Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Word, the Church, and the Regula Fidei

"For the first three centuries," Keith Mathison argues in his The Shape of Sola Scriptura, "we find a general consensus regarding authority." This consensus was that the Scriptures of the Old Testament, together with those of the New once they were compiled, were understood to be the sole source of inspired revelation.

"The Scripture," he continues,
"... was to be interpreted by the Church and in the Church within the context of the regula fidei.... The Church was the interpreter and guardian of the Word of God, and the regula fidei was a summary of the apostolic preaching and the hermeneutical context of the Word of God. But only Scripture was the Word of God."
As an example of the regula fidei ("rule of faith") Mathison lists the Apostles' Creed. Thus, while such a creed is not inspired or infallible, it does hold a derivative, secondary authority which allows it to function as a hermeneutical boundary-marker. So when an individual or a church interprets the Bible in such a way that contradicts the apostolic tradition (regula fidei), that interpretation should be viewed with suspicion.

This view has been dubbed "Tradition 1."

What are some strengths or potential pitfalls of this position?