Talk:Five solae

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Consolidating[edit]

Hi Philip, welcome to Wikipedia! Your idea of listing the five "Solas" in a separate article seems logical, but you might consider consolidating here information from other articles that already list some or all of the Solas - such as Protestantism and Calvinism. One way to find these references is to go to the two Sola articles (at least, that I'm aware of), Sola fide and Sola scriptura, and use the "What links here" button to see the numerous existing references. Later, Harris7 17:57, 17 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Latin[edit]

Just a note: the first four mottos are generally stated in the ablative case (hence "fide" rather than "fides") and translated as a prepositional phrase starting with "by" or "through." Thus, "Solus Christus" is usually rendered "Solo Christo."

This seems to be a ubiquitous assertion. But the ablative, being the case of moving away, would translate to "from" or "out of" but not "by" or "through", which would be the domain of the instrumental case.--108.110.172.234 (talk) 07:45, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

History[edit]

A little history would be helpful here. When was each of these first propounded? When did each first appear in print? Which denominations believe each? When were they first grouped together? Who named them the five "solas"? - Nunh-huh 04:19, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Solus Christus[edit]

In the page history, AllanBz deleted Flex's mentioning the doctrines of Mary as co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate with this comment: "Flex, you were the one who wanted neutrality. Mary as co-redemptrix is not Catholic doctrine despite many who wish it so."

Flex's response:

