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Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church [Hardcover]

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Pages   512
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6" Height: 1.6"
Weight:   1.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 1998
Age  21
ISBN  1565633652  
EAN  9781565633650  

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"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."

Publishers Description
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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More About Harold O. J. Brown

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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."

Harold O. J. Brown was born in 1933.

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A Clarion Call to Revive the Faith once Delivered to the Saints  Apr 18, 2006

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Heresy and Orthodoxy:
Hilary of Poitier expounds St. Paul's words, "Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the written word; and the guilt is by the expositor, not of the text."
Heresies rose up in the church through the centuries and each was met with able faith defenders, like Athanasius, and Cyril of Alexandria, who based their defense for doctrinal truth, on biblical exegesis using philosophy for definitions. Today, the word "Heresy" connotes bygone and forgotten quarrels, and old prejudice, still an emotionally loaded term that has been often misused. Yet, the subject of heresy is of vital importance to the faithful and the church, since heresy in its particular meaning is closely related to Christian doctrine.

Heresy, Schism & Apostasy:
Heresy can be committed only by a baptized Christian. It is more serious than schism, and different from apostasy, or other commitments against 'orthodoxy.' The word 'heresy' comes from hairesis, (Greek; a choice of beliefs.) The expression was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his pamphlet 'Contra Haereses,' describing and discrediting his adversaries in early Christianity. He classifies his position, which represented the early Christian Church belief, as orthodox (straight belief).

Core Orthodox Doctrine:
Central doctrines of Christianity, are those doctrines that constitute the core of Christian faith, making the Church Universal, not sectarian or denominational. Those Central doctrines include the Trinity, the deity of Christ, His bodily resurrection, and atoning work, Salvation by grace through faith. These doctrines do comprise the essence of the Christian faith that to neglect any of them is to make the belief system lacking, not whole. The Gospel teaches that the above core beliefs (Matt. 28:19; John 8:24; 1 Cor. 15; Eph. 2:8-10), are of vital importance since they define the character of Christianity.

History of Ortho/Heterodoxy:
Heresies, retold and explained by Harold Brown, is in his words, 'the story of how succeeding Christian generations, through almost twenty centuries have tried to understand, trust, and obey Jesus Christ."
While Brown followed a logical system to define, explore, and clarify a positive side of heterodoxy in helping to define a more precise Church doctrine, he was primarily concerned with the doctrines of the Trinity & Christology, exploring the major creeds of the church, to help discern orthodoxy from heresy. He asserts that heresy did not only confuse and divide the church, but has, meanwhile, helped theologians to clarify some sloppy philosophical terms, that drew the limitations for the critical domain of orthodox belief.
From a 'Common Ground' he proceeds to the Resurrection and incarnation, to expose Gnosticism and their Christology. Marcion and Montanus thoughts are compared with the Church apologists who formed early teachings, Ireneus, Tertullian, and Origen. After exploring Monarchianism, and Arianism, he discusses the main doctrines of the Trinity, and the person of Christ (Christology).
Election and Free Will were issues of conflict between the Eastern Churches and Rome. He now gives an Anglican view of the use of images, Icons in Byzantium. The Filioque and Eucharistic controversy, not be known to Western Christians, are considered 'New heresies'! Scholasticism lies at the bottom of medieval problems crystallizing in the Inquisition. The Protestant Reformation for the Roman Church a grave heresy, this he treats thoroughly all the way to the Enlightenment that fragmented theology. The theological debut of Browns book is in its last two chapters: A Revival of Orthodoxy? and It's Resurgence and Relapse. Brown gives a concise but clear evaluation of the twentieth Century of Postmodernism.

