Thursday, December 23, 2010

Theology Thursday


(Latin, “the Scripture alone”)
Belief of Protestants that Christian Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in matters of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura was coined during the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, but according to Protestants, is found throughout Christian history. The belief in Sola Scriptura contrasts both the Catholic, Mormon, Jehovah”s Witness, and Eastern Orthodox belief that along with Scripture there necessarily exists an infallible authority which either interprets the Scripture with ultimate authority or adds new revelations to supplement the Scripture. Hence, in these traditions, the Scripture is not the final, ultimate, or only infallible authority as there are other authorities equal to that of Scripture. Protestants, on the other hand, while respecting the existence of other authorities (tradition, experience, reason, creation, etc.), do not believe that these are equal to that of Scripture and therefore must always be tested by, and submitted to, Scripture.


A tradition in Christianity that claims to represent the church the most faithfully due to its adherence to the traditions, beliefs, and practices of the early church. Though many would see the Eastern Orthodox church as simply “Catholicism without a Pope,” the Orthodox would reject such a simplified identification. Not only do they not have a living infallible authority, such as the Pope, but they approach theology from a more mystical, and less rationalistic, perspective. Their theology primarily comes from the first seven ecumenical councils as, according to the Orthodox, these councils represent a perfect representation of the Christian faith. Claiming to be the most “ancient faith” and an uncompromised liturgy, the Eastern Orthodox church boasts over two-hundred and fifty million members worldwide.


A tradition in Christianity which found its self-identity as “Protestant” in the sixteenth-century Reformation. Protestantism began when the church, according to Protestants, lost the Gospel during the middle to late middle ages and reformers began to “protest” this loss. Martin Luther, often seen as the father of Protestantism, rejected the Pope”s claims to infallible authority, believed that the Gospel was being lost to a system of works-based salvation, and confessed the Bible alone was the only infallible and ultimate source of authority for the Christian. Protestantism is not a church, but a tradition which claims to have restored or reformed the Gospel, and hence, the church. Protestantism is made up of thousands of denominations (various expressions of the Protestant faith) and boasts nearly four hundred million members world-wide.


A tradition in the Christian faith that distinguishes itself as the “one true church.” The primary distinctives of Roman Catholicism from other traditions of Christianity are 1) the bishop of Rome who claims apostolic succession, infallibility, and the authority of Peter the Apostle, 2) its claims to absolute and infallible authority in matters of faith and practice, 3) its claim to doctrinal fidelity with both the history of the church and biblical interpretation, and 4) the unity that is produced by such fidelity. Other major Christian traditions that would deny such claims are Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Roman Catholicism boasts of over one billion members.


[air''-ee-uh-niz''-um] The teachings of 4th Century theologian Arius who lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt. His controversial teachings on the relationship of Jesus Christ to God the Father led to the Council of Nicea. Arius believed that Jesus was not one with the Father, and that he was not fully divine in nature, though almost. The Council deemed Arius’ teaching heretical and homoousioswas declared the official teaching of the Church.

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