Hi, AllanBz. I do want a neutral article, so let's work to that end. I know those doctrines are not official dogma, but they are nonetheless taught and advocated by many Catholics (e.g., MARY: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate). One Catholic website (which was blocked but which I got through the google cache) says, "By the titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, the Roman Catholic Church means that salvation for everyone would be obtained through Mary, and not directly from Jesus Christ. While this is in fact already taught by the Catholic Church, and has been for many years, it is not yet formally defined as binding dogma, though some Catholics feel it has already achieved that status" (emphasis theirs).
Furthermore, another Catholic website explicitly contrasts the doctrine of co-redemptrix with Solus Christus: "If Mary’s coredemptive role raises objections inside the Church, I believe it is because that there has often been an unconscious tendency on the part of Catholics in recent times to accept the fundamental Lutheran dogma of Christus solus without recognizing that Catholic doctrine has always maintained the absolute centrality and primacy of Christ but without denying the necessity of man’s collaborating with him in the work of salvation."
For this reason, I think the doctrines should be contrasted in this article. We can certainly qualify it with something like "which are taught by many in the Catholic Church though they are not official dogmas as of 2005." What do you think? --Flex 12:52, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I like Flex's compromise. I don't believe that Mary is officially co-redemptix in Roman Catholicism, but there are probably some who believe that to be standard doctrine. KHM03 13:10, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
KHM03, "some who believe" does not make Catholic doctrine. While "some" may believe this, the Catholic Church is, unlike the many Protestant faiths, a single entity with a single teaching Magisterium. A few websites—or even a great many websites—that overstate their cases for a particular cause do not necessarily make a significant current within mainline Catholic thought, and certainly do not define doctrine. If it were so, Catholic doctrine would be hip-deep in women priests, condoms, and murdered fetal children. Some of these causes have a larger base of support than the matter at hand and are not doctrinal, nor will ever be. —AllanBz 18:04, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
AllanBz, I know that it is not RC doctrine, and it may never be so. BUT...Scriptural inerrancy (for example) is not official Methodist doctrine, but there are still many Methodists who believe in it...and may actually incorrectly believe it to be the official position of the denomination. By the same token, is it possible that some Roman Catholics believe Mary to be co-redemptrix, regardless of the official position of that denomination? I think it's not only possible...it probably exists. It's an error, sure, but that doesn't make it any less real. Methodists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians...pick a denomination...all have folks who believe in things contrary to official teaching. Isn't that a fair assessment? KHM03 18:32, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Afternoon, Flex. FAQ 6 in the voxpopuli site explicitly states that it is not doctrine, though they spin it as if it were forthcoming. I accept the contrast, but would rather leave the Marian bits out, as I last edited the article; the original Marian phrase overstates the case and, as it is not doctrinal, undermines the veracity of the article. The phrase beginning "...which are taught by many..." is also misleading, because if it is taught outside the Magisterium, it wouldn't be a Catholic teaching, but a personal one, a "tradition of men." (ahem) If the doctrine is ever defined ex cathedra, pop it back in. —AllanBz 18:04, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your response, AllanBz. I agree that Catholic dogma is not created by counting noses, but widespread support can certainly have an effect on the development of Catholic doctrine (cf. the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was much disputed but also quite popular and eventually dogmatized). Also compare the response of Vox Populi to your objection (Objection 5). Can you make an educated guess at how popular the notion is in the church? Are the advocates of Mary as Co-redemptrix quite common, unexceptional, or rare? --Flex 18:25, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Hello all; KHM03 asked me to wade in here and offer some "expert testimony." First, I feel it necessary to say that I am not a specialist in Mariology (mariologist?); I am a scholar of Roman Catholicism. That said, it is incredibly difficult to study the RCC and not run across Mary.
As I understand the current official position of the Church, Mary ''is and is not co-redemptrix. By this I mean, there is no official proclamation that states: "Mary is the co-redemptrix." However, there are many recorded occasions where John Paul II (a Marian devotee if there ever was one) publicly referred to Mary with the phrase "co-redemptrix."
I believe the central problem is that the term co-redemptrix is misunderstood. My understanding is that when JPII used the phrase "co-redemptrix" what he meant was this: Mary was at the Crucifixion, and by an act of faith, she offered up Jesus to be crucified in submission to God's will, and she offers herself up spiritually to be crucified with Jesus. In this way, she "participates" in redemption. No, she did not redeem man; only Jesus redeemed man. "Co-redemption" does not mean she was equally responsible for redemption, that she redeemed man, that she in any way "took away" anything Jesus did. Rather, she is "co-redemptrix" because she performed an "additional" act.
It is a very complex issue, one compounded by each reader's faith background. Each denomination understands the mystery of salvation differently, and each person brings that understanding to the table. Thus, a term like "co-redemptrix" that makes sense to Catholics, based on their background, is foreign to a non-Catholic. (It's often also foreign to Catholics, as all Catholics do not have an extensive history of doctrinal education.) I have developed an illustration that I think makes the point, but I believe it may be offensive to some. I present it here, and I offer my profuse apologies to anyone who is offended.
Replace the crucifixion with an assasination (let's say Jesus assasinates "Death"), and replace the term "co-redemptrix" with "co-conspiritor." Jesus is the main assasin, He actually shoots Death. He doesn't come up with the plan, God does (so He's a co-conspirator too, as mastermind). However, Jesus is the One who buys the gun, loads it, and pulls the trigger. Mary's role is this: She stands at Jesus' side, hands Him stuff, and cheers Him on. She doesn't have to; Jesus can kill death all by Himself, without any help, but Mary voluntarily choses to be an accessory. She's a co-conspirator, not because she actually killed Death, but because she was there and she took part in the overall activity.
Hence, Mary is co-redemptrix not because she actually redeemed man, but because she was there when Jesus redeemed man, she consented to it in an act of submission to the Will of God, and she voluntarily offered herself up (spiritually) to be crucified with Him. Her participation is her submission.
I hope this helps clear up the confusion. Within the context of this article, I think it is advisable to leave "co-redemptrix" out of the mix for two reasons: 1) Co-redemptrix has not been promulgated as an official doctrine, by which I mean that the Pope has never put on the pointy hat and said "Attention all Catholics! This is an ex cathedra pronouncement: Mary is the co-redemptrix." nor has there been an official publication (with a nice Latin name that nobody can pronounce) on the subject of Mary's co-redemptrix-ness; and 2) the term "co-redemptrix" is inherrently confusing and will not be understood by the vast majority of readers of any faith. If included in this article, the term will be misunderstood, and the reader will be misinformed. (We want to inform the reader, not misinform them!) However, I think an article titled "co-redemptrix" is in order; perhaps the contributors here could collaborate on such an article, and then the reference could be added to this article with a bluelink to "Co-redemptrix" so readers will not be misinformed.
I cannot speak to the popularity of the notion in the Church; I'm not Catholic, I just study Catholicism. (I know, all this Catholicism stuffed in my head, and I'm not even one of 'em!) Essjay (talk) 00:39, Jun 11, 2005 (UTC)
  • Sorry, one other issue I needed to address: AllanBz is right about the issue of doctrine. RCC doctrine is often influenced by what the people believe (as was the case with the doctrine of the Assumption) but it is never actually doctrine until the Church says it is. There is actually a special phrase to cover such a "grassroots" doctrine: Sensus fidelium or “consensus of the faithful.” However, even if every Catholic signs off that he/she believes a sensus fidelium belief, it's still not Catholic doctrine. (Although, you might argue such event would count as an ecumenical council, which would make it doctrine.) As I noted above, doctrine is made by the Pope speaking ex cathedra, or by the promulgation of an official document (encyclical, constitution, bull, etc.) that effectively says "This is official doctrine." Honestly, it really is a fine distinction; doctrine is doctrine when the people in power say "this is doctrine." Until that time, anyone from the Pope on down can speak of it (as in the case of JPII using "co-redemptrix") without it actually being doctrine, as long as he (the pope) doesn't say "this is doctrine." Certainly, individuals may privately believe what they wish, however, if they publicly dissent from Church teaching, they become heretics. On this particular issue, it isn't so much that believing Mary is co-redemptrix is against the official Church teaching, but rather, there just isn't an official Church teaching on the matter. It would be incorrect to state the matter as though the Church accepts the belief. A statement to the effect of "While the Church has never officially stated that Mary is co-redemptrix, many Catholics mantain this belief" would be factual. Essjay (talk) 00:48, Jun 11, 2005 (UTC)
  • One other point on this matter. It is pretty much irrelevant what *current* Catholics think about Mary's position, and whether or not what they think is backed by their Church's official stance *today*, since this article is about the state of play at and around the Reformation. I have yet to see any evidence that what Luther or Calvin etc were about involved any kind of view on Mary and her position vis-a-vis salvation. This whole "Soli Deo gloria" thing is a thoroughly modern invention as far as I can see, and I'm not too sure the "Solo Christo" isn't also a modern bolt-on to the original *three* solae. I've commented as much further down this page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2605:6000:F340:A500:3DAB:385:ABB7:DAE4 (talk) 21:18, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

well done[edit]

"Faith yields justification and good works" and is contrasted with the Catholic formula "Faith and good works yield justification."

A very tidy summation, which I think will stand scrutiny. Mkmcconn (Talk) 14:43, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Historical context[edit]

I added a "section" with an attempt at providing a little historical context. It seemed to me like a little something like this was needed in addition to just listing the Five Solas. But I consider this up for discussion or improvements. Regards, Jim Ellis 15:56, Jun 24, 2005 (UTC)

Isn't this whole passage conjectural? → ( AllanBz  ) 22:03, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Allan, in retrospect, I think you are right. Except for the first paragraph it is conjectural. Therefore I am going to delete it for now as I try to do a little more research. I just haven't been able to find much. Regards, Jim Ellis 16:19, Jun 25, 2005 (UTC)
I keep checking back on this article, fantasizing that someone has done this research :) There's no doubt this a common summation of Reformation thinking, but I'm clueless as to who first articulated it this way.```` — Preceding unsigned comment added by Superninjaspy (talkcontribs) 19:20, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Need for imput from Calvinist and other Protestant traditions[edit]

