A friend posted this on his blog and I've adapted to fit here...
In contention for the truth of Christianity, both Irenaeus and his opponents referred to the Scriptures to justify their claims to truth. But Irenaeus referred to more than just the Scripture to make his stand; he referenced his lineage of faith. In essence, he argued that his view of Christ was true because he could trace his beliefs back to the Apostles’ teaching. He did not simply use the Scriptures, but he also referred to those who have gone before him and traced their teaching back to the Apostles. His opponents, on the other hand, could not boast of such a lineage. They devised doctrine of their own imagination, disregarding the fact that their beliefs were never held by any before them. If it is new, according to Irenaeus, then it is, by virtue of its novelty, not admissible as a viable option for belief. The Holy Spirit works in and with the church and the church is made up of those living (ecclesia militans) and dead (ecclesia triumphans). Therefore, those who have gone before us create an accountability structure and we cannot separate ourselves from their testimony, even if we believe the Bible is on our side. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not going to teach something essentially different to the present church than he did to those who have gone before us—no matter how special you think you are.
Orthodox theologian Bradley Nassif says that the biggest problem he sees in Evangelicalism is that we have “historic amnesia.” We need to be able to trace our faith, teaching, and doctrine back to the Apostles, finding harmony with those who have gone before us.
When we ordain ministers, we are not simply advocating their kindness, usefulness, and general likability. Neither are we ordaining them because they are good preachers, counselors, or encouragers. We are first ordaining them because they are representatives of the historic Christian faith. They are successors to the Apostles in that their beliefs and teachings find historical continuity and biblical integrity—the two of which should not be separated.
If we had this type of assumed accountability, to be Evangelical would mean something again. As well, a whole lot of self-proclaimed Evangelicals would fall off the roster due to disqualification. They can then call themselves whatever they please, but “Evangelical” would be mistaken. So then, I call myself a “Historic Evangelical,” in line with the historic Christian faith on all issues that have defined Christianity everywhere, always, by all (ubique, semper, omnibus).
A good place to start would be the Historic, Ecumenical Creeds, i.e. the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon.
Couldn't say it better myself!