The foundational theological principles of the Reformation.
The Reformation took place over a period of 130 years. It began in 1517 with the publication of Martin Luther’s ‘Ninety-five Theses’ and continued until around 1638. It represented a complete sea-change in Christianity giving, as it did, access to scripture and theology to the common people – the likes of you and me! The reformers believed that the established church had drifted away from the essential, original scriptural teachings of Christianity, especially with respect to salvation. They sought to re-orientate Christianity back to Christ’s message, scripture, and the practices and teaching of the early church. Over a period of time, five Latin phrases – known as the Five Solæ – came to collectively identify the foundational theological principles of the Reformation and they’re now more commonly known as the 5 Pillars of Reformed Theology.
Sola Gratia (Grace alone) The only method: Our salvation is solely by the sovereign grace of God and not dependent on any action or condition man provides.
Sola Fide (Faith alone) The only means: Our justification before God is by faith in Christ alone and not by works.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) The only foundation: Scripture is the only infallible and sufficient rule for governing issues of life and doctrine.
Solus Christus (Christ alone) The only mediator: Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man; salvation is possible only by His death and resurrection.
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone) The only ambition: All glory and honour are due to God alone.
What does this have to do with our sacrifice of praise? Everything! These fundamental truths should be interwoven into every area of our lives including our song. The great composer Bach declared, ‘The aim and final end of all music should none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.’ Well, that’s certainly something I can identify with; it’s utterly uplifting to be part of a choir of God’s people.
Examples of hymns that support this include:
Sola Gratia : Amazing Grace, Grace Greater than our Sin, Fountain of Never Ceasing Grace.
Sola Fide : Great is Thy Faithfulness, Be Thou my Vision.
Sola Scriptura : The Psalms as they’re drawn directly from Scripture.
Solus Christus : In Christ Alone, The Church’s One foundation.
Soli Deo Gloria : Holy, holy, holy, To God be the Glory.
There are, of course, countless more but this is really just to underline that our hymnody can greatly support and express our theology.