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Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth
HarperOne / 2010 / Paperback
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In Heresy historian and theologian McGrath believes that heresy has become fashionable. More than that, contemporary Western society considers it radical and innovative, perhaps even cool. This attitudinal change he sees reflected by the renewed surge of interest in atheism and especially by the popularity of the so-called new atheists Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens and their best-selling antireligious books.
McGrath studies the complicated relations between heresy, orthodoxy, and power, and discusses the unprecedented popularity of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003), placing the novel in the context of a postmodern suspicion of power and the Catholic Church, in particular.
He explains the nature of faith, the origins of the idea of heresy, and the diverse roots of Christian heresy from its earliest forms (Ebionitism, Docetism, Valentinianism) to its later, classic formulations (Arianism, Donatism, Pelagianism). Also, he inspects the cultural and intellectual motivations for the existence of heresy. A penetrating examination by an intellectual powerhouse.
Why the Church must defend the truth.
Our ongoing fascination with alternative Christianities is ondisplay every time a never-before-seen gospel text is revealed,an archaeological discovery about Jesus makes front-page news, or anew work of fiction challenges the very foundations of the church.Now, in a timely corrective to this trend, renowned church historianAlister McGrath examines the history of subversive ideas, overturningcommon misconceptions that heresy is somehow more spiritual orliberating than traditional dogma. In so doing, he presents a powerful,compassionate orthodoxy that will equip the church to meet thechallenge from renewed forms of heresy today.
Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity's Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States.
Alister McGrath helps us understand what heresy is and why it exercises a powerful attraction upon the human mind. It is full of illuminating historical discussions and insights into the motivations that lead people to adopt heresy as a style of life and a personal demeanor.
Not only a riveting story of ancient controversies, but also a much needed and timely correction to the commonly held notion that heretics were mostly free thinkers who challenged a narrow and closed orthodoxy.
-Justo L. González
“Not only a riveting story of ancient controversies, but also a much needed and timely correction to the commonly held notion that heretics were mostly free thinkers who challenged a narrow and closed orthodoxy.”
“Alister McGrath helps us understand what heresy is and why it exercises a powerful attraction upon the human mind. It is full of illuminating historical discussions and insights into the motivations that lead people to adopt heresy as a style of life and a personal demeanor.”
“A penetrating examination by an intellectual powerhouse.”
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