On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Church – and Sola Scripturabecame the battle cry of Protestant Europe and the dread of every Roman Catholic scholar.
Once again this battle cry has been sounded, but now in the southernmost part of Latin America – Argentina. ARBCA missionary Don Donell organised the first distinctly reformed pastors’ conference in the Cordoba province, and the first for many years in the city of Buenos Aires.
The conference focussed on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. In Argentina millions live under the spiritual tyranny of Catholic traditions and pagan superstitions. The Bible has little place even in the ‘evangelical’ church.
The conference was sponsored by special project funds from ARBCA churches. It lasted three days and brought together pastors across many denominational lines.
Conference speakers were Dr James Adams (Cornerstone Fellowship Church, Mesa, Arizona); Bill Green (San Jose, Costa Rica; missionary and director of Latin American missions for the World Reformed Fellowship); and Reformed Baptist Pastor Omar Ramos (Santiago, Chile).
Pastor Ramos brought clear messages from Psalm 19 on the sufficiency of Scripture. He addressed the ‘bypaths’ of the modern church, including secular psychology and experientialism. He exhorted pastors to ‘contend for the faith once delivered to the saints’, and to ‘preach the Word’ without regard for pragmatism and other popular ‘-isms’.
Bill Green highlighted the mass exodus that is taking place from many charismatic denominations. Their mushroom growth in recent years has sadly only served to inoculate many people against the evangelical faith, by giving them ‘experience’ without the substance of real faith. Bill helpfully reminded us that ‘the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself’.
Pastor Adams pursued the theme of the sufficiency of Scripture with joy and energy. He dealt with it from the perspective of biblical theology. The Scriptures are in themselves a dynamic, once for all, unrepeatable redemptive act of God. He clearly exposed the flaws of the modern ‘apostles’ movement and ‘hermeneutic of the Spirit’, showing that in many cases they are ‘neo-pagan’ in nature.
Not the power of men
The Lord graciously met with us in this first conference and enabled us to see afresh his glory in his inspired Word. One group had travelled for 18 hours by car to be there and, when it was over, counted the journey more than worth the sacrifice. One neo-Pentecostal pastor prayed, ‘the Lord forgive me for not preaching the Scriptures as they truly have been revealed to be – the Word of God’.
The cry of Sola Scriptura has come to Argentina. It is not the power of men, even Luther, that brought about the Reformation, but the power of God’s Word preached and lived.
May the Lord shape South America to receive ‘the more sure prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2 Peter 1:19).