The following five books make up this quarter’s selection of Choice Books—those special titles CHRISTIANITY TODAY feels are worthy of a thoughtful second look. They are provided as a starting point from which to begin your own pursuit of the best in today’s writing—and thinking.

Heresies, by Harold O. J. Brown (Doubleday & Company, 1984, 477 pp.; $17.95)

Prof. Harold O. J. Brown sets his 477-page discussion of heresies against the backdrop of the four creeds historically accepted by believers: Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian. Throughout history, Brown says, when people have been unable to accept these specific statements of belief—and yet have been equally unwilling to abandon their allegiances to Jesus—heretical doctrines have resulted that were espoused openly by literally millions of people.

Among these heretics were: the Gnostics, who accepted Jesus as Savior of the world yet incorporated into their beliefs a mystical spectrum of nonbiblical ideas of Near East origin; the Modalists, who upheld the deity of Jesus yet abandoned the diversity of persons within the Godhead; the Monophysites, who insisted that Jesus could not have had two distinct natures; and the Bogomils, who taught that God was supreme and a totally spiritual being, but that he had two sons: Satanael, the elder, and Jesus, the younger.

Heresies leaves the reader with sharp portraits of these heretics, as well as historical glimpses of heresy fighters, reformers, and the meanings of orthodoxy, and it shows how each fits into the overall picture of Christianity’s history

Five terms best define the nature of this hefty book and the shades of the author’s scholarship. First, the book presents a realistic perspective on the larger effects of heresy. ...

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