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On the meaning of “sola scriptura”:
“Martin Luther’s defense of sola fide was based on the premise that the Bible is the sole infallible source of divine revelation, and it was his refusal to grant such authority to popes and church councils that really got him into trouble. Rome, on the other hand, appealed to Scripture and the living tradition of the church, unwritten teachings passed on orally from the apostles down through the bishops and interpreted by the Roman Catholic magisterium (the teaching officers of the church). The doctrine of justification of the Roman Catholic Church then and now is grounded in works of penance, the treasury of merit, and other elements established in tradition, not the Word of God.
According to Rome’s official pronouncements, these unwritten traditions are equal in authority to the Bible. Paragraph 44 of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” In practice, however, it is the church that has final, infallible authority. Its interpretations of the faith are binding even when they are unfounded in the Bible.
Jesus makes it clear that to violate the Word of God for the sake of the traditions of men is always wrong (Mark 7:9), and so Protestantism asserts sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is the final authority for the church. Church traditions such as are found in creeds and the writings of important church leaders do not lack authority altogether and can guide our understanding of Scripture. Luther and Calvin, in fact, both cited Augustine regularly in their teachings. But Scripture always wins out when it conflicts with tradition.”