Understanding the historical context in which the doctrine of Sola Scriptura emerged is helpful in our reflection on church leadership today. The idea that Scripture alone is the ultimate authority over faith and life was in contrast to the idea that Scripture and tradition were of equal authority. And from where did tradition come? It came from church leadership: councils, bishops, the pope. You can imagine the power and authority that the church leadership had at the time. The Reformers were not only concerned about doctrinal fidelity, but the moral decay of church leadership. They were concerned about the abuse of power and lack of accountability.
Sola Scriptura was a direct threat to the religious establishment. How? If the Bible is the ultimate authority, then anybody who knows and understands the Bible can challenge their priest, bishop, or even the Pope. The rise of this doctrine led to a culture change that kept church leaders accountable and church parishioners more engaged in studying God’s word.
As we reflect on the leadership culture in Southeast Asia we can see parallels with leadership at the time of the Reformation. What lessons can we learn from this time in church history to help us shape and guide leadership in the Southeast Asian church today? Come and join the discussion at the 2016 SEANG Conference in Bangkok!
photo credit: Nicolai Schäfer; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Petersplatz_von_der_Kuppel_des_Petersdoms,_Blickrichtung_Ost_im_September_2005.jpg