I would welcome interested editors from the Calvinist, Reformed, and other Protestant traditions to weigh in with their own interpretation of these five solas. The Lutheran position should not be presented as the only POV although I have striven to make statements on the Lutheran position NPOV. We may find that we have more unanimity than we may have thought. It may be helpful for Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox editors to correct any misrepresentation of their doctrine. Classical Thomist Roman Catholic doctrine holds to the sola gratia.--Drboisclair 20:41, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

This line "This doctrine asserts divine monergism in salvation: God acts alone to save the sinner. The responsibility for salvation does not rest on the sinner to any degree as in "synergism" or Arminianism ". Strikes me as biased. Arminians claim the 5 solas. jbolden1517Talk 03:03, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Sola ecclesia and Sola caritas[edit]

Certain Anglican scholars have suggested that there should be two additional solas on the list : Sola ecclesia and Sola caritas. It might be a good idea if appropriate information were added about these two other proposed solas. [1][2][3] ADM (talk) 05:01, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

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Not sure if this gets too much into the substance of the debate re: whether to include them, but ...
  • Re: sola ecclesia, assuming that's a reference to extra ecclesia nulla salus ("no safety outside the Church"), as a paraphrase it isn't all that accurate: Even if membership in the [universal Christian] Church is the only temporal guarantee of salvation and hence the only earthly guarantee of the "safety" of one's soul, that doesn't mean that salvation is denied to everyone else or that salvation is available only through the Church -- even the RC Catechism states that God in His infinite mercy is capable of "saving" non-Christians and admitting their souls to heaven.
  • Re: sola caritas, although "the greatest of these [three virtues of faith, hope, and love] is love", that doesn't mean it's the only virtue. Likewise, although (according to Jesus) the greatest commandment is "You shall love the LORD your God with..." and the second[-greatest] is "You shall love your neighbor...", that doesn't mean that they're the only two commandments.
165.176.7.3 (talk) 00:53, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
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Grammar re: "Soli Deo gloria"?[edit]

Would someone mind explaining the Latin grammar behind "Soli Deo gloria"? I've seen it cast that way a significant majority of the time, but the genitive/(dative/ablative)/(nominative/ablative) construction doesn't make very much sense.

It seems as if one of the following would be more appropriate:

  • "Solae Dei gloriae" (dative/genitive/dative: "to only the glory of God")
  • "Soli Dei gloriae" (genitive/genitive/dative: "to the glory of only God")
  • "Solo Deo gloria" (dative/dative/nominative: "to only God glory", i.e., "to God alone [be the] glory" or "glory [be] to God alone")

Does anyone know 1) which case "Deo" is in (dative or ablative), 2) which case "gloria" is in (nominative or ablative), and/or 3) what phrasing makes these noun endings make sense?

Thanks! 72.218.206.109 (talk) 16:30, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Soli (DAT) Deo (DAT) gloria (NOM) — ‘glory only to God’. Apart from gods not existing, it makes perfect sense! — Chameleon 06:28, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I disagree. As you correctly point out, "soli Deo" is the dative object. Thus, the translation ought to be "to the only God" or "to the sole God". The current translation in the article, using "alone" as a focusing adverb, "Glory to God alone" is not based on the Latin grammar. Whether it is interpreted in that sense is another matter and depends a lot on what "glory" means. The literal translation of the Latin text can only be "Glory to the only God." The phrase "glory to God alone", using "alone" as an adverb, would be "solum Deo gloria." -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 11:53, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Soli Deo Gloria is meant to mean "glory to God alone", not "glory to the only God" which is a very different meaning. This would fit perfectly with Luther's other solas: "scripture alone", "faith alone", "grace alone" and "Christ alone". Another way of expressing it is "Only to God be the glory" (and "only from scripture", "only by faith", "only by grace" and "only through Christ"). "Glory to the only God" would have been no change for the Reformers - even the Israelites believed that! Perhaps they got the grammar wrong - the important thing is to get the meaning right, not necessarily the most literal translation. HTH. --Bermicourt (talk) 16:24, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Luther's Three Solas[edit]

The idea of Luther having Three (Faith, Grace, Scripture) instead of Five Solas is a pretty common one. Why is there no mention of this, or pointing it out as a common misconception if it is a misconception (I personally don't know as some sources I see say 3, others 5, I came to this article to find out and there's nothing on this)?Flygongengar (talk) 06:17, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

I have to agree with the above. In fact, the title of this article is really rather misleading. As the article itself admits, the notion of *five* solae is a 20th century one. I doubt any serious scholar of the subject would dispute that only three positions were being made clear in and just after Luther. For example, in Chapter 23, ("Luther: Law and Gospel") of "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition", Professor Phillip Cary (http://www.thegreatcourses.com/professors/phillip-cary/) mentions only three solae. To satisfy NPOV, the article should really be renamed as Three solae, but, sure, with reference made to the two additional (more recently recognized) principles. That's probably too much to ask for, but at very least this three vs five distinction should be clearer. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.112.147.196 (talk) 20:46, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Criticism[edit]

I several times tried to add a criticism section based on the book "Rome, sweet home". It was not completed, I recognize. But instead of being improved in its style, it has been systematically eliminated (cf. 17 and 22 July). I am worried about the way Wikipedia is censored. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 78.250.122.172 (talk) 07:29, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

You need to provide reliable sources for your assertions. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 08:16, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Rome, sweet home is not a scholarly source. Even though it is written by a well respected scholar, it is a popular level biographical account... There are plenty of Catholic scholarly works that can be quoted for your critique ReformedArsenal (talk) 00:23, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
I believe if used sparingly, it could qualify as a reliable source because of the pre-eminence of Scott Hahn in modern Catholic biblical theology. It's kind of like getting the edited journal of Raymond Brown; it's not notable at first sight, but, as long as the claims are not extraordinary (I forget the WP:LINK to "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"), the tall stature of the authors and their reputations for solidly scholarly works is enough to "reliable-ize" the sources as long as they deal with the field in which the author is eminent (i.e. Teilhard on paleontology = kind of reliable, Teilhard on theology = not reliable except in the context of Teilhardism, or St Augustine on the nature of time = use with caution; St Augustine on the nature of grace = use freely; Catechism of the Catholic Church = reliable for Catholic doctrine; CCC = not reliable for evolutionary theory; Linus Pauling = reliable for chemistry, not for medicine, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum et alii).

