Saturday, 28 June 2008

Irenaeus and the regula veritatis

For Irenaeus, the regula veritatis refers to that which was there from the beginning: an unshakeable, unchangeable truth, proclaimed by Jesus and the apostles and preserved by the church in Scripture. It is truth itself, revealed in the proclamation of the prophets and apostles and passed on to the Christian at baptism. It is this reality itself that is the unique, absolute norm for faith and practice. This reality is not to be identified with either scripture or tradition, it is rather the reality to which scripture and tradition witness. It lies behind the church's tradition, within which it finds its continual witness. The regula veritatis, then, is the “really real,” the actual content of faith, the revelation itself, the actual events of salvation history, and as such is universal, unitary, and self-consistent. The function of the baptismal creed is to to summarise this reality; the function of scripture is to witness to this reality; and the function of tradition is to preserve the teaching of the scripture concerning this reality. Hägglund says,

It is not dependent on the letters or the wording of the [Baptismal] Confession, but rather on the reality which is behind it, which is presented in the sentences of the Confession. It is evident that the various formulations can change, without the truth being changed in the process (12).
German: “Es kommt nicht auf den Buchstaben oder dem Wortlaut des Bekenntnisses an, sondern auf die dahinterliegende Wirklichkeit, die in den Sätzen des Bekenntnisses kurz dargestellt wird. Es ist selbstverständlich, dass die Formulierungen wechseln können, ohne dass damit die Wahrheit verändert wird.” (12).

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