The Five solas are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solas articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice. All five of the "solas" implicitly reject or counter the then prevailing status quo, the Catholic Church, which had, in the various reformers' minds, usurped divine attributes or qualities for the church, its hierarchy, and especially, its head, the Pope.
So when I say "foundational elements of protestantism" I am not necessarily referring to what all branches of protestant churches would confirm today but to what the actual reformers believed were the most important issues of doctrine facing the church of their day. They believed the Roman Catholic Church had perverted these doctrines and felt it was important enough to break away from the church to get back to biblical truth.
The five solas are:
- Sola scriptura - by scripture alone
- Sola fide - by faith alone
- Solus Christus - Christ alone
- Sola gratia - by grace alone
- Soli Deo gloria - glory to God alone