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The 500TH Anniversary of The Reformation

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THE MAIN TENANTS OF THE REFORMATION – THE FIVE “SOLAS”

The “SOLAS” of the Protestant Reformation are a set of doctrines held by theologians and churchmen to be central to that period of change in the western Christian church. Each sola— from the Latin meaning "alone" or "only"—represents a key belief held by the reformers of the 16th century in contrast to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The precise number of SOLAS varies, but lists of three and five are common.

The SOLAS were not systematically brought together until the 20th century. But sola gratia and sola fide were used by the reformers themselves. For example, in 1554 Philip Melanchthon wrote, "sola gratia justificamus et sola fide justificamur” ("only by grace do you justify, and only by faith are we justified"). All the SOLAS show up in various writings by the Protestant reformers, but they do not all appear in one place. In the earliest references to the SOLAS, three were typically mentioned: Scripture over tradition, faith over works, and grace over merit. Each of these pairs of terms is intended to highlight how Protestant teaching differs from Roman Catholic teaching.

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