Roger Olson is a seminary professor in Central Texas who is also a prolific writer of books which take complicated theological or historical concepts and write them for use in adult Sunday School classes. I (Kristen) hold a degree from the seminary where Olson teaches, as well as have used his books in several classes. I’ve passed them on to people who have questions about Christianity and have kept them on my shelf for future reference. This book is the same.
Olson breaks down first what a heresy actually is – which is a belief persistently believed and taught which goes against the Gospel of Jesus and the triune definition of it the three main sects share: that Jesus is both human and divine, that the Trinity is an equal-opporunity Godhead mystery, and that grace is the means of salvation. After a discussion of both heresy and orthodoxy, Olson explores some of the major historical heretics and heresies of the church as well as their contemporary manifestations.
This book is perfect for a discussion group. Unless you’re familiar with some of the basics of Christian history, it may be a bit daunting to go on your own. Olson is a clear communicator, but he’s still an academic at his core. There are not jokes or funny anecdotes in this and I’m pretty positive the questions at the end of each chapter were written by his publisher and not Olson. However, if you’re interested in this piece of Christian history, I would encourage you to pick up this book. It’s informative, excellently researched and clearly written.
As with all books that make me think, I read this one with coffee as my friend.
- Olson’s page at Baylor University
- Olson’s Wikipedia page
- A seriously well-currated Wikipedia page of Christian heresies with good references to go explore for most of them
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.