by Tami Jelinek
(updated and expanded, May 2013)
During my first semester of seminary in the Spring of 2011, I wrote a “Credo” for my Intro to Theology class, the purpose of which was to briefly and concisely articulate my personal theology. This “Credo,” written for my Systematic Theology class in the Spring of 2013, is an expansion of that original paper, which in addition to rounding out my own subjective statement in a few areas, also engages more views of theologians throughout church history, and acknowledges points where tradition and orthodoxy are in tension with some of my own views. In this way, this paper seeks to be both a subjective and an objective representation of my understanding of the Christian faith at this juncture in my own faith journey.
This Credo is a constructive “I believe” statement articulating my current understanding of the Christian faith, informed by my study of the Scripture, in conjunction with, and occasionally in opposition to or in tension with the historical Christian faith as taught by the early church fathers, the Creed of the church, and theologians throughout history. While my own understanding of the Christian faith does not always fall within the bounds of church “orthodoxy,” neither did the understanding and teaching of many reformers throughout church history. John Calvin, for example, would have been anathematized by most if not all of the early church fathers for his views on the Eucharist, but few modern theologians would place him outside of the Christian faith for those views. Furthermore, reformed theologians today almost universally deny the salvific efficacy of water baptism, placing them outside of orthodoxy as defined by the Creed, and yet few theologians today would consider their faith other than “Christian.” In cases where my own understanding breaks with church tradition, or would be considered heterodox by creedal standards, my appeal is to Scripture, which I cite extensively. With that said, this statement represents my current—and may it be always reforming—understanding of the Christian faith, a faith I share with all those who are pursuing the glory of God through his Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Spirit.
The question may arise, what then is “heresy?” Is there such a thing? If the early church fathers who taught that the only way to guard against heresy was to submit to the authority of church tradition in their own time (a standard by which all reformers from the 16th century forward would have been damned, as well as all Protestants today), then what is our standard for determining what is “Christian?” In his discussion of “Orthodoxy and Heresy,” Alister McGrath quotes F.D.E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who argues in his Christian Faith that since Christianity is based upon the belief that redemption is found only in Christ, “there will be two ways in which heresy can arise...either human nature will be so defined that redemption in the strict case cannot be accomplished or the Redeemer will be defined in such a way that he cannot accomplish redemption.” In other words, McGrath summarizes: “it is essential that the Christian understanding of God, Christ, and humanity is consistent with the principle of redemption through Christ alone.” I deeply appreciate Schleiermacher’s position here. When I consider what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other religions, it is its central focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ—and the Mercy promised to Israel’s fathers and performed by the cross, which the apostle Paul said was his only “glory.”
 See Tami Jelinek, “The Creed vs. The Scripture: Living with the Tension,” For Heaven’s Sake, http://www.4heavenssake.org/2/post/2012/10/the-creed-vs-the-scripture-living-with-the-tension.html (accessed May 1, 2013).
 “The Creed” is used here as a singular reference to the collective creeds of the church throughout history.
 See Ward Fenley, “The Eucharist: The Church Fathers vs. John Calvin (Different Views or Damnable Heresy?)” New Creation Ministries International, http://www.newcreationministries.tv/church-fathers-vs-calvin-on-the-eucharist.html (accessed May 1, 2013).
 For example, The Nicene Creed acknowledges “one baptism for the remission of sins” and this has commonly been understood throughout church history as a reference to water baptism.
 Irenaeus (130-200) writes, “There is no need to look anywhere else for the truth which we can easily obtain from the church.” See Alister E. McGrath, ed., The Christian Theology Reader, 3rd ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006), 79.
 Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 5th ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 114.
 Cf. Luke 1:72; Galatians 6:14.
Tami Jelinek holds a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Tami and her husband of twenty-nine years, Keith, reside in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They have three grown children. Tami’s personal passion is theology: the knowledge and experience of the Truth and Mercy found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and displayed in the lives and communion of His people. Exploring portraits of Christ and His kingdom in the Old Testament is the primary focus of her studies. Tami is active in various service projects with non-profit human service agencies in the Detroit area. Tami and Keith also love to travel, and fill their home with friends and family who share their fondness for good food, good wine, and great conversation.
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