Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the ChurchHardback
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- Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers Inc
- Format: Hardback | 512 pages
- Dimensions: 150mm x 231mm x 43mm | 885g
- Publication date: 14 April 1998
- Publication City/Country: Massachusetts
- ISBN 10: 1565633652
- ISBN 13: 9781565633650
- Edition statement: $Uper $Aver ed.
- Sales rank: 422,101
The history of Christian theology is in large part a history of heresies, because Jesus and the claims he made . . . seemed incredible," writes the author. Heresies presents "the story of how succeeding generations of Christians through almost twenty centuries have tried to understand, trust, and obey Jesus Christ." Particularly concerned with christology and trinitarianism, the author calls on the four major creeds of the church--Apostles', Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian--to separate orthodoxy from heresy. He acknowledges that heresy has done much more than confuse and divide the church. It has also helped the church to classify orthodoxy. Just as heresy served this purpose historically, so it serves this purpose pedagogically in Heresies. This volume presents a clarion call to evangelicals to preserve tenaciously "the faith once delivered to the saints." Frank E. James III wrote in the "Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society" "Brown deserves to be commended not only for his insightful scholarship and his readable style but also and more importantly for providing a sorely-needed jab to the soft underbelly of modern evangelicalism."
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Harold O.J. Brown, (1933-2007), received his PhD at Harvard University and was professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical International University and author of several books.
A long scholarly survey of theological trouble-making, competent if uninspired. Brown teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Ill.), and he espouses a forthright conservatism. "The history of orthodoxy is the history of the truth" - which means that heretics are villains, because the false doctrine they spread can lead to eternal perdition. And so the defenders of the faith, from Irenaeus to J. G. Machen (and Brown himself), have had to do battle against a never-ending onslaught by Gnostics, Adoptionists, Arians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Pelagians, Bogomils, Socinians, Arminians, etc. To his credit, Brown treats these ideological deviants fairly, and for students of his own persuasion this solidly documented account should be quite useful, supplying the equivalent of two or three demanding college courses. But other readers will object to certain peculiarities of Brown's presentation. For one thing, he fails at the (admittedly difficult) task of tracing a close connection between the New Testament and some of the subtle dogmatic structures (notably in Trinitarian theology) later built on it. He makes the Council of Chalcedon (451) - which proclaimed that Jesus combined two natures, divine and human, in a single person - the supreme bench mark of Christian intellectual history; but he doesn't show why the very Greek distinctions it drew should have such absolute, life-and-death importance. By contrast, Brown devotes relatively little time to modem heterodoxy, viewing thinkers like Schleiermacher and Bultmann as unbelievers rather than true heretics (black sheep, but still in the family). In fact, with theological liberalism so widely triumphant, Brown wonders how much longer mainstream Protestant denominations and even major branches of Roman Catholicism will deserve the name of Christian. A dry but informative manual for anyone old-fashioned enough not to blush or smile ironically at the notion of heresy vs. the eternal verities. (Kirkus Reviews)