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Date of Award

2004

Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Systematic Theology

Department

School of Theology • Seminary

First Advisor

Charles Bobertz

Abstract

This paper provides a theoretical survey of the genre of the pre-Nicene rule of faith, as exemplified especially in the works of lrenaeus, Tertullian and Origen. After a brief excursus into a common contemporary understanding of rules in general and a survey of how rules and similar categories function in society, this paper argues that in fact the Patristic Rule of Faith allowed for and even fostered a diversity of possible 'takes' on the particulars of nascent Christian belief Moreover, it actually helped to foster a vigorous atmosphere of debate while preventing diverse viewpoints that might have seen themselves as exclusive of one another from coming apart. In light of this assertion, the paper concludes with a brief consideration of how such mediatory sensibilities inherent in the Rule of Faith might serve as a model for moderating the current theological climate, experienced by many as acrimonious.

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