Scripture alone

Scripture alone (from the Reformation slogan Sola Scriptura) is the teaching that Scripture is the Church's only infallible and sufficient rule for deciding issues of faith and practices that involve doctrines. While the Bible does not contain all knowledge, it does contain that which is necessary for salvation. Indeed, if something is not found in Scripture, it is not binding upon the believer. This view does not deny that the Church has the authority to teach God's Word. Furthermore, while tradition is valuable, it but must be tested by the higher authority of the Scriptures.

Sola Scriptura "does not mean that the Reformers rejected everything that every Christian in earlier ages has said: indeed, they often cited the early Christians as supporters of their own positions. However, they recognized that those earlier believers were not inspired, were not inerrant, and, in fact, quite often made errors in their judgments and beliefs, just as people do today. The only infallible rule of faith, they argued, is found in the pages of Holy Writ." [1]

In all of this, the role of the Holy Spirit is vital. The Word can only be received and obeyed by the Holy Spirit.

Catholic Position: The Catholic position on Sola Scriptura differs from Protestantism. Romans Catholics believe the Bible is inspired and the infallible original manuscripts. Catholics also do not believe in Sola Scriptura due to the fact that there is no guide to decipher important theological issues without the Church. The Catholic Church collected and organized the Holy Scriptures via Tradition, and has the Papal Office guiding and helping decipher important scripture verses.



  • "You have Scripture for a master instead of me; from there you can learn whatever you would know." -John Chrysostom

  • "Among those things which are said openly in Scripture are to be found all those teachings which involve faith, the mores of living, and that hope and charity which we have discussed." -Augustine, On Christian Doctrine trans. by D.W. Roberston, Jr. (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1958) 11:9.

  • "The Church is to be judged by the Scriptures, not the Scriptures by the Church." - John Wesley

  • "Let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth." - Basil of Caesarea (c. 330 - 379 A.D.) [2]

  • "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed." Westminster Confession of Faith



  • The Shape of Sola Scriptura, by Keith A. Mathison (Canon Press, 2001) ISBN 1885767749
    • R.C. Sproul says, "This work by Keith Mathison is the finest and most comprehensive treatment of the matter I've seen."
  • Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, by Don Kistler 
  • Scripture Alone, by James White (Bethany House Publishers, 2004) 
  • Scripture Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine, by R.C. Sproul (P & R Publishing, 2005). Review


  • Not by Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura, by Robert A. Sungenis (editor) 
  • Scripture Alone?: 21 Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura, by Joel Peters 

See also

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