There are essentially five views that exist in the church today concerning the important issue of authority.
1. Dual-source theory
Belief that Tradition, represented by the magisterial authority of the Roman Catholic Church, is infallible and equal to Scripture as a basis for doctrine; the Church itself is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice since it must define and interpret Scripture and Tradition.
Adherents: Roman Catholics
2. Prima Scriptura
Belief that the Body of Christ has two separate sources of authority for faith and practice: 1) the Scriptures and 2) Tradition. Scripture is the primary source for authority, but by itself it is insufficient for all matters of faith and practice. Tradition also contains essential elements needed for the productive Christian life.
Adherents: Some Roman Catholics (an alternate view)
3. Regula Fidei
Lit. “Rule of faith.” Belief that tradition is an infallible “summary” of Scripture passed on through apostolic succession. Ultimately, there is only one source of revelation, but two sources of authority. In other words, Tradition is Scripture.
Adherents: Eastern Orthodox, some Protestants
4. Sola Scriptura
Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.
Adherents: Reformed Protestants/Evangelicals
5. Solo Scriptura or Nuda Scriptura
Belief that Scripture is the sole basis and authority in the life of the Christian. Tradition is useless and misleading, and creeds and confessions are the result of man-made traditions.
Adherents: Radical Reformers, Fundamentalists, Restorationist Churches
And from Part Two: