What impact did the “five solas” of the reformation have on the 16th century? Are they still valid foundational aspects of the faith? As a 21st century reformer, what would your five solas for today be?
Theology is like armor. It protects from false teachings and the devil's schemes. In the 16th century, the reformers discovered the armor they unquestioningly accepted from the Roman Catholic Church left them unable to stand when the day of evil came. Thus they threw it off and reforged Christian theology with “five solas.”
Sola Scriptura replaced the Church as the highest authority with that of scripture alone. The bible was translated and printed in vernacular languages so everyone, not just clergy, could read it. Solus Christus declared that Christ alone, not a priest, is our mediator with God so that all were a “priesthood of believers.” Sola Fide& Sola Gratiascrapped the Church's notion that people must do works to pay for sins or that works contributed to salvation in any way. Instead Christianity was revealed as the only religion in which one cannot save themselves, but through faith alone must accept a savior's work through grace alone. Lastly, Soli Deo glorianot only reemphasized life's purpose, but also redirected glory to God alone, and away from men, governments, and the institutionalized Church.
Today these solas continue to protect us. However, we have forgotten that like armor, theology is not an end in itself since it can't bring salvation. We've put our armor on display, and instead of our armor protecting us, we protect our armor in quarrels and debates, looking for chinks in the armor of fellow warriors. Thus, when all is said and done, much more is said than done. Since armor was created for action, our theology should serve in advancing the gospel. Our bibles should wear out relying on Sola Scriptura in daily training with the Sword of Spirit. Gratitude for the cross and Solus Christus should compel us to share the good news of Sola Fide & Sola Gratia with all people through the Holy Spirit. Our desire to know him and to make him known should bring us to a community of believers where we can participate in Soli Deo gloria.