Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Unity of Scripture - The Rule of Faith?

According to Irenaeus (Haer. 3.4.1-2), the rule of faith is: "one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent." Strictly speaking, Irenaeus calls this the "ancient tradition" which he says even the illiterate Barbarians have accepted.

The regula fidei is a summary of Christian teaching in narrative form. P.M. Blowers ("The Regula Fidei and the Narrative Character of Early Christian Faith," Pro Ecclesia 6 [1997]: 208) writes: "The Great Church committed itself not to a universally invariable statement of faith but to variable local tellings of a particular story that aspired to universal significance." It may be the case, then, that the narrative of the regula fidei is itself birthed from the narrative of the biblical witness to the act of the triune God in Jesus Christ and this is what constitutes the unity of Scripture.


Jim Hamilton said...


Thanks for this post. From what I understand, the "boundaries" that the early Christians set up had to do with the specific challenges they were facing. Yes everything Ir. says is true, but it seems that he chooses to say these things b/c these things confront particular points of dispute on which he feels a need to put a stake in the ground.

What issues would you identify as those that we need to clearly state what we believe the Scriptures to teach in our current context?


Unknown said...

One the one hand, we can say that the rule of faith constitutes the centre and boundary of our faith in the broader sense of "the faith". Nonetheless, we always have to refine our statement of faith when new challenges arise. I think in our own day the main issues that we need to clarify relate to human sexuality and religious pluralism.

Rod said...

Is Irenaeus referring to a narrative, or historical events?

That is the real question; what would be their relationship, I wonder in Irenaeus' view?