History and Heresy: How Historical Forces Can Create Doctrinal Conflicts
Hornbeck, J. Patrick, II, Theological Studies
HISTORY AND HERESY: HOW HISTORICAL FORCES CAN CREATE DOCTRINAL CONFLICTS. By Joseph F. Kelly. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2012. Pp. xi + 215. $29.95.
Despite polemicists' efforts to argue otherwise, heresies do not stand outside time, beguiling Christians with theological temptations and the promise of secret knowledge. Instead, every heresy has a history, and that history is inextricably bound up with the constellation of social, cultural, and political forces unique to the time of its rise to prominence. This, in a nutshell, is the argument of Kelly's monograph, which dedicates a chapter to each of five heresies and their contexts: Montanism in the early church, Monophysitism in the age of the christological councils, Catharism in the Middle Ages, Modernism in late-19th- and early-20th-century Roman Catholicism, and analogous forms of Modernism in Protestantism.
K.'s project is valuable: as he notes in the analytical chapters bracketing his case studies, heresy is often misunderstood by contemporary Christians and by those encountering Christianity from the outside. With the possible exception of Modernism, the heresies he has chosen effectively illustrate his argument, covering the breadth of Christian history.
However, the book disappoints on several significant fronts. …