File Size: 770 KB
Print Length: 169 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 29, 2014)
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Holcomb's converted Episcopal theological leanings are clearest when he writes about the Judaizers. Another point in which the Protestant leanings are clear is Holcomb's not mentioning that both Tertullian and Origen, while key church fathers, were both anathematized. Tertullian himself succumbed to the Montanism heresy, which whilst not a Christological dispute, did have serious implications for proto-Catholic/Orthodox views of forgiveness. Origen was anathematized after his universalism, and his unintentional but historical connection to Arianism (whhich Holcomb does actually admit). Finally, using Socinus as a major history is indicative of a relationship to the reformed tradition. While Gloss and Transylvanian Unitarianism does lead to modern Unitarianism and Unitarian-Universalism, this is a minor moment in Christian background whose main ideas can be found in other heretical movements. It, however, is particularly substantial in Reformed history.
Another problem with the book is that a tiny chapter on Gnosticism may be over-ambitious. Gnosticism being such a huge category, and one where there are substantial disagreements in both historical and even orthodox Christian sectors as to what technically belongs to the category. The different issues with Gnosticism are difficult to pin down in such a short chapter. Gnostic tendencies to re-emerge in late antiquity and in the medieval period add to the protean nature of the category.
Still, despite these criticisms, I actually find this book to be honest about what the Orthodox point of view from the perspective of the credal churches--most Simple, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox--actually state they believe. In different age of religious illiteracy in general, this sort of education perspective is important even if one is not only not reformed, but perhaps not even a Christian. It packs a reasonable amount of analysis and history in under two hundred pages, and, for that alone, I provide a high recommendation., This book provides a good, general summary of heretical teachers and movements in church background. The author also takes great pains to emphasize the importance of applying this knowledge to theological discussions today. While we must not label every doctrinal disagreement as heresy, neither should we ignore the reemergence of ancient heresies because we have been ignorant of them and the reaction of historical, orthodox Christianity to them. The book is well footnoted and supplies dialogue questions and ideas for additional reading for those who want to learn more. The book could benefit from a glossary, especially for theological words and definitions of heretical movements and teachers referred to in passing, but not explored in depth., Helpful in identifying the legitimately difficult questions that offered rise to historical heresies and the way the church pushed back, clarifying it's own doctrines in response. Many of the questions are those I've got or I've heard others raise in the church. Succinct and worth the read.
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