Difference Between Sola Scriptura and CENI

Sola Scriptura and CENI (Command, Example, or Necessary Inference) are both approaches to interpreting and applying the Bible within Christian churches, specifically in the context of determining authoritative teachings and practices. While they share similarities in their reliance on Scripture, they differ in their methods and underlying principles.

Sola Scriptura:

Sola Scriptura is a Latin phrase that means “Scripture Alone.” This principle emerged during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century as a reaction against the perceived corruption and abuses within the Roman Catholic Church. Sola Scriptura asserts that the Bible is the sole and ultimate authority for Christian faith and practice, and that it is sufficient for guiding believers in all matters of faith, doctrine, and conduct. This approach seeks to exclude any reliance on extra-biblical sources such as church tradition, the teachings of the Church Fathers, or the authority of church councils.

CENI (Command, Example, or Necessary Inference):

CENI is an interpretive framework primarily used by some Churches of Christ and other Restoration Movement churches. It provides a method for determining authoritative practices and teachings based on the New Testament. The CENI approach involves finding biblical support for a belief or practice through:

1. Command: A direct command or instruction given by Jesus or the apostles.

2. Example: An approved example or practice in the New Testament that the early Christians followed.

3. Necessary Inference: A logical conclusion drawn from the biblical text that cannot be contradicted by any other Scripture.

While both Sola Scriptura and CENI emphasize the primacy and authority of the Bible, they differ in their methods and scope. Sola Scriptura focuses on the sufficiency of Scripture as a whole for guiding Christian faith and practice, whereas CENI specifically seeks to derive authoritative teachings and practices from the New Testament by examining commands, examples, and necessary inferences.

It is important to note that not all Protestant denominations strictly adhere to Sola Scriptura, and not all Churches of Christ or Restoration Movement churches follow the CENI method uniformly. There is diversity in interpretation and application within both traditions.