I’m going to start with what I believe to be true, starting with the “Five Solas”.
I am pretty new to Reformed Theology, but once I got my mind wrapped around the idea that what I grew up with had more problems than what I wanted to deal with, I embraced this. I also chose one of the more liberal Reformed demoninations (on purpose).
Anyway…my belief about Sola Scriptura is that the Holy Scriptures are our final authority. It is not that we don’t recognize any other authority - we recognize our spiritual mentors, pastors, etc. But all of the other authorities are measured against Scripture.
Paul praised the Bereans for examining what he said against Scripture; we do the same. We don’t have our Scripture interpreted for us through man - the man is judged against Scripture. If they don’t agree - Scripture wins.
If a person tells me that something is permissible, but the Bible says that it is not - the Bible wins (example: homosexuality).
If a person tells me that something is not permissible, it is up to him to show me in the Bible where the law comes from (example: having a drink with dinner).
If a person is teaching a doctrine that is not in the Bible, that doctrine is rejected (Tongues as the sign of the New Covenant).
I’m not such a big fan of Martin Luther, but this is what he said, “Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons — for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another — I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God’s Word.”
I also have problems with parts of the Reformed confessions (as does my church) and the confessions are not my authority, the Bible is. However, when they put things in a better way than I can come up with, I’ll quote them. The Belgic Confession says, “We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein…Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God… Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule”
In short, every authority, every standard and every message must be examined against the Scriptures. There is no man, no tradition that has more authority than the Word of God.