I realised that there is a clash of worldviews here.
A Protestant naturally believe that the Reformation was the restoration of something that once existed, so all the Reformers are labourers in the same garden, petals of the same flower, tentacles of the same octopus, etc., and it is silly to focus on Luther.
A Catholic, on the other hand, sees the Reformation as the irruption of something novel into Christendom that never existed before, and thus highly dependent in all its features on the character and emphases of the man who got it rolling and was the leading Reformer for the first two or three decades of the movement. From my point of view, the four ‘solas’ in your third point are historical accidents arising from Luther’s Augustinian background, and not the central axioms of Christianity.
2. ‘Luther translated the New Testament into German, but his intent was certainly not to divorce it from the entirety of Scripture. Luther's 39 articles were a reaction against the inherent corruption of the teachings of Christ that had built up over the centuries (e.g. Indulgences, Purgatory and Mary worship to name a couple).’
Everywhere in Luther’s writings you will find a very strong dichotomy between ‘Law’ and ‘Gospel’- i.e., between the Old Testament and the New Testament- with ‘Law’ playing the part of ‘scissors’ and ‘Gospel’ playing the part of ‘rock’. In this he stands solidly in the tradition of St. Augustine, St. Paul, and Christianity as a whole, so I am not intending to accuse him of anything untoward in separating the New and Old Testaments.
3. ‘The Reformation was based around a few key doctrinal issues (sometimes called the "Great Solas")Four that are key to this discussion are:
a) How can you be right with God?
By Grace Alone
b) How does this Grace Come?
By Christ Alone
c) How do we find Christ?
Through Scripture Alone
d) How are we 'saved'?
(jargon, I know, but scriptural
language so I'll use it)
By faith alone
Here’s an extract from something Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wrote in the Spectator last month. I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket for a few days, so I should probably write it down before it gets washed:
I never hear the name of the Church without smiling at the mischievous remark of Karl Barth, the great 20th-century Swiss Calvinist theologian. For him, ‘Santa Maria sopra Minerva’ was a perfect description of what is wrong with Catholicism: it is founded, said Barth, upon ancient pagan wisdom (and not on the Gospel), is too accepting of insights which arise outside the confines of Christianity (because it is too positive about the presence of grace everywhere) and it makes too much of Mary (because it dares to think that human beings have the dignity to ‘co-operate’ with God throught the exercise of their freedom).
Now Barth was called by Pope Pius XII the greatest theologian since Thomas Aquinas, so we have to take him seriously; but if Barth says that these things are what is wrong with Catholicism, I think I could make a fair case for saying that these are precisely the things that are right about Catholicism. Our European Christian culture- there is such a thing and it is central to the character of Europe, and it is a misrepresentation to delete Christianity from Europe’s past, present, and future- draws upon streams of wisdom and philosophy from ancient Greece and Rome, and this is undoubtedly an enrichment. As a Catholic, I most certainly believe that grace is at work everywhere in God’s creation, and not only within the life of Christians, because God is creator of all and leaves marks of his presence in every culture. Finally, I hold that God’s approach to us, and to Mary whom he asks to become the mother of the Saviour, respects our freedom to choose and respond to him- God, after all, does not impose divine love upon us. When God comes to us in Christ, he is welcomed by Mary, the first of those to be saved by him.
4. ‘Sola Scriptura is not unscriptural: try
2 Timothy 3:16-17 & 2 Peter 1:16-21 + 3:13-16 New Testament) and Psalm 119 (Old Testament) for starters - I'm happy to unpack them a litte more another time.’
The problem is, if Christ has intended the Church to be guided by a book, he would have said so: this is something pretty important, after all. Thus your citations should be something like Matthew X1:y1-z1, Mark X2:y2-z2, Luke X3:y3-z3 and John X4:y4-z4 to be convincing. What he did say about what would happen after he left involved the sending of the ‘Comforter’ – who Muslims believe to be Muhammad, and Christians the Holy Spirit- and something ambiguous about Peter being given the keys to bind and loose.
From the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy, 3:16-17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Saying all scripture is profitable is not at all the same thing as saying that only scripture is profitable.
From the Second Letter of St. Peter, 1:16-1:21
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’ and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
This seems to support the opposite point of view: ‘no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation’ implies that it is useless to read it without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This quote also certainly does not equate all Scripture with prophecy, or imply that the men moved by the Holy Spirit to make prophecies were necessarily recorded accurately.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
You could equally well say ‘ignorant and unstable people distort Ikea flat pack instructions, to their own destruction’: this does not imply ‘only Ikea flat pack instructions are useful in avoiding destruction.’
Are there two ways of numbering the Psalms? My Psalm 119 is very short and does not seem appropriate:
To the Lord in the hour of my distress I call and he answers me
‘O Lord, save my soul from lying lips, from the tongue of the deceitful.’
What shall he repay you in return, O treacherous tongue?
The warrior’s arrows sharpened and coals, red-hot, blazing.
Alas, that I abide a stranger in Meshech, dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Long enough have I been dwelling with those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for fighting.
Or, maybe it is appropriate...
Should you ever think that 'when you speak, I am for fighting', remember this nifty quote attributed to Leo Szilard: ‘A scientist's aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify.’ ;)