The 500th anniversary of the posting of traditional beginning of the Lutheran Reformation is now just 4 months away! And as a lead up to that event, we have been remembering some of the things that really set Lutherans apart from the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters. So far, we have looked at Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). These great doctrines teach us to look to the Word of God alone, that salvation is by grace alone, and that we are made righteous to God by Faith Alone. We don’t add anything to these, as much as our sinful broken flesh argues to the contrary.
This month we are going to add one more… Solus Christus, or “Christ Alone.”
Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life? I am reminded of an Oprah clip that goes around the Internet once in a while, where a younger Oprah finds herself at odds with her audience when she argues that Jesus is but one of many ways to salvation. Oprah, of course, has become somewhat of a new age “you have the power within you to change the universe” guru. But back then, many of her audience were surprised.
Scripture is very clear that Jesus is the only way to salvation. In John 5:39, Jesus says that all scripture bears witness about Him. In John 14:9, Jesus teaches that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father. And in Acts 4:12, Peter in Jerusalem proclaims that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Salvation, according to god, is by Jesus alone.
And yet the world looks for God in so many other places. The ancient Greeks and Romans looked to idols. Pagan religion throughout the ages have looked to sun or moon gods. Others create sophisticated religions around Buddha or Hinduism. Islam has made a god who is very different than Jesus. And especially in our world today, we find a god in our very self.
So Lutherans have always taught that salvation is found in no one else, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him. And yet from the beginning of the Reformation, even other Christians have rejected this basic teaching. Even as late as 1964 Lumen Gentium, which is cited in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholics adamantly reject Solus Christus.
But for Lutherans, anything that reduces Christ is a heresy. This includes any access to eternal life apart from Jesus, or the thought that all religions honor and pray to the same God, or that our works earn our salvation in any way, etc.
Thanks be to God who has given us this beautiful and wonderfully simple teaching of Solus Christus. As much as we in our sinful flesh might want to add to Christ, truly we know and confess that we are in fact saved by Christ Alone.
 “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, paragraph 847)
Pastor Thomas Brown