Today marks the 500th anniversary of the day that a man named Martin Luther was believed to have put forth a document protesting the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th century. Allegedly, he posted it on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, which was a common place to advertise academic disputations and theses.
This document became popularly known as The 95 Theses as it circulated throughout Europe (shout out to the printing press). It gave birth to a movement known as the Reformation, during which leaders like Luther and John Calvin called the church to return to original message of Jesus and the early church. Their theological convictions, rooted in what they read in Scripture, emerged within 5 points which we now know as "The 5 Solas." I've listed them below, along with 3 ways that they each practically impact Christian moms today.
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”)
Scripture is the only authority we can trust about who God is and who we are. It gives us all we need to know and is true and trustworthy. Therefore, if something contradicts scripture, it isn't true. For moms, this means...
- We can know the truth for ourselves. We find it in Scripture. We can test ideas against it as we determine what kind of church we will attend, what voices we will listen to, and what cultural messages we will believe or throw out. We do not have to blindly follow church leaders, mom bloggers, or parenting book authors.
- We are fully equipped. We can't tell ourselves that we don't have what we need to live and do motherhood well. We have a source for wisdom and a guide for life: God's very word. We don't have to depend on changing ideology, parenting self help books, or our circumstances. The Bible is a trustworthy and sufficient source of truth and wisdom. It offers us a world view and promises to provide "everything we need for life and godliness."
- We don't have to depend on our feelings. If scripture is our ultimate authority, our feelings cannot be. It doesn't matter if we feel like God is far away or unfair, or if we feel like we are worthless or our husbands are beyond loving. This book restores us to the truth about who God is and who man is. In the deceptive tides of hormones and lack of sleep, it tells us what is real and doesn't change.
Sola Fide (“faith alone”)
We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ. If we are saved by faith, then we are not saved by our works and actions. For moms, this means,
- We can let go of the need to perfect. We don't have to be. We don't have to live plagued by anxiety in the hustle of constantly trying to measure up or earn God's favor. We don't have to be devastated by our failures because our salvation doesn't depend on them.
- Since the weight of earning our salvation is off of our shoulders, we can serve joyfully without fear. We are not saved by our good works, but we are saved to them. We can delight in doing good because we are free to.
- We can stop punishing ourselves. Self deprecation and punishment for wrongs has no place if our righteousness is like filthy rags. We can let go of the million little ways we practice penance for our wrongdoing. We are delivered from the religious rituals of a sacrificial system and are saved instead by trust in a perfect savior.
Sola Gratia (“grace alone”)
We are saved by the grace of God alone. This means,
- We are delivered from anxiety over salvation. We've got nothing to do with it. Faith is a gift, not something you can conjure up. So we can ask knowing that he freely gives. We can fall asleep and rest well knowing that our salvation is accomplished by a God for whom nothing is too hard.
- We are released from believing that we must save our children. It is God who saves. We can plant and water, but if it is God who gives the growth, then we cannot claim ultimate responsibility for the fate of the souls of our children. We can walk into the opportunities he creates for us to teach and disciple them without bearing the burden of saving them.
- We parent differently. If we have received the grace of God, we can extend that same grace to our children. We can spend our days with them inviting them to receive it and telling them that they are changed by it instead of asking them to do things in their own strength.
Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)
Jesus Christ alone is our Savior.
- If Jesus alone is our Savior, then our idols are saved from us. Yes, you read it right. Our children and husbands are delivered from our demands that they perform according to our scripts. We are free to just love our families as they are as we trust the true savior.
- If Christ alone is our Savior, we can confidently go to God. He gives us his perfect record and stands next to the Father pleading on our behalf. We can boldly approach the throne of God because we have an intercessor standing for us who is not unable to sympathize with us.
- When we know that Christ is our righteousness, we can live confident lives. The life of Christ is given to us, so we don't have to defend ourselves to others. We have nothing to prove. We can humbly receive criticism and graciously learn from others because we are freed from comparison by embracing his record.
Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”)
Our salvation and our lives are for the glory of God alone. This means
- We are freed from working for our own reputation and fame. We don't have to feel held back by what he has given us because we are not concerned with our own fame. We cannot look at any action we perform as "not good enough" or "worthless" because anything we do, diaper changing, housework, nursing, or play is made glorious when we live for his glory.
- Our view of suffering and hardship changes when we are concerned for God's glory. When we come to understand that his glory IS our good, instead of being devastated by our circumstances, we can rejoice in suffering while we look for him at work in and through us within it.
- We are given a mission/purpose that we can live out anywhere while we are doing anything. We can delight in whatever task we are given and feel truly ourselves within it because we were made for his glory. We don't have to live aimlessly or ever feel like we don't have purpose. We can glorify him with our being.
The Reformers fought hard to ensure that these truths were commonly taught and accepted. Some of them even gave their lives in painful and humiliating ways to ensure that we could hold the word of God in our hands, learn the truth from it, and teach it to our children in our homes. They fought so that we would laugh at the thought of paying anyone to try buy salvation, or the thought of needing anyone other than Jesus to plead to God on our behalf. So let's honor their commitments, efforts, and sacrifices today by embracing the principles they fought to normalize for us. The Reformation isn't over. We can fight alongside these saints for these things in everyday conversations and practice. And we can teach our children to fight for them as well.