Martin Luther was the first to come up with the fallacy of the five solas. He called them doctrine, but they are false doctrine. What are the five solas? They are derived from the original Latin they were written in:
Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. These translate in English, respectively: scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, and God’s glory alone.
Let’s look at these in more detail:
1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice.
2. Sola Gratia: The idea that salvation is by grace alone. The idea that it is an unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness, not our own (because supposedly we don’t have any).
3. Sola Fide: The idea that salvation is through faith alone. The idea that faith is a gift bestowed by God.
4. Solus Christus: The idea that salvation is found in Christ alone.
5. Soli Deo Gloria: The idea that God saves man for God’s glory alone, and that believers are to live our lives to glorify Him alone.
The truth is, despite what virtually every Protestant Christian church claims in the west, only two out of these five are true; and even so, within a limited scope.
These two are scripture alone and Christ alone. These are valid because scripture is in reference to doctrine, and Christ is in reference to the path to salvation.
Meanwhile, grace alone, faith alone, and God’s glory alone are logical fallacies. On the one hand, they say that Christ alone is the only way to receive salvation. Then they added three more “alone”s – faith, grace, and God’s glory. Clearly, they have not considered that this is an inherent contradiction.
To say that it is Christ alone, yet we have to have faith, and that it is by grace alone as well, and on top of that God’s glory alone, this makes absolutely no sense.
It’s much like saying that you go to a store to purchase a gift and the cashier says, “we only accept cash, nothing else.” You try to pay with cash and he says, “we only accept card”. Then you try to pay with card he says “we only accept RFID chips”. You are left thinking, “well which is it?!” It can’t be all three alone, because alone implies one. Saying others apply alone also in the same frame of reference is a contradiction. You would never be able to complete your purchase – every time you tried to pay it would be contradicted by the infinite logical loop, because you cannot have more than one thing “alone” in the same frame of reference.
Sola Gratia: Grace Alone
Likewise, you can’t have salvation by grace “alone” if it also requires faith. If it requires faith or grace, then it can’t be “Christ alone”. If it requires any of these, then it is not for God’s glory alone. Otherwise, why need faith if it is utterly out of your hands? It’s not the faith of God that it is referencing. It is the faith of the human. A work. While faith can’t be seen, it is still implicitly an action – at least, in the frame of reference of modern Christianity. The point is you have to “have it”, and those who don’t “have it” can’t have salvation.
You can’t require faith and at the same time require that grace is the only reason you get saved. It contradicts itself. It is either faith, or grace, or the glory of God, or Christ, or some combination. It can’t be “only” one of these and at the same time be all of these.
Soli Deo Gloria: God’s Glory Alone
Moreover, it can’t be God’s glory alone. The idea is that the only reason we are saved is because God chose to because it is all for God’s glory. Of course, this then requires the tenets of Calvinism, specifically that of predestination. That God chose some people for salvation and others for eternal damnation from birth. This is completely false and unbiblical.
If you choose salvation by God’s grace alone, then you have two choices: either everyone on Earth receives salvation no matter what, or God predestined some people for salvation and others for damnation before they were even born. Neither choice, of course, are true or biblical. Therefore Soli Deo Gloria is also false – if it were true, it would contradict the Bible. And if it contradicts the Bible, then it contradicts the first tenet – Sola Scriptura, thereby invalidating the five tenets.
Solus Christus: Christ Alone
Salvation through Christ alone is true – but Christ is not the only requirement. Truly, Christ is the only path to salvation. But Christ is discriminatory. Some will be saved, others will not be. This is not merely random, and it isn’t because God foreordained some people to go to hell to eternal torment, a destiny determined before they were even born. No, people go to hell because they have rejected the truth and lived life as they pleased.
Therefore, Solus Christus, in some respects, is not entirely correct either.
Yes, Christ is the only path to heaven. But there are prerequisites to this. These prerequisites – holiness, faith and acceptance of Christ, repentance, forgiveness of others, etc, are all found in the Bible. (If you haven’t already, check out The Terrible Dangers of the Doctrine of Grace | A Christian Discourse Based on Biblical Teachings)
Christ may be the only path to salvation, but Christ is not the sole requirement. Otherwise, everyone would be saved without merit. If salvation was due to nothing we can possibly do, then the only two choices are that everyone on Earth is automatically saved, or, God chose some people to go to hell and it doesn’t matter what they do, they were damned at birth. This is not true because the Bible says, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Since Christ clearly died for all, and not just for some who were “predestined” to salvation, then if salvation is by Christ alone without any merit than the only choice remaining is to have everyone on Earth be saved automatically from birth. However, we know this also is not true. Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
Therefore we have determined with absolute clarity that Scripture denies the doctrine of predestination. One one hand, it cannot be that all are saved automatically, because Matthew 7:21-23 clearly says that some are going to hell. On the other hand, it cannot be that God predestined some people to go to hell, because Christ died for all as 2 Corinthians 5:15 says.
