Friday, 17 April 2009

Creedal Ideology?

My hermeneutical key to reading Scripture is the regula fidei as expressed in the Creeds, and generally the four key doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, transcendence and grace. Is this another set of preconceptions that need to be put aside like the conservative preconception of inerrancy and the liberals' expressivism? (See previous post here.) I don't think so, and for two reasons.

First, inerrancy and expressivism seem to me to be alien to the Scriptures, plucked from another set of agendas. From the beginning the regula fidei is internal to the church, always present and developing, and used as the hermeneutical key, in the debates that raged in the patristic period. It is this rule of faith that internal to the church's reading of Scripture from the beginning, and its refinement parallels the formation of the Creeds and the canon of Scripture.

Second, I came to this position after being converted from a diametrically opposed position, indeed the outright rejection of the doctrines of Trinity and Incarnation. What converted me was the way in which these doctrines opened up the Scriptures from the inside, and brought back together what some modern biblical scholarship tears apart. But the rule of faith does this from the inside. Inerrancy is an alien principle that is believed and applied before Scripture is read (or eisegeted into Scripture itself), and expressivism's source of truth lies outside Scripture. The Trinity and Incarnation (and grace and transcendence) are internal readings. Give it a go; read the Scripture from the point of veiw of these four key doctrines. You will find that you replicate the debates of the early church that resulted in these creedal type beliefs, and come to the same kind of splits that the early church came to. Are you willing to affirm your humanity, as it is? Or do you try to split your humanity from God ever so subtly? How comfortable are you with a God who forgives so generously? And how do you feel about God's unity with a corpse? God dead in the flesh? Ask these questions, apply the doctrines, and read Scripture.


  1. Warren,

    I must confess your influence on me in this, but I have found this helpful.

    The one of other thing I would add that is deeply contained within the Creeds is Resurrection.

    And as a result of reading N.T.Wright's surprised by Hope I actually got the Resurrection.

    That Resurrection is not just code for when we die we go to Heaven, but that, actually that as Christians we believe that we will all one day be physically be Resurrected along with Creation itself of which Jesus is the First fruits as St.Paul says.

    I've found since comprehending that reading the New Testament in particular but the old Testament as well suddenly all starts to make sense and fit together. The passages that used to confuse me now are the passages that cause me to sing God's praises.

    So can I suggest that it needs to be five doctrines not just the four you've mentioned.


  2. I agree, and so when I say incarnation I mean birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. I should have clarified that because the Incarnation has been cut down to just birth, so to speak.

  3. I think this is though why the Resurrection needs to be included separately because when people talk about incarnation they get caught up in the wonder of God becoming human which is a wonderful thing. They miss what the Resurrection means for us viz. that we too will be resurrected.