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Ben Quash and Michael Ward: Heresies and How to Avoid Them


Ben Quash and Michael Ward, eds., Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why it matters what Christians believe (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 148 pages, ISBN 9781598560138.

Heresy and heresy hunting are the two issues addressed in Heresies and How to Avoid Them by Ben Quash and Michael Ward. With the contributions of several authors, they show the church how to handle truth, and how not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Quash and Ward provide an examination of false teachings throughout the history of the church. They focus on such important issues as the person of Christ and Christian living. Although clear in pointing out the dangers of unorthodox teachings, Quash and Ward urge caution in defending the truth. They warn that orthodoxy can suffer corruption, and even be used as a weapon and become “an excuse for any and every kind of outrage” (P. 136).

Both men have extensive backgrounds in ministry and theology. Quash is an Anglican priest who serves as Dean and Fellow of Peterhouse in the University of Cambridge. He holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of Cambridge. His co-editor, Ward, is also an Anglican priest. He is Chaplain of Peterhouse in the University of Cambridge. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of St. Andrews.

Heresies and How to Avoid Them is a collection of writings that were first delivered as sermons. Like Quash and Ward, most of the contributors are Anglican. However, some of the chapters are written by Roman Catholics, a Quaker, and a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One deals with the person of Christ and covers the heretical doctrines of Arianism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Adoptionism, and Theopaschitism. Part Two focuses on Christian living and covers Marcionism, Donatism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism, Free Spirit, and Biblical Trinitarianism.

In producing this book, Quash writes that his aim is not only to help people avoid heresy and appreciate orthodoxy, but to also take a closer look at heresy and the “what-ifs” of orthodoxy, “so that the pitfalls and limitations of heresies can be better appreciated, and orthodoxy more wholeheartedly celebrated” (p. 9).

The tone of the book can be seen in the foreword that is written by Stanley Hauerwas, a professor. He writes that orthodoxy must not be “used as a hammer to beat into submission those we think heterodox” (not conforming to orthodox belief) (p. x). He argues that it is important that the book does “not demonize the heretics of the past and present” (p. x).

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2010

About the Author: Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a M.A.R. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and B.S. and A.S. degrees from East Coast Bible College, Charlotte, N.C. He is the author of numerous books including F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind “Christ the Healer” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), The Guide to Effective Gospel Tract Ministry (Church Growth Institute, 2004) and Off to War: Franklin Countians in World War II (White Mane Publishing, 1996). His articles have appeared in Refleks Journal, The Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, The Africa Journal of Pentecostal Studies, and in numerous newspapers and popular magazines. He blogs at Roscoe Reporting and shares his F. F. Bosworth research at Professional: Roscoe Barnes III. Twitter: @Roscoebarnes3

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