That the Church is, by its origin, independent of, and previous to the New Testament:

Supposing that the Apostles had left us nothing in writing, should we not still follow the rule of doctrine which they delivered to those to whom they entrusted the churches? This rule many barbarous nations follow, who, being without ink or parchment, have the word of salvation written by the Spirit in their hearts, and guard diligently the tradition which has been delivered.”  –St Irenaeus, Adv. Heres. 1.iii.c.4