“Jesus didn’t say that the Bible would guide you into all the truth; he said the Spirit would.”
These words, by Jared Byas @jbyas on Twitter had me intrigued. I have always sat between these two positions, being Protestant, Evangelical and Charismatic.
The five solas of Protestantism are Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria, or as commonly put together in English: Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. I was surprised to find out that these five solas, although all written by the reformers, were not put together in that form until 1965, The order they come in and the prepositions attached are a very new doctrine.
My own glorious conversion was not until I was at university in 1974, I assumed that the five solas were an ancient doctrine, as it was wrongly attributed to Martin Luther, but it slowly evolved over time. What can be attributed to Luther are scripture over tradition, faith over works and grace over merit.
In 1958, in a summary of the works of John Calvin, sola fide and sola gratia were put together as one term, followed by sola scriptura and soli Deo gloria. Sortly later sola scriptura was replaced in another document by Christus solus. the list now conformed to the list in Romans 5:1-2, Therefore, having been justified by faith [faith alone], we have peace with God through Jesus Christ [Christ alone]. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace [grace alone] in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God [the glory of God alone]. Note that Paul’s writing here does not have the important word alone.
I sometimes feel ashamed to use the term Evangelical. To an extent the early Evangelicals in the 18th Century brought back the importance of merit, opening orphanages and fighting in Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade among other things. Works were seen as an outworking of salvation rather than how we were saved, and can be seen as evidence that we are saved. These days Evangelical is used of Christians who have replaced the social side of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with right wing politics which allows them to discriminate against groups of people their politics would dismiss, using selective texts from the Bible to go against the teachings of thereby going against the teaching of the early Evangelical preachers such as Wesley and Whitefield, the teachings of the Refirmers and of Jesus Christ who taught that we should not only love Od with all that we are, but also love other people as we love ourselves.
Evangelical reaching has been described by the Bebbington Quadrilateral, four things that Evangelicals have in Common. Evangelicals believe in conversion (being born-again), biblicism (the need to base one’s faith fundamentally on the Bible), the theological priority of the cross (Jesus died for sinners), and activism (the need to share one’s faith with others). I am wary of Evangelicals whose activism is limited to sharing a Gospel of being saved, but neglects the social side, that we are called by Jesus Christ himself to look after the most vulnerable, the poor and the powerless. Evangelicals who concentrate their ministry on preaching salvation but support others whose ministry is amongst the poor are OK by me.
There is no mention above of the Holy Spirit in this post so far. Shortly after my conversion, I heard the term Charismatics being applied to some Christians. I had no idea what it meant, and even less of an idea that I would become one. I even became the worship leader at the local renewal group which ran into the very early 1980s.
Whilst there I ran into a lot of different sorts of Christians, all of whom were experiencing the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. There were traditional protestants, evangelicals and Catholics of both the Roman and Anglo persuasions. This taught me an important lesson, you do not have to get your theology right for God to use you.
One of the best things I learned from Charismatic renewal is not just the importance of the Holy Spirit but also the importance of the Bible. The Holy Spirit was instrumental in the inspiration and writing of the Bible and she will not lead us to do things that are out of character of what the Bible reveals about God. Scripture is not to be worshipped, but it does point us to the God we worship.
We do not worship Father, Son and Holy Scripture, though some conservative evangelical writing makes it sound like that. Neither do we worship Father, Son and Virgin Mary, no matter what the catholics say. We worship the God that scripture and Mary point us to. It is God the Holy Spirit that leads us.