The Five Solas of the Reformation

Five Solas of the Reformation

What are the Five Solas, and what do they have to do with Reformed Theology?

The “Five Solas” are Latin phrases that collectively served as foundational principles of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation  was a movement that began in the 1500’s and sought to “reform” the traditions and beliefs of Roman Catholicism.

The Five Solas identified the distinctive theological positions held by the reformers and continue to serve as distinguishing characteristics of Reformed Theology. Below is a brief description of each, as well as links to additional information.

Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

Reformed Theology maintains that salvation cannot be obtained through human effort (Ephesians 1:7). It is only by the unmerited grace of God that we have a means of forgiveness and justification to restore our relationship with Him.

“Truly, then, we are saved by grace alone, without works or other merit.” – Martin Luther (Tweet That)

For Further Study:

Sola Fide (Faith Alone)

Coupled with the previous sola, we hold that justification is an act of God’s grace which can only be received through faith. No good work or deed on our part will allow us to earn this gift, but instead we put our faith in Christ as our only means of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The main Reformed distinctive seen in Sola Fide is that the instrument of receiving God’s grace is faith, not faith and works. Faith alone is, of course, in reference to our justification, or being made right with God. The believer’s sanctification is a process of becoming more Christ like, where our good works spring forth from our faith.

For Further Study:

Solus Christus (Christ Alone)

God is gracious, but He is also holy and just. In order for sinners to be justified, these sins must be accounted for. This was accomplished through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The atoning death of Christ is the only means by which we can obtain the forgiveness of our sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).

For Further Study:

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone)

All things, including the justification of sinners and the lives of believers, are created for the purpose of bringing glory to God (Revelation 4:11). As stated in the Westminster Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC 1).

For Further Study:

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

The Bible is our ultimate authority for understanding God, salvation, and how we are to live our lives. All matters of theology and doctrine are to find their source in Scripture, as it is God’s inerrant Word and is all-sufficient for teaching and correction (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

“Scripture is therefore the perfect and only standard of spiritual truth, revealing infallibly all that we must believe in order to be saved and all that we must do in order to glorify God. That—no more, no less—is what sola Scriptura means.” – John MacArthur

Reformed Theology maintains that all theological stances must find their footing in Scripture. (Tweet That)

For Further Study:

In Summary

Reformed Theology teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, to the glory of God alone. Furthermore, the Bible is our authoritative source for understanding this and all other aspects of our faith. These biblical truths are succinctly captured in the Five Solas.

You May Also Like: The Five Points of Calvinism – Defining the Doctrines of Grace


Article written by Clayton Kraby. For similar articles and resources, follow @TheologyTweets on Twitter or Subscribe via Email to ReasonableTheology.org.

Clayton Kraby
Written by Clayton Kraby
I'm a full-time M.Div. student and created ReasonableTheology.org to help make theology accessible for the everyday Christian. You can find me on Twitter @ClayKraby. Help me attend seminary.