This October, we’re spending our Sunday mornings looking back to the very beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, 500 years ago. Specifically, we’re examining the “Five Solas” that arose from the movement started by Martin Luther.
“Sola” is the Latin word for “alone”. The Five Solas are the core convictions that separated the Protestants of Martin Luther’s day from the Roman Catholic Church of his time. These five convictions are:
- Sola Fide (“Faith alone”)
- Sola Gratia (“Grace alone”)
- Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)
- Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”)
- Sola Deo Gloria (“For the glory of God alone”)
To learn more about these five convictions, we encourage you to join us on Sunday mornings. However, if you want to dig even deeper into the Protestant Reformation – or if you can’t attend Sunday mornings in October – here are a few recommended resources.
1. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Roland H. Bainton)
Even though this book is well over 50 years old, it is still widely considered the go-to biography of Martin Luther. Bainton tells Martin Luther’s story from beginning to end – and does so in a way that is engaging and informative. While Martin Luther is certainly not the only figure who played a role in the Protestant Reformation, he is the man who started it all. You can’t truly begin to understand the Protestant Reformation if you don’t know Martin Luther.
2. The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation (Michael Reeves)
In this book, Reeves examines the historical background of the Protestant Reformation. What happened in the years leading up to 1517? Why was Martin Luther a prime candidate to lead such a movement? Who followed in Martin Luther’s footsteps? What impact did the Reformation in Germany have on the surrounding world? And perhaps most importantly, the final chapter asks:”Is the Reformation Over?” This book is both entertaining and accessible, even if you don’t consider yourself much of an historian.
3. Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity (Kevin Vanhoozer)
This book is not a biography; nor is it simply a book of history. Vanhoozer is a Protestant theologian, and he examines each of the Five Solas through a Biblical and theological lens. What were the Reformer’s original goals and concerns? How have the Solas been criticized over the past 500 years? What do the Five Solas mean for Protestant Christians today? And just as significantly, what do they not mean? Of the three recommendations I offer, this book might be the most in-depth; get a pen ready to underline or write notes. That being said, it is wonderfully thought-provoking; you may find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, and a new appreciation and understanding of what it means to be Protestant.
Each of these books has been enormously helpful to me in preparation for these sermons. They’re all relatively short, easy to find, and affordable. One thing we Protestant Christians aren’t always good at is knowing our history; but reading these books would go a long way in helping us better understand who we are, how we got here, and where we ought to be going as we move forward. I’d highly encourage you to dig into each of them.