Thus, the idea that there is nothing people can do and it is all in the hands of God who chooses who is saved and who goes to hell, is invalidated by scripture. Both logical possibilities are refuted by the very words of Christ and the Word of God. There is no other possibility. It is either all or some or none. And if God is the sole determiner for “His glory alone” or through “Christ alone” and not by any merit whatsoever – that nothing we do makes any difference regarding salvation – then He alone makes that choice. However, this false doctrine is clearly refuted by scripture.
Christ alone is the only path to salvation. But Christ won’t save you if you do not follow him, repent of your sins, and live a pure life. Matthew 7:21-23 clearly states not just that Jesus died for all, but that Jesus’ death and sacrifice only opened the door. Not everyone automatically gets through that door, and a few words you say once aren’t going to get you through that door. Clearly, Matthew 7:21-23 states that people who follow the will of God are the ones who will be saved; meanwhile, the ones who practice lawlessness – even though they called on the name of Jesus, and even did miracles in Jesus’ name, will still go to hell!
Saying words is meaningless without actions. This is why James said in James 2:14-26, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” You cannot have faith without works. This verse alone invalidates the “faith alone” argument even despite sola fide’s inherent logical fallacy.
Christ is the only way, but it is not “Christ alone” as in Christ is the only requirement. If it were Christ alone, then everyone would be saved automatically. Rather, it is Christ alone who provides the way to salvation, but it also requires righteous living and holiness for Christ to grant your name in the Book of Life, so you may be saved. Christ will not save those who live lawless lives and do not follow the will of God.
Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone
As for Scripture alone, I believe this tenet to be true. Scripture alone is the sole medium by which to create doctrine in the church. Not the words of people like Martin Luther or John Calvin, not by the Pope, not by your pastor or church leader. Scripture alone determines doctrine. If any person promotes doctrine that contradicts the Bible, just as the tenets of Calvinism do, and this leads someone astray, there will be grave consequences. Luke 17:2 says, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Therefore, the five solas are a logical fallacy. Only two are valid: scripture alone and Christ alone; and only one is entirely valid: scripture alone. Christ alone is only valid within the respect that, along with righteousness, faith, and repentance, Christ is the only way to salvation. However, Christ alone is not the sole dictator of your salvation – God gives you a choice. Your good works are not worthless (like Calvinists love to say); your righteousness is highly valued to God.
Psalm 11:7 says, “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” Clearly God loves your righteousness. Your good works are not like filthy rags to God. That is simply false doctrine propagated throughout the modern church. What the Bible actually says is that God loves your good works – God loves righteousness. In fact, without good works on account of faith, Christ will not accept you into the family of God and will not write your name in the book of life.
Do you earn salvation then? No, you do not “earn” salvation through works. You cannot save yourself by simply doing good works and living a good life. Without Christ, it does not matter how many good works you do, you cannot be saved. Only through Christ can you be saved. Therefore you are not saved by works, you are saved by Christ. However, you do not get saved by Christ if you have not works, by way of faith in Christ.
Sola Fide: Faith Alone
Faith alone is likewise not the way. Faith without works is not faith at all. There is no faith without works. Moreover, faith and works alone cannot save without also Christ. Christ cannot save without the grace of God. And God’s glory – God does save people for His glory, but God does not save people who do not serve His glory. If you live a lawless life, despite having said a sinner’s prayer once or calling yourself a Christian, then you will not be saved, not by God’s grace, God’s glory, or Christ; because you will be rejected by both God and Christ if you do not follow the words God wrote on your heart, and which He speaks to you through scripture, and through the Holy Spirit.
In summary, the five solas are not five solas. They are logical fallacies. None of the five solas “sola” – that is, “alone” are valid. All the elements do have scriptural precedence – faith is required, grace is required, Christ is required, the glory of God plays a role, and scripture is the Word by which we can acquire this understanding. The Bible reinforces that faith without works is dead, so if faith is required then so are works.
None of the elements in the five can be excluded. You cannot gain the understanding of the law without scripture, and knowledge of the truth through scripture – either directly from reading or indirectly such as through a missionary to some remote tribal village. You cannot be saved except through Christ, who provides salvation through the grace of God, and for the glory of God. And lastly, Christ will only accept you and save you if you have faith, and in order to have faith you must demonstrate your faith through works, as the book of James says so many times. All elements are required, not just one. There is no “sola”.
The entire Five Solas philosophy is one great big logical fallacy. It contradicts and invalidates itself on so many levels. These solas are a corruption of scripture, and this false doctrine provided a foundation for the fallacious pretense of Christian doctrine that we have today, which ignores righteousness as a requirement for salvation as an integral part of faith. The five solas are false, and it is about time that we stop mindlessly quoting and accepting them without any conscious or rational thought, or scriptural basis.