Many people will not, or are not equipped to, read scholarly and dry writing (although I love it): the "doctrinal sections" of a book such as "Rome Sweet Home" (I have not read it) are likely popularizations, written in a more-accessible manner, of his scholarly work; the doctrinal statements he makes, as long as they are par for the course ("not extraordinary") are going to be reliable, and, if WP:ATT, can be checked to ensure such. Of course, there are levels of reliability; "Rome Sweet Home" could be over-ruled by Calvin's Institutes, the Catholic Catechism, or other of Scott Hahn's works. But, face it: there are very few direct and lucid comparisons of Catholic to Protestant doctrine that would pass muster as a scholarly RS: that won't stop me from using "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" if nothing else is available. Take your cue here from some articles on basic physics, were popular science books are cited, or, on articles on evolution, where Scientific American is cited: there are undoubtedly better sources that are readily available (which there may not be for this issue), but the sources provided are good enough, because not everything can be Aristotle East and West, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, or Orthodox Readings of Aquinas. I urge a reinstatement of the deleted section after it has been checked for accuracy and edited to conform to Wikipedia's MOS, using Wiki-voice where appropriate, etc. St John Chrysostom Δόξατω Θεώ 10:37, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Attention from an Expert[edit]

I'm an expert in the history of dogma as an historical theologian (at least by Wikipedia's standards, no slight intended - I am a Wikipedian, after all - as I'm not a professor or doctor, but I'm published and have an STB, but regardless of WP:CRED, I have a library of references and vast knowledge here), and, although the Reformation is not my strongest area (the high middle ages and scholasticism is), I will give attention to a rewrite of this article. Since the article has been tagged for months, it seems no greater expert - and there are undoubtedly many, and probably many Wikipedians counted amongst them - will come along.

Before beginning, I would like to solicit suggestions about what is wrong, and what should be done about it, while adding that, at the present time, in addition to what the article is tagged for, there is a strong and explicit Protestant, and a more mild Calvinist (yes, one can be biased in favor of Protestantism in general and against Lutheran and other magisterial reformation understanding) perspective and bias to this article, which I will rectify. The article is small and manageable enough a full rewrite is doable, and is likely in order: I do not desire to merely add Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Thomist, and Molinist responses, but to discuss the entire thing in the light of NPOV.

An example of this is the statement in the lead that "the five solas militate against Catholicism", where Catholics agree, without condition, on sola gratia (salvation is through grace alone) and solus Christus (only Christ can save), and, with a change in emphasis, sola fide ("faith without works is dead", but, equally, one without faith can not be saved, and faith is the found of all good works, and good works done by those not in a state of grace are sinful, cf. Augustine), and soli Deo gloria (latria to God alone, but dulia or veneration to the Mother of God foremost, and saints secondarily; neither is given to any living man, but the hierarchy is respected) - the only one that militates against Catholic teaching is sola Scriptura, where Scripture is seen as independent of Tradition. For example, the Catholic views are mainly three: that Scripture is a part of Tradition, that Scripture and Tradition are equal, or that Scripture is superior to Tradition: the latter of which is nearly identical to most Protestant understandings, as Calvinism, Arminianism, the Hypostatic Union, Trinitarianism, the Hymnal, Orders of Worship, types of hermeneutics, etc. are all examples of tradition (the "norma normata", or "the norm that is normed"), but which, in Protestantism, are subservient to Scripture (the "norma normans", the "norming norm")

This is already becoming "tl;dr", so I will not here put how I believe historical background and a more balanced and well-sourced explication of the solae will improve the article immensely. St John Chrysostom Δόξατω Θεώ 16:09, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for your attention! Personnally I'm trying to find where from these preposterous and ridiculous "solae" have originated. There's no source for such an absurd and ninny-headed formulation such as:
Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God, is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all—that is, it is perspicuous and self-interpreting. [my understrike, how the h*ck does a text interpret itself?!!]
It's certainly not a main stream Lutheran opinion, and examining the sources for this article, I get some suspicion that some fundamentalist have invented them to put a heavy burden on the back for ordinary Lutherans (and Catholics, and other Christians). Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 06:11, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
@Rursus: That's a fairly severe charge against what I would regard as a fairly conservative article on a mainstream topic! You say examining the sources for this article... There are currently [4] eight citations and five references, but at the time you wrote the above there were only one and five, [5] respectively.
Have the edits since you last wrote answered your concerns? If so, can we remove the expert-subject tag?
Happy to discuss personal opinions with you on this topic, offline (email me perhaps), but here of course we just follow and cite our sources, which don't (with rare and precious exceptions) include ourselves. (;-> Andrewa (talk) 19:07, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
@Andrewa: 1. pardon for my pungent language, I've not learnt the proper ecumenical tone yet, but I'm currently (06:11, 20 May 2014 (UTC)) doing my best, realizing my sharp corners unnecessarily hurts peoples' feelings, 2. the five solae don't occur in the small cathecism, which can be regarded as a normative work of the larger lutheran movement, so therefore I still doubt the generality of the five solae among lutherans, 3. therefore i vindicate keep the expert attention label, 4. I didn't place it in this article, which implies I'm not the first to doubt, only the most flagwavingly verbose.
I'm going to make some survey about the occurrence, which mayhap contribute to resolve the question (but I'm no expert). Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 06:11, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Some early notes: lutheran sources mentions three solae, not five, and not as a quintuple. The sources support the occurence of notions termed "solae", but not those of the article, which I esteem to be an editor interpretation (WP:SYNTH an illicit Synthesis of published material that advances a position), not a factual statement. L8R.... Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 06:24, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure how you reach the conclusion that this is WP:SYNTH, but happy for you to explain it. The solae are well-attested in the literature as being the five principles that characterised Reformation theology, although I would agree that some of the detail might need working (along with their separate articles). For example, there was a difference in the application of sola scriptura between the mainline, or magisterial, reformers, who accepted the idea of a traditional interpretation of Scripture, provided it could be justified, and some of the radical reformers who rejected e.g. the Trinity and divinity of Christ. --Bermicourt (talk) 20:21, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Page Move Proposal -- Pre-formal-move-proposal[edit]

(Moving this down from page top, to co-locate it with the formal move-proposal -- next section. Please don't add anything to this section; instead, add to the actual discussion below.)

