Does Sola Scriptura mean that all Protestants must agree on everything?

by Matt Slick

No, the teaching of Sola Scriptura does not mean that all Protestants must agree on everything. Sola Scriptura, which is the teaching that the Bible is the final authority in all things it addresses, does not mean that all Protestants must agree on every detail. In fact, the Scriptures themselves say that we are not obligated to do so.

Romans 14:1-5, "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind."

Paul the apostle teaches us that we are not to pass judgment on debatable issues--on opinions. He says in verse five "let each man be fully convinced in his own mind." This means that God has given each of us the freedom to look at his word and decide for himself what is true in these areas of debate. You'll notice that we are not obligated to submit to any one particular church and abide by everything it says. To do so is dangerous because if the one particular church (the Roman Catholic Church included) goes bad, then everyone will be forced to believe whatever it teaches. Thus, its members would not be allowed to "be fully convinced in their own mind." Instead, they would be forced to submit to whatever the church tells them to believe and not question it. But, we see in Romans 14 that Paul has provided a protection against this.

" . . . no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,--wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold," (Trent, Session 4, "Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books")

I must ask, which is more authoritative, Trent or Scripture? 

The Roman Catholic Church will tell us that it alone has the right to tell us what the Scriptures mean, but Romans 14:5 does not tell us to submit to an overarching church structure with a "magisterium" that tells us what to believe. It tells us the opposite when it says "let each man be fully convinced in his own mind." Scripture contradicts the Roman Catholic teaching that we cannot "interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church" declares. The Roman Catholic position is dangerous since it prevents people from examining Scripture and being noble-minded by comparing what it says to God's word (Acts 17:11).

Therefore, if we believe what the word of God tells us, then we cannot also believe what the Council of Trent teaches because the Council of Trent says we are not to be fully convinced in our own minds. The Roman Catholic Church contradicts Scripture.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.