciously with His people.”

Let me put forth my observation.

At the cost of sounding protestant (not that there’s anything wrong with it) I’d have to agree with the assessment that it’s God’s word that draws man to Him and not the sacraments.

This coming from one who teaches the sacraments.

But that’s exactly why I can say this. You can teach all you want to, you can be baptized, confirmed, and confessed, it does’t mean you’ve accepted the Word of God or God.

I see this too often and I do believe the church should start saying something I always make it a point to say: God imparts grace in a special way throught the sacraments, but if we are NOT willing or desireous to accept this grace it will be of no effect and/or affect.

I do wish this would be made clear.


The conference contradicts its own main points.

  • If God does not use “mediators” then isn’t the conference itself a “mediator”, human beings who read the bible (and lots of other things), then tell other people what they need to know?

  • The conference is held at a “seminary” which draws some of its credibility from a (man-made) Baptist Convention. The article draws some of its credibility from being in a church publication. All of that shows considerable movement away from personal reliance on the Bible alone. All of that would be rejected by some people in the past and present who look to the Reformation. (“A seminary?” What happened to “no mediator between God and the believer”?)

  • One of the scholars - (scholars? sounds like man-made authorities?) depended on Augustine, and the Early Church Fathers; and also other human authorities from the Reformation era, for some input. None of those sources are the Bible. The problem is once you introduce some tradition, then who’s to say which tradition is authoritative? That is one reason why churches that preach Sola Scriptura tend to disagree, sometimes oppose each other. They (unconsciously) really rely on different traditions.

  • Did the conference emphasize the importance of the individual getting guidance from God in prayer and reading Scripture? Well, not exactly. “…modern churches need to champion the pulpit as the place where God meets His people”. The pulpit?

Well said. Excellent points made.


Problem 1: I just don’t know how five things all “alone” can really be so.

I disagree with the article, but I recognize the great work the Southern Baptist Convention has done in upholding some of the common Christian tradition, especially on morality. Like us, they do believe some things are absolutely right or wrong, true or false. At at time when so many Protestant denominations, including some Baptist conventions, have abandoned their own Christian heritage, the Southern Baptists have mostly resisted the temptation to obey the secular media.

I think Catholics can relate to Baptists not only by explaining Catholicism, but by showing some elements of what Baptists believe are not unlike Catholicism. It is interesting how one speaker noted that in Catholic cathedrals the focus was on the Eucharist, while Reformation Protestant cathedrals focused on the pulpit, with the minister doing something “theological”. In other words, their pulpit is a little like a sacrament…

Flannery O’Connor, a Catholic author who lived in the South, pointed out that Southern Baptists, etc were closer to Catholicism than they, or we, realized.

I agree that the sacraments are powerful encounters with Christ, but the recipient, through prayer, needs to be open to the tremendous graces that our Lord Jesus Christ wants to give us.

The Lord takes us from where we are coming, when we are sincere and want to change. It is easy for complacency to come about when daily prayer is not taken seriously, and our choices of how we entertain ourselves detracts from our goal.

It helps much when the family prays together, and the parents take the faith seriously.

Hello Dorothy,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Agreeing doesn’t seem to make for good threads; I’m new here and am starting to learn. However, it is very edifying!

Your last sentence is key. Most parents view catechism as a chore. The children are not taught to attend Mass and I often wonder why they even send them; not that they shouldn’t - anything is better than nothing. But if what the kids are taught would be reinforced at home? I shudder to think! :slight_smile: All we do, incl the priest, is complain and wonder what could be done.

Regarding the O.P., we ARE starting to use the bible more. I’ve always used it. And, tell me if I’m wrong, I think God’s justice also needs to be taught and not only His love. I’ve been doing that too, in a gentle way of course - but some priests will go so far as to tell you not to mention hell. It’s like learning how to drive withough knowing what the red traffic light means!

Thanks for your nice reply.


Yes, God’s justice has to be taught. We do have options,(refusing God’s grace, or submitting ourselves to Him) and need to learn about them. If we turn our backs on God and do not obey, He will not force us. We have many opportunities in this lifetime to repent.

In the last few years in my diocese, bible studies are abounding! It started at the Cathedral, and then spread to several other churches. I have been attending the Jeff Cavins Bible Timeline study and this is the 6th year I am going to another parish to attend them.

I very much like the last sentence in your post!



LOL. Yes, their alones are never alone. Oh the irony of it.

I certainly wouldn’t agree with this. For many baptized as infants, baptism is the beginning of faith. Of course faith comes by hearing, but we come under grace via baptism.


Am I misunderstanding here??

Sola doesn’t mean “one” or “alone”. Sola means “only”.

It means, for instance, these are the only 5 things we believe in. Meaning the most important five, or that there are not others.


Do you believe that people who are not baptized do not receive God’s grace?


If you want to say only scripture then the Latin is tantum scriptura.

So again, their alones are never alone.

The wheels fly and the colors spin
Through alcohol
Red wine that punctures the skin
Face to face In a dry and waterless place

What does a baptist have in common with Luther? Would they not just consider him catholic lite?

Hi Duane 1966

Could we get the scriptura thing straight?

Solo Scriptura LITERALLY means Scripture Alone
But what it’s meaning to say is: Only Scripture
Protestants believe only in scripture. That makes more sense than saying I believe in scripture alone.

It’s like Italian: Hang the clothes, would not be translated
“appendere or attacare i panni” (hang) it would be rather: “stendere i panni” - stendere means to spread.

If you don’t agree it’s okay. I’m ending it here.

Went to the U2 concert in Torino on Sept 4.
There are no words; either in English or Italian! (or probably latin!)

God bless you
P.S. You quoted one of my favorite U2 songs.

Summaries I have read written by Baptists, or similar backgrounds, honor Luther for starting the process of the Reformation. They regarded his continuing attachment to some “Catholic” forms and beliefs as understandable, given his background. Of course, Baptists themselves allow for many different Baptist perspectives on many issues.

But hey, I’m a papist, I’m just guessing. What we need on CAF are more Baptists posting. They probably know the Baptist perspective better than I do. When non Catholic posters do come on boards, let’s be welcoming, no attacks or rants (not referring to IgnatianPhilo, but other guys). Maybe they’ll come back often.

As a member of the parish and diocesan Inquisition Committees, of course I help maintain all our torture instruments stored in the basement. But we’re not supposed to let people suspect we still have all that, till we take power. In the meantime, keep our posts friendly and informative.

Excellent! Little do they know they are getting closer to the poison donut.

sola does mean alone .

I accept and stand corrected.

In Christ

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