Reflection of Sola Scriptura in the Classical and Radical Reformation: Western European and Eastern European Contexts

Sergiy Sannіkov


The article examines the need for Sola Scriptura at the first stage of the reformation movement as the main tool for solving epistemological problems in order to find a reliable source of knowledge of God, bypassing the mediating role of the Catholic Church. Then the reformers tried to apply this principle to the practice, they faced the hermeneutical difficulties and the article shows the ways how they are solving these problems. Author demonstrated how the representatives of the Magisterial Reformation (the Lutheranism, Calvinism and others) limited hermeneutical highhandedness with the introduction of catechisms and confessions of faith, and representatives of the Radical Reformation (Anabaptists, Mennonites, etc.) mainly used the principle of congregational hermeneutics and hermeneutics of obedience.

In the Eastern European context, the idea of Sola Scriptura appeared several centuries later and was widely spread in the movements of religious dissidence, and later in various groups of evangelical Christianity. The use of the Sola Scriptura’ principle in these groups for a long time was based on the “common sense” approach, preserving the Anabaptist hermeneutic trajectory of naive realism, obedience and congregational control. At the early 90’s of the XX century, after the arrival in this part of the world of the historicalcritical approach, which gained popularity in evangelical schools, the principle of Sola Scriptura became more a slogan than a real program of actions. The article raises questions about the search for new hermeneutical strategy of biblical interpretation, which returns the researcher directly to the text, rather than to historical and cultural reconstructions.


Protestantism; Reformation; Hermeneutics; Sola Scriptura; Epistemology; Congregational hermeneutics; Historical-critical approach.



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