Harold O. J. Brown is professor emeritus of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. Dr. Brown earned four degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School. He taught courses in Switzerland, and now, at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.
Brown's interests include systematic theology; Bioethics, family values; and political philosophy. He has served on the editorial staff of Human Life Review and editor for Christianity Today, Chronicles, and The Religion & Society Report.
Brown's books include: Christianity and the Class Struggle, Death before Birth.
BigHat57  Aug 21, 2005
What makes this book so interesting is it's method of describing churh history by describing the hereseys the Christian faith has faced over the centuries. The focus is on theology and the development of doctrines, with political and historical events as a backdrop. This approach is refreshing especially for someone who is already familiar with the history of western civilization's events and characters.
The text is very well written and easy to follow, even for a laymen; however, theological nomenclature is a stretch for me. The author does a superb job in conveying the differences, some very slight and technical, in various theological doctrines, and shows how they exist, fade away, and sometimes reemerge under a new age moniker. It's interesting to see how modern man really isn't so modern after all.
I think the most beneficial lesson I take from this book is to understand how orthodoxy is in the original Scripture, and in the beliefs and practices of the Apostles. I am confident the early church fathers passed on the true gospel, and successive generations have defended it sufficiently to be able to discern orthodoxy from heresey. The conclusion that tradition is valid won't sit too well with those inclined toward heresy, no matter what the flavor, and resent being told that the truth is plain and commonly held, not an esoteric knowlege of an elect minority or a grand conspiracy.
An indirect benefit I gained from reading this book is some insight into why there is such distrust amoung some Christians of Alexandrian manuscripts, and Bible translations taken from them. This book shows where heresy tended to flourish in the old empire and where it was staunchly defended. It also shows the subtlety of false doctrine, in case your interested in the perspective of the invisible war.
Lastly, I'm left with the conviction that a simple person of simple faith who lives out the gospel is just as saved as a complicated theologian who spends his time contemplating the mysteries of God.
Too convenient a theory  Feb 22, 2005
Dr. Brown at one point writes, "In a sense, the first heretics were the more sophisticated and more intellectual Christians. They were impatient with the hesitant, gradual attempts of those we now see as orthodox..." Elsewhere, he writes, "Since the early modern era, a number of historians and theologians have tried to demonstrate that the heretics - the innovators, the nonconformists, the protesters - were the truest and best imitators of Christ..." Thus, the book establishes its guidelines. Heretics are smart, sophisticated, impatient and the truest Christians. The notion is a bit too conveniently modern for my taste.

In scope, the book represents a fairly conventional 1980s historiographic tour of Christian controversies. The style is highly interpreted and psychological. Ancient text is rarely allowed to speak for itself. Post World War II archeological discoveries are ignored. The author regularly describes a world without doctrinal diversity: "The first congregations were...", "the first heretics were...", "Gnosticism was a response ..."

I found Dr. Brown's analysis of the first and second centuries the most problematic. Once we start to approach the fourth century the arguments become more 2 dimensional, but one has to wonder if the relatively thoughtless start can do anything but undermine the rest.
We Define Christian Orthodoxy by Heresies  Aug 24, 2004
Heresy presupposes orthodoxy as orthodoxy was there from the beginning. Orthodox in Greek simply means "right-believing" and in ascertaining, studying and defining the breadth of heresies, one gets a better idea of what constitutes the orthodox Christian faith and orthodox doctrine. This book is a chronological church history capturing the theological debates that rocked the church through the centuries.

Brown with a trenchant pen clarifies and defines those damnable heresies that strayed from Biblical Christology from Arianism to Socinianism. Quite naturally, Brown devotes his analysis of early church heresies to various anti-Trinitarian and other damnable heresies that repudiate orthodox Christology. Arianism, Gnosticism, Modalism, Monarchism, Monophysitism, and other heresies are discussed in detail. Gnosticism had its fountainhead in Alexandria, which was awash in Manichean, Dualist, and other eastern belief systems in a psuedo-Christian clothing that denied the humanity and deity of Christ's person as well as his atoning, death, burial and resurrection. Gnostics purported that the God of the Old Testament (i.e. demiurge) to be evil. Today, gnosticism has been long obscured, but is rising in popularity coincidal with a pop culture obsession with the occult. Gnosticism is explicitly anti-Christian in that it latches onto Christian clothing while disavowing all the core tenets of the Gospel. Arianism found its wellspring in the eastern church and is concomitant to the heresy of adoptionism, which disavows the eternality of Christ, and presupposes he was adopted and infused with divinity. This belief acts to undermine his deity.

It's ironic but many modern heretical sects embrace elements of centuries-old heresies and old heresies never really died out, they just took on new names, and new expositors, and new adherents.

