This is the last post of my series in which I translate Hägglund's important essay, "The Significance of the regula fidei for dogmatic claims." I've only selected bits relevant to the question of theological exegesis. As such, I leave out his concluding remarks on the significance of the regula fidei for the construal of Church history, which of course does not mean that the topic is not utterly fascinating and important! I'm delighted to have heard that Esteban of Vox Stefani has recieved a review copy of Hägglund's History of Theology. I eagerly anticipate his responses, hopefully with a bit of Orthodox wisdom smattered in. For an overview of all the posts in this thread, go here.
It is important to observe two things: 1) The “process of passing on” (“das Tradieren”) is a matter of going back to the source (Ursprung) and not only a transmission of that which we now recognize as the creation of a past generation. “Source” (“Ursrpung”) means here both the original reality itself as well as the original witness, in which the church at all times has the only possible access to this reality. It is true that this dogmatic “passing on” is not only a repetition or faithful preservation of the texts of holy scripture from generation to generation. It is also an interpretation or a systematic treatment of that which was originally given. But this does not mean that the doctrinal tradition can be an independent source of truth alongside (gegenüber) scripture. The regula fidei plays an important role in the activity of “interpretation” (which belongs to the traditioning process of theology) by expressing the bondage of dogmatic thought to an already existing reality and to the original witness which mediates to us the knowledge of this reality.
2) The regula fidei is not only a formula to which dogmatics is constitutionally (gesetzmässig), formally (äusserlich) bound, it also gives us certain guidelines in terms of content for the concrete presentation of Christian doctrine. It is necessary that the real regula, i.e. the actual given order of the events of salvation, grounds the coherency and unity of the dogmatic presentation. As we have already seen, the regula in its original version (Fassung) presented the totality of the divine plan of salvation. This totality must therefore always underlie dogmatic statements as an unavoidable precondition, even when it is not being directly presented or when it is being adumbrated in a pars pro toto. With this uniformity of the rule of faith dogmatics is given the unity to which it must work, as if towards a target. Wherever other theological conceptual contexts (Gedankenzusammenhänge) dominate,—whether an idea which is considered to be the essence of Christianity, whether an ordo salutis as the context of subject conversion experiences—there the actual order of salvation history, the οικονομια, is disfigured, because it is being observed from a false perspective. It is here that the regula fidei has the important function of presenting the inner coherency of the content of faith, as well determining the decisive points of dogmatic statements and thereby giving the entire theological enterprise its direction.