Where absolute reliance on God's word, proclaimed by his accredited ambassadors, is wanting, i.e.where there is not the virtue of faith, there can be no unity of Church. In faith by hearing, the last word rests with the teacher; in private judgment it rests with the reader, who submits the dead text of Scripture to a kind of post-mortem examination and delivers a verdict without appeal: he believes in himself rather than in any higher authority. Private judgment is fatal to the theological virtue of faith. Discussion of the Three Fundamental Principles of Protestantism: A. For faith consists in submitting; private interpretation consists in judging. An acknowledged Protestant authority, Philip Schaff (in "The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge", s.v. In its extreme form Chillingworth expressed this principle of the Reformation in the well-known formula, "The Bible, the whole Bible , and nothing but the Bible , is the religion of Protestants." Protestantism, however, by no means despises or rejects church authority as such, but only subordinates it to, and measures its value by, the Bible , and believes in a progressive interpretation of the Bible through the expanding and deepening consciousness of Christendom. However vague and indefinite the creed of individual Protestants may be, it always rests on a few standard rules, or principles, bearing on the Sources of faith, the means of justification, and the constitution of the Church. Sola Scriptura ("Bible Alone") The [first] objective [or formal] principle proclaims the canonical Scriptures , especially the New Testament, to be the only infallible source and rule of faith and practice, and asserts the right of private interpretation of the same, in distinction from the Roman Catholic view, which declares the Bible and tradition to be co-ordinate sources and rule of faith, and makes tradition, especially the decrees of popes and councils, the only legitimate and infallible interpreter of the Bible . During the debates in Parliament it was observed that the proposed formula effectively debarred Catholics from the throne, whilst it committed the king to no particular creed, as no man knows what the creed of a faithful Protestant is or should be.
But Scripture speaks of bishops, priests, deacons as invested with spiritual powers not possessed by the community at large, and transmitted by an external sign, the imposition of hands , thus creating a separate order, a hierarchy.
The sacraments themselves, in fact, become superfluous.
The abolition of priests, sacrifices, and sacraments is the logical consequence of false premises, i.e.
They are due to the pride of private intellect, and they can only be healed by humble submission to a Divine authority. Sola Fide (Justification by "Faith Alone") See the separate article J USTIFICATION . Priesthood of All Believers The "universal priesthood of believers" is a fond fancy which goes well with the other fundamental tenets of Protestantism.
For, if every man is his own supreme teacher and is able to justify himself by an easy act of faith, there is no further need of ordained teachers and ministers of sacrifice and sacraments.