I propose this page be renamed (moved) to reflect the fact that it is actually about the original Three reformation solae, with the additional two (plus others) being modern additions. I already attempted the move but it was reverted as being undiscussed. Fair enough; lets discuss.

First I'll note that the reversion has done more than rename. The opening statement now reads: "The Five solae or five solas are a set of principles held by theologians and churchmen[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] to be central to the Protestant Reformation", with the note about the 20th Century augmentation being deleted. Unfortunately that statement is now simply factually incorrect as evidenced by the list of citations that the reverter left in place. I doubt you could find *any* theologian or churchman of any learning who would claim that central to the Protestant Reformation were *five* solae. Whether modern Protestants feel that in fact there are more differences between their modern view and the views of the modern RC church is irrelevant. This article is about the Protestant Reformation concepts.

Overall then, the reason I think the move is merited is that there are essentially two different concepts at play. One is the set of (three) solae that pertain to the Protestant Reformation. The second is additional modern solae (popularly two, but sometimes more) that were added to that list in the 20th century but which few if any Reformation scholars would accept were part of the dynamic of the historical set of events collectively known as the Reformation.

So I think there are two options. One is to have two pages. The first would describe the established historical facts -- i.e. three solae *of the Reformation*. The second would refer to the 20th century augmentation of that list of three -- typically two solae that had nothing to do with Luther, Calvin, or anyone else back then. But I'm pretty sure that two such pages would reasonably lead to calls for a merge.

So the second option is to have a single page handling both concepts. But it seems to me that for historical accuracy, it should have the three Reformation solae front and center, and the two 20th-Century solae as additional commentary. That in fact is how the page looked even prior to my move and edits. The only problem then was the title -- the article clearly was about the three solae, but was named for five. Hence my move. Thomask0 (talk) 00:39, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

One other point. The reason given for reverting the earlier move was that "'Five solae' is by far the most common designation". It would be hard to prove that either way, but a quick Google search of "five solas" and "three solas" shows roughly twice as many hits for the latter. Thomask0 (talk) 00:48, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

I think it would be better if you followed the procedure at Wikipedia:Requested moves. StAnselm (talk) 00:57, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

The procedure suggests that even contested moves can at least in the first instance be discussed on the Talk page. No point in escalating if we can discuss and agree here, no? Thomask0 (talk) 01:58, 22 December 2014 (UTC)


There's a danger of an edit war here, so I'm not going to revert TW's reversion of my reversion of ... etc until we thrash out the issues. But let's discuss the point in hand. As TM said: "saying "it is held to be central to the Reformation" doesn't mean it dates from the Reformation". That's true. It could indeed be pointing to the fact that *modern* Protestants *now* hold that there were five issues of concern, but it remains the case that the Reformation itself has historically seen to be based on only three. So we have two facts (undisputed I assume). First, there were three solae behind the reformation; second, some modern Protestants now think there were two more. Nevertheless, the article needs to reflect *both* facts, else we need two articles. Removing the phrase about the extra two being 20th Century additions is depriving the reader of valuable information -- namely that first there were three, and then (and, crucially, *only recently*) there were five. Thomask0 (talk) 02:13, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

I'd certainly contest your first "fact": Solus Christus was the "first and chief article of Luther's personal faith".[6] StAnselm (talk) 02:41, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Contrary to Bruner, Luther did not use the phrase "solus Christos" in Smalcald. Bruner is *inferring* that phrase from the series of NT quotes provided by Luther. Now it is certainly arguable -- I'd say probable -- that Luther held to the *belief* denoted by "sola Christos", but there's no evidence that he considered it to be the same kind of theological "tagline" that the three solae were. And consider: if my initial alleged fact -- that at and shortly after the Reformation, there were three not five solae -- is incorrect, then so is much of the scholarly commentary since the reformation. For about 450 of the 500 years since then, the notion has been clearly of three solae. Only in the 20th century did the other two get pinned on. So if I'm wrong, so is the bulk of Christian theologians and churchmen. Are they wrong? Is Engleder wrong in 1916? Was the Lutheran Synod wrong in the 1990s? Is Phillip Carey at Eastern wrong? Remember the argument I'm making. It's not there is no such thing as "Five Solae". Rather it is that we have two concepts to handle -- the Three, and the Five. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thomask0 (talkcontribs) 07:17, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
But the three solae are a 20th-century construct as well... StAnselm (talk) 08:31, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
You may be right about that. Using the (not exactly definitive) Google Ngram I can find no references to either formulation prior to the 1900's. But it still leaves open the question -- how many solae belong on the list a) for the Reformation itself, and b) for moderns. The best answer is likely to come from the relevant scholars, but I doubt many, if any of the people interested in this page qualify. As a second best then, I went into a local used bookstore with a good selection of new and old religion books. I grabbed about ten of the books discussing either the history of Christianity in general, or the Reformation specifically and checked the index for each. The phrase "Five solas" (or "solae") was mentioned in *none*. However, neither was the phrase "Three solas" (or "solae"). Further, and probably most telling, the simple word "sola" appeared in only one of the books (as "sola fide"). And I just checked my copy of McGrath's "Historical Theology" and it has only "sola scriptura" in the index. So neither "Five solas" nor "Three solas" has been making its way into published books. One possible conclusion is that we have here, in Wikipedia's "N Solae", is simply a non-concept. I'm guessing that if you asked a Reformation scholar about how many solae there were, he or she would reply something like "Well usually we speak of three, but it's not that simple." So I propose that a page name change is still required, but not to "Three solae". Rather, the title should simply be "Reformation solae", and we can then let the article itself tell the tale of how what was three became five and could even be seven. Would that work? Thomask0 (talk) 18:58, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Don't want to let this die off without a decision either way. As I see it, there are three plausible options: keep the page as-is -- i.e. Five solas; change it to Three solas; or remove the number entirely, making it something like "Reformation solas". Comparing the first two then, I'd argue that if we're going to have a number, it needs to be "Three". Of the references on the page that give a number, the largest is to "three", not "five" (or "seven). Also, unscientific as it is, Google searches show that the "three version" is roughly twice as common as the "five" version. "Three solas" gives over 0.5 million results, whereas "Five solas" gives under 0.25 million. "Three solae" and "Five solae" are much closer (and much less, with Google suggesting in each that perhaps the searcher meant "solas" and not "solae"), but Three is still the greater. Looking instead at "Reformation solas", and thereby removing the number from the title, I see pros and cons. On the pro side, I think it would be using the full strength of Wikipedia to reflect, in a way that something like Britannica just cannot do, the development of the topic over time. Clearly today, even though "three" is still more commonly used, "five" clearly is used a lot. And for all we know, "seven" could become the preferred. By removing the number in the name, the article itself can then speak to the details of the change, without having any specific number reified by being part of the title. On the con side though, I see two objections. First, what I've just described sounds a bit like original research. The second is related, namely that I imagine if we were to get actual Reformation scholars to contribute, we would find that most if not all would say that "three" is The Number.

