Some 2d and 3d c. ch. fathers (e.g., Irenaeus,* Tertullian,* Dionysius* of Corinth, Clement* of Alexandria, Hippolytus,* Novatian*) and the Clementine Homilies (see Clementines) refer to the rule of faith (Lat. regula fidei); other terms for it: canon (or rule) of truth (Gk. kanon tes aletheias), canon (or rule) of the ch. (Gk. kanon ekklesiastikos), authority of the ch. (Lat. auctoritas ecclesiae), or, simply, the faith (Lat. fides).
The precise dimensions of the rule of faith have been considerably debated. Some include all Scripture; others include only the formulated creed. The term rule of faith experienced development and meant different things at different times.
Initially rule of faith was understood as the apostolic faith orally transmitted; Tertullian and Irenaeus present it in a variety of forms and with considerable fluctuation in content. What the apostles had preached and what had been received and preserved as apostolic tradition became the rule, or norm, of faith, the church's doctrine, as well as the guide to the right interpretation of apostolic Scripture.
From the beginning, the rule of faith and Baptism were closely related. Content of instruction given catechumens in preparation for Baptism: basic elements of apostolic doctrine (e.g., teaching concerning the triune God, the person and work of Christ, the meaning of Baptism, Christian life, the ch., and the final coming of Christ). Often a concisely worded summary was given catechumens to be memorized and spoken as a baptismal confession of faith. By the time of Augustine* of Hippo the rule of faith and the baptismal creed were regarded as identical. HJAB
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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