Brown surmises that that Reformation Protestantism "could credibly claim to have recovered vital elements of the Gospel and thus be more in accord with the New Testament than Catholicism." Though, continuity and unity of a physical, purportedly apostolic church was supposedly lost, the Gospel was no longer smothered in a sea of sacerdotal ritual and works-righteousness. Europe, however, was fragmented as the success was only partial and the Inquisition violently suppressed Reform efforts in southern Europe. The Reformation was a multi-faceted protest not only against the corruption, and sacramental and liturgical excesses of the medieval church, but it was an affirmation of justification by faith in Pauline-Augustianian mode. Martin Luther characterized "Faith alone" as "the article upon which the church rises of falls." Contrary to Catholic straw man caricatures of Justification by Faith Alone, the doctrine does not entail a faith that is naked, fruitless and devoid of good works. The fruit of saving faith is good works, but good works are not the impetus for justification of the believer, but rather the meritous work of Christ, which is imputed to the believer through faith. Faith in Christ is the instrument of justification. Reformers Luther, Calvin, Beza, Tyndale, and Wycliffe, are all discussed. The Reformation was commensurate with the accords set in Nicaea and Chalcedon. Likewise, Wesley and Arminius are discussed as well. The advent of Arminianism unleashed what I call the Protestant Deformation, because it loses sight of the orthodox Reformation principles articulated by Calvin and Luther. Arminianism is simply semi-Pelagian Romanism stripped of its sacramental and liturgical excesses: both have the same naïve belief in a salvific power to man's will. Supposedly, the natural man can delineate between right and wrong, and choose the path to salvation. Both Arminianism and Romanism give considerable exaltation and glory to man for his salvation; Calvin and Luther being expositors of sovereign unmerited grace give ALL the glory to God. Brown's analysis on Arminianism is rather succinct though he accurately connects some of the early Arminians with the anti-trinitarian Socinians.

Harold O.J. Brown writes from the perspective of a fairly conservative Lutheran. Sometimes Brown is objective in his perspective, and other times I think his assertions are somewhat fanciful or ill conceived. Brown says, "Out of Calvin's rigor and consistency somehow came antitrinitarianism..." I am hard pressed as to why this statement was even made. I do not see how Brown can purport that a Calvin-like insistence of Scriptural consistency lead to the Unitarianism or Tritheism of the various sects in Poland. This is one case of a seriously bad play on words and a false casual connection. Does Scriptural consistency lead to Unitarianism? Let Brown answer that question. All things considered, Heresies is a fairly well developed, and for the most part objective look at heresies through the ages. Objectivity should coincide for orthodoxy and ascertaining the nature of orthodoxy in all its facets has buffeted the minds of theologians for centuries. And so much of church history is simply ascertaining the line between orthodox and heretical. This book is definitely worth reading for the Christian student of theology and church history, but my de rigueur confession is I never finished it. I also recommend The Story of _Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform_ by Roger E. Olson. (I give Heresies a 3.5/5.0 rating.)
A History of Heresies in the Christian Church.  May 11, 2004
_Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church_ by Harold O. J. Brown is an extensive overview of the numerous doctrinal disputes within Christendom from the early Church to the present. Brown writes from the perspective of a conservative Lutheran, which determines the somewhat narrow point of view in some parts of this study. However, the good in this book far outweighs its negativity. Part of the problem when writing about heresy and heresies is the difficulty when defining exactly who the "heretics" are, what doctrines and dogmas are acceptable and which ones are unacceptable and to be categorized as "heretical." Many ultramontane Catholics will consider the entire Protestant Reformation heretical, while conservative, and fundamentalist/evangelical Protestants of various denominations view the central tenants of Catholicism (Mariology, Papal infallibility, literal transubstantiation of the Eucharist, etc). Also, where does Eastern Orthodox Christendom fit in?