Summary, I'd rank the options as follows (most preferred first):

  1. Three solas
  2. Reformation solas
  3. Five solas (i.e. no change)

Comments? Thomask0 (talk) 18:07, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Once again, these is the sort of discussion that would be better within a formal move proposal. StAnselm (talk) 20:53, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
And, once again, the first part of the formal move proposal *is* precisely the Talk-page-based discussion I am trying to encourage here. If no one is willing to discuss here then of course I'll escalate to the next stage. But be clear that this discussion Just Is the first step in the formally described process.Thomask0 (talk) 06:34, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

Requested move 31 December 2014[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. There doesn't appear to be any consensus for where to move the article, although there does appear to be general agreement that it should be moved. I suggest having a discussion about the best alternative title, then having a second RM on the one decided as being the best way forward. Number 57 23:41, 6 February 2015 (UTC)



Five solaeThree solae – The article text (other than the recently edited opening sentence) is written first as a description of the original three solas, with the other (2 or 4) solas described as additions. The bulk of references that refer to any number, refer to three, not five. Overall, the title most appropriate to the current text, should mention "three", not "five". The only sensible alternative to a rename is to rewrite the article (including removing a large proportion of the citations) to suit the current title. Google Ngram gives no hits for "five solas", but gives several for "three solas", dating back to 1865. --Relisted. Andrewa (talk) 16:36, 10 January 2015 (UTC) Thomask0 (talk) 20:42, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

  • Comment: In Google Books (which is a more reliable indicator), "Five solas" gets 1050 hits, and "three solas" gets only 295. I wonder if "three" is the Lutheran number and "five" the Reformed number? What was the result from 1865? StAnselm (talk) 20:50, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment: OK, I've dug a little into the Google search stuff and here's what it threw up:
Web Search Books Ngram
"Three solas" 2,940 295 no hits
"Five solas" 57,400 1,120 no hits
"Three solae" 527 25 no hits
"Five solae" 5,400 299 no hits
Three solas 522,000 26,100 several hits
Five solas 234,000 15,100 no hits
Three solae 56,800 2,470 no hits
Five solae 42,000 2010 no hits

It's clear that quoting the phrase in question gives very different results from not quoting. It's hard to know which to give greater credence to, but I suspect it has to be the quoted versions (unquoted 'three solas' for example is throwing up a bunch of stuff about utterly different subjects). So based purely on the above results, I think my move proposal loses some strength. My inclination is (not least because it seems that you, StAnselm, and I are the only ones bothering about this) to withdraw the move proposal and leave things as they are. I think the only other route is to get some actual reformation scholars to voice an opinion. I still have a strong hunch that they'd tell us the "three" formulation is the more correct, but we can't base things on my hunch. Thoughts? Thomask0 (talk) 21:00, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

