Book review: Heretics for Armchair Theologians

by Justo L. and Catherine Gunsalus Gonzalez, illustrations by Ron Hill

★★★★★

An excellent little book covering the major “heretics” of the first five centuries. The authors do not try to present these men as evil or anti-Christian at all. On the contrary, they were sincere people trying to understand the Christian faith in their own context, asking important questions and seeking to lead others to what they took to be a fuller understanding of the Gospel. The authors eventually describe a “heretic” as a person who carries one truth about God too far, such that it distorts other doctrine. For example, who can comprehend the Trinity? The divine mystery gets out of balance by focusing too heavily on any one aspect.

You’ll see how Marcion’s early ideas shaped Christianity; heretical views did serve a role in sharpening Christian theology. You’ll learn how Augustine battled Pelagius. You’ll learn about the Ebionites, Docetists, Gnostics, and Montanists. You’ll learn how Christology developed and the Trinitarian battles, which the authors explain with a cute baseball analogy.

All of this is extremely well-written, informative yet friendly. The book goes into just enough theology as necessary to paint a descriptive picture of each Christian offshoot. Very highly recommended and fun to read.

Westminster John Knox Press, © 2008

ISBN: 978-0-664-23205-4

Reviewed on Logos Bible Software

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