The key difference between the ancient heretics and theological liberals of today, notes Brown, is the ancients sincerely believed what they espoused as Christian truth while today's skeptics are wishy-washy nay-sayers. Brown begins by noting the Greek/Hellenistic and Roman/Latin influence in the theological teachings of early Christianity. Many disputes, the most fundamental being the nature of God, the Trinity and the Person of Christ, were outside the material covered in the canonical biblical writings. Instead, theologians used Greek philosophical concepts and complicated language to explain Christian doctrinal concepts as they developed over time. This tendency (beginning with St. Paul) has been heavily criticized by moderns, (both liberal and evangelical/fundamentalist reductionists) as taking away from the original, Semitic contents of the Bible. The first major heresies, in the second, third and fourth centuries AD were those of Gnosticism and Arianism. Gnosticism was a loose collection of different sects teaching elaborate, dualistic cosmologies, and believing Christ was a being who illuminated mankind and brought freedom from the supposedly evil god of the Old Testament (Demiurge) creator of the material world. Gnosticism and its "knowledge (gnosis) falsely so called" was refuted by Ireneaus of Lyons, one of the first great theologians. Indeed, the process of formulating "Orthodox" Christian doctrine has been somewhat of a "dialectical process," as another reviewer notes, of an arising heresy followed by an Orthodox response and official definition. Ironically, the two other greatest defenders of Orthodox Christianity during the early Church period, Tertullian and Origen, later left the Church (Tertullian) and promoted some questionable doctrines, as Origen did when he speculated on the pre-existence of human souls. The Arians (named after Arius, a renegade priest) were a splinter group from Orthodox Christianity who believed that the Jesus Christ, the Son, was the greatest created being of God the father-not of the same nature as the Father. Constantine summoned the first Ecumenical Council to promote Christian unity at Nicea, and formally defined God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as all different persons of the same God. However, Constantine himself and a number of his successors tended to support the Arian position. Almost the sole defender of Christian Orthodoxy, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, led the battle at Nicea-Athanasius _contra mundi_, i.e., against the world.

The second phase concerned the nature of Christ and spawned the controversies of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople and the Monophysites of Alexandria. Nestorius focused on the human nature of Christ and did not want the use of "Theotokos" (strictly translated from Greek to English means "bearer of God," NOT "mother of God.") as a formal title for the Virgin Mary. The prelates of Alexandria, notably Cyril, who stressed Christ's divine nature, opposed Nestorius. A subsequent council condemned Nestorius. His followers broke off to form the "Nestorian" Church or Church of the East, which spread from Mesopotamia and Persia even as far as China by its missionaries. The next controversy arose during the fifth century and centered on around the political posturing of the Empire's four great cities: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch. The primary dispute was between Antioch's theologians and Alexandria. Rome, Brown notes, at this time remained the most doctrinally Orthodox as it was removed from Christianity's center of gravity in the Greek speaking empire during this period, lacking the cosmopolitan theological innovators of the East. The outcome of this fourth council, Chalcedon, according to Brown, tended to lean back towards the "Nestorian" view of Christ with its doctrine Christ's human and divine nature. Alexandria, which triumphed during the early stages of this conflict, suffered a reversal. The Egyptian (Coptic) Church broke off from the official Church of the Roman Empire and Constantinople, forming the Oriental Orthodox Church, which has its branches in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria, Armenia and India. However, Nestorians and Monophysites (who maintained that Christ only had a divine nature) remain within Orthodox theology, unlike the Gnostics, Arians and the later Manicheans, Bogomils and Cathars.

During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church experienced a schism because of theological and political controversies. The Roman Papacy assumed the status of a temporal power in Italy. The worldly corruption of the Roman Church, its sale of indulgences, and it's doctrine of literal transubstantiation officially formulated during the 1200s all gave impetus for the coming Protestant Reformation of the early 1500s. But after the Reformation, who is to be considered a heretic? Brown admits that it is much easier for a Protestant polemicist to use the invective "antichrist" to describe the pope rather than "heretic." Here is where the shortfalls of a Protestant outlook come into play. It ignores the Orthodox Church, which kept the original faith "once delivered to the saints." Brown also notes the main issue with "Pietism" that arose during the 1700s in England and Germany. Pietism is doctrinally orthodox, but places its emphasis on personal conversion and personal faith experience. In the long run it looses its objectivity when it comes to actual doctrine and polemics against attacks on Christianity by today's forces of secularism and liberalism.


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