FYI, you'd asked about the 1865 Ngram result. My mistake; it was 1752. It was "The Marrow of Modern Divinity" by Edward Fisher. But there's no preview to let us see how he used the phrase, so this may be a red herring. Thomask0 (talk) 21:05, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I was hoping for a few more participants with the RM. You could drop a note at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Christianity/Noticeboard. At the moment, looking at those figures, I am leaning towards a move to Five solas. And I think the Latin plural is going to be used less and less in the future. The Marrow is available online, of course, but I can't find the phrase in the book. StAnselm (talk) 07:01, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Comment: Yes, after I'd made my comment, I also found a copy on Google Books. and there's no sign of "three solas" in there. I don't know what Ngram was havering about.Thomask0 (talk) 17:43, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. The three is still the most notable list, and despite relatively recent attempts to raise these others to the same status they just don't make it either historically or in current theology. The three matches the current article content and should continue to do so. Andrewa (talk) 21:35, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
    • PS Prefer three solas, that's the term I've always heard, but not as important as the number. Andrewa (talk) 21:04, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: Thanks for chiming in, Andrewa. Obviously I agree with you, but the structure of the article as it stands -- i.e. with the Three being mentioned as an entity first, followed by the potential 2 to 4 additions -- was done by me, along with the listing of references pointing to three solas. So I don't think it would be fair (of me) to then use that structure as evidence in support of a move. In fact one of my primary arguments for the move in the first place was that I saw the two additional solos as being 20th Century artifacts, but as StAnselm points out, the whole idea of drawing out the solos *at all* as a list of a particular number of entities is also a 20th Century artifact. So from that point of view, "five" is as correct as "three". So the question is, is there anything *more* than the current structure that would support a move to "three". One potential area -- current usage as evidenced by various search engine results -- actually works *against* a move, because these days "five" seems more commonly used than "three". Of course that doesn't make "five" correct, but neither does it provide support for "three". Do you have any source we could consider as evidence for the notability of "three" versus "five"? Thomask0 (talk) 17:13, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Not to hand. I see your point about the current state of the article as a reason for a move, but think I can validly give it as a reason. Andrewa (talk) 21:04, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: Incidentally, it might be informative to explain why I began this discussion in the first place. It was because I'd just finished listening to the Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition "Great Course" by Phillip Cary from Eastern University. In that course (referenced on this Article's page), Cary talks only of three solos. I then came to Wikipedia to find out more and found to my surprise that the number here was five, not three. As I dug around, it seemed to me that the "weightier" references available on the web pointed to three, not five. But that's hardly conclusive. I wonder if there's any point in me contacting Cary for an opinion. Would we take his view as being definitive for the purposes of this move proposal, or would we have to poll a number of academics? Thomask0 (talk) 17:27, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Neither... the poll would be original research. What would be best, as you have identified, is reliable sources that mention the three solas as such. Ideally I think we'd then end up with a redirect from five solae and five solas to the appropriate sections of the article. Or if this article gets too big, we might split it and have a separate article on the five, referring back to this one of course with a main link from a short section on the three. But back on the issue of evidence, authorities might be able to provide us with these refs, even ones that they have personally written, there is no problem there. Or they might even be interested in putting up a short page on their personal pages on their academic institutions' official websites. We can then cite those websites. Andrewa (talk) 21:04, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, lots of experts have written about the five solas, such as Michael Horton[7] and James Montgomery Boice[8]. The book After Darkness, Light (a festschrift for R. C. Sproul) has chapters on the five solas (as can be seen on the table of contents page, available on Amazon), but very confusingly, the Google Books page says "A primer on Calvinism's five points and the Reformation's four solas". Again, it might be that the Lutherans prefer 3 and the Reformed prefer 5, which suggests having Reformation solas. StAnselm (talk) 21:24, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: StAnselm, do you mean "Reformation solas" *instead* of "five" or "three", or are you saying we need another page? I'd suggest the former (i.e. we stick with a single page, named "Reformation solas"). FWIW, I emailed Dr Cary and he came back very quickly with an opinion. In fact it's precisely to use "Reformation solas", thereby avoiding a titling problem. He says that the article's current structure -- Three solas as a section, followed by another with the two additionals -- looks good. He did however mention that it may be necessary to drop the proposed 6th and 7th solas. I'm not sure we have to though, if we perhaps separated those out on their own. In other words, the structure would look something like this:
    • Opening -- pretty much as-is, but talking only about "the solas" (i.e. no number), being a set of principles yada yada
    • History -- as-is
    • Three solas -- as-is
    • Five solas -- descriptions of Solus Christus and Soli Deo gloria
    • Additional solas -- where we can preserve the reference to 6 and 7
    • etc

Would that work? Concerning your comment about perhaps there being a different number for Lutheran vs Reformed, I couldn't say. Sounds like we'd maybe be verging on original research there, no?Thomask0 (talk) 03:28, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

It's certainly original research - I was trying to make sense of the data. Maybe I will an article on the topic some day. StAnselm (talk) 04:39, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: Also, Dr Cary did offer some guidelines as to whether to use "solae" or "solas", but I suggest we finish the primary discussion first, and then we can figure that secondary item out quickly.Thomask0 (talk) 03:28, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Move to Reformation solas per above discussion. StAnselm (talk) 04:39, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
That would be an improvement on the current title in at least two ways. Relisting to allow this and perhaps other alternative proposals a fair hearing. Andrewa (talk) 16:36, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
  • OK, I've had a go at the restructure, without actually doing the move. There actually wasn't a lot to do, but please check and change as needed. I've left an "under construction" tag in place for now. If we're happy (modulo Andrewa's alternative proposal), then I can make the move. And would we all agree that we should ditch the "The Five Solae of the Protestant Reformation" box at the top right (I think that comes from a template)?Thomask0 (talk) 18:41, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I definitely think we should keep the template; but it was I who made it. StAnselm (talk) 20:21, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I'd say it was a neither or both situation. For me the essential point here is that no specific number should be being reified. In other words, "three-ness" and "five-ness" is not something to be highlighted (although clearly both get discussed in the article). If we agree on that then I'd say leaving the box in place while changing the title would be inconsistent. I suppose another option could be to keep the box but remove the number from its title too. So the five would still be listed, but we'd not draw too much attention to the "five-ness". But honestly I think we're then fiddling in the face of the simple fact that we as amateurs (well, I am anyway) haven't got a sufficiently rigorous position in the first place. After all, why were there first three and then five? Did the earlier scholars like Engelder just miss the extra two and then after more work was done did more recent writers realize that those two had been overlooked? Or was three "correct" and in which case are the additional two merely modern views of modern Protestant vs RC differences? Would Luther and Calvin have agreed with or been confused at the notion that Solus Christus and Soli Deo gloria were in opposition to 16th Century Catholicism? Short answer is, I don't know. So I'd say we either keep the box but then leave the title as-is, and; or we change the title and lose the box.Thomask0 (talk) 20:57, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
And I totally disagree. The box is there for ease of navigation, and obviously it will go for the larger number since it will link to all the articles involved. But there is no reason why the heading in the box can't be "Solas of the Reformation" or something like that. StAnselm (talk) 21:01, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
OK, we're obviously not just as close to concluding as I'd thought :-) First, navigation itself is surely not a valid reason here; many WP articles of far greater complexity than this one achieve ease of navigation in the usual way, via the Contents table. Surely the fundamental issue at stake is, rather, the extent to which it is worth elevating some number -- three, five and so on -- in the mind of the reader, either via the article title, a table such as yours, or any other highlighting method. By highlighting any number we are saying that number -- not less, not more -- is in some way significant. The fact is there are, for example, *four* laws of thermodynamics; the "four" is almost as important as the laws themselves. If asked in an exam to list the laws, you'll lose marks for offering 3 or 5. Something similar is at play here. Now quoting Cary: "[The] 3 sola's ... have been a standard and very familiar interpretation of Reformation theology for a long time." Admittedly that was in the context of how/if to handle the 6th and 7th solas, but the point is he quotes 3 and not 5 as being a standard. So *if* we are going to highlight a number, I'd propose it's 3. All that said, I think our discussions to date make it entirely reasonable that we simply do not raise *any* number in focus, which is why while I personally think it is second best, moving to "Reformation solas" is fair enough. But keeping the box of five is making a statement about number, even if the box title changes, and that's not in line with what (I thought) we were converging on. After all, if we retain the box, why have five items in there. Why not three, or seven?Thomask0 (talk) 23:20, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
It's interesting that you mention thermodynamics - the article name (Laws of thermodynamics) doesn't mention the number, and nor does the relevant template. I think you're over-relying on Cary, of course - I have cited other authorities who say the number is five. But in regards to the template, the answer is easy - five is listing all the relevant articles. If we listed three, it would be incomplete; and the sixth and seventh articles don't exist yet. (Though I'd question their inclusion on other grounds, perhaps.) Hence, we list five. StAnselm (talk) 04:54, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
StAnselm, I think I'll bow out at this point. I thought we were approaching a consensus, but it seems not. I think we remain fundamentally at odds not on the table per se, but on the message we believe this encyclopedia article should convey. My position is, as Andrewa also asserted, that the most widely accepted summary of the core of the Reformation is captured by three concepts, not five and that we either respect the notability of "three", or we avoid reifying either number, and allow the reader to decide for himself based on the content. I think your desire to retain your table (of five) leaves the article in a sub-optimal state in that respect but I think we just have to agree to disagree on that. However, overall I suspect I care quite a bit less about this topic than you do, so I'll defer to you. I hope the discussion has been useful regardless of the outcome. Before you decide on how to conclude, I do recommend you consider reverting the entire article back to its state as of 19:37, 27 October 2014‎ , which is the point just before I got involved. That would return you to a consistent "five solas" position, with only occasional in-text references to "three" and with a reduced citation list, removing several of the references to the "three" formulation. Of course my view is that from an accuracy point of view, that would be a thoroughly regressive step, and would leave the article fundamentally at odds with Reformation scholarship, however it would at least have the merit of maintaining consistency. It would also mean there would be no need to hunt through related articles (e.g. Sola scriptura) to change references to "five solas" to "Reformation solas". Finally, AFAIK, the fact that I initiated the move request doesn't block any other user-in-good-standing to close it off, so I'll leave that with you. Best wishes.Thomask0 (talk) 06:08, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
This looks to be a bit of a real problem, in that there are seemingly two different versions of the solae, the Lutheran and the Calvinist. Understandably, individuals from one church or the other would be most familiar with the version in their individual church. I see that the Encyclopedia of Christianity, as per Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity/Encyclopedic articles, seems to use maybe the term Reformation principles as the title of their article dealing with this basic subject. That being the case, either that title or "Reformation solas"/"Reformation solae" might be best option, as they avoid the issue of the numbers involved. John Carter (talk) 18:24, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Alternative proposals[edit]

How about just sola as the article title? We would need to make a case for primary meaning of course. However the Norwegian municipality seems most unlikely to be the primary meaning if there is one, so there's room for improvement there as well, either way. This would also solve the problem of competing plural forms and fit WP:plural well. Andrewa (talk) 16:45, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Getting consistency on plurality would be good, but then why not "Reformation sola"? I'm not sure we could argue credibly that the word "sola" on its own actually does refer to the Reformation sola. Once again using the wildly unscientific "How many search hits does it give" method, I did a duckduckgo.com search (avoiding Google because my search results would be heavily contaminated by the fact that I'm actively working on this Reformation stuff). "solas" throws up a Reformation hit as result 25 (it's our very own WP page), whereas I stopped counting at result 60 for "sola" having not seen anything Reformation related.Thomask0 (talk) 18:41, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Incidentally, here's what Phil Cary said about this. He recommended for sure dropping the "solae", which I think we're all OK with anyway. (He said that most people who learn this material -- in seminary classes, for example -- are used to saying "solas," not "solae.") But he also suggested creating the English plural by italicizing the Latin word sola, but not the final "s". So Reformation solas rather than Reformation solas. (Is anyone else finding that repeated use of the words "solas", "solae" and "sola" has rendered them devoid of all meaning? :-) ) I'm not fussed either way, but that seems to me more a matter of correctness of typography rather than of theological history.Thomask0 (talk) 18:48, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Ugh! Please, no. There's no real need for italics at all. StAnselm (talk) 20:19, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Well, if no case can be made for primary meaning (which surprises me, as the three solas are very often mentioned in sermons I hear in the Uniting Church in Australia which I attend), then how about sola (theology) as an article title?

I'm considering whether to raise a separate RM for the Norwegian town and the DAB at sola (disambiguation). If this topic isn't the primary meaning of sola then probably there isn't one. Andrewa (talk) 12:10, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Oppose all above. The number is mutable, evident in the article today. Sola alone is so curt as to be poorly recognizable, even misrecognizable. Suggest instead:

--SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:16, 22 January 2015 (UTC)


The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.