Is there a dictionary of heresies?

by
24 October 2014

iStock

How can I learn about the various "heresies" that have arisen in the Christian Church during its 2000-year-old life? Is there a . . . Dictionary of Heresies?

In my pocket-sized book A Basic Christian Dictionary (Canterbury Press), there is a necessarily brief article on Heresies, which divides them into those that over-emphasise one Person of the Trinity; deny the unity of the three Persons; deny the equality of the three Persons, or deny the separateness of the Persons; deny the unity/divinity of the Son; and deny the need for grace in salvation.

Up to five examples in each group are named and described, and some of them have brief entries elsewhere in my book.

To take it further, you could search for each heresy on the internet, or look it up in Christianity: The complete guide (John Bowden), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone), or similar weighty volumes; or even in a secular encyclopaedia.

The Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties, and Schools of Religious Thought by John Henry Blunt was published in 1874, and a facsimile reprint is available in paperback or on Kindle, but it is bafflingly comprehensive.

(The Revd) Michael Counsell Northfield, Birmingham

May I recommend Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why it matters what Christians believe, edited by Ben Quash and Michael Ward (SPCK, 2007). It covers all the great heresies, and, since it is based on a series of sermons, the issues are clearly and thoroughly explored.

Frank Conley (Reader)
Folkestone, Kent

Dictionaries of the Christian Church and books on Christian theology contain useful articles on the various heresies. But, for a more detailed explanation, try to get hold of the book The Four Great Heresies (Nestorian, Eutychian, Apollinarian, Arian) by J. W. C. Wand, DD (Mowbray, 1955). While there may be other, more recent writings on the subject, Bishop Wand's book - derived from his 1954 Lent Lectures - is both clear and highly readable.

Advertisement

Alison Rollin, Ruislip

I think that Archbishop Michael Ramsey was asked that question and replied "Hymns Ancient and Modern."

(The Very Revd) Mark Bonney, Ely

[In Trevor Beeson's Round the Church in Fifty Years (SCM Press, 2007), it is the 1969 supplement 100 Hymns for Today that is the butt of Ramsey's joke. Editor]

 

Why has the Feast of Christ the King, which apparently originated as recently as 1925, risen to such prominence? Was it devised (partly) in order to rehabilitate the idea and the institution of monarchy after the cataclysm of the First World War?

J. M.

Research by my husband's family into their ancestors has produced a copy of a marriage certificate from 1880. Four witnesses are named, two of them family members, judging by their surnames. Two other witnesses' names are written in smaller writing, their names not corresponding to those of bride or groom - but underneath the lower name are the words in brackets "Nepromucent Barton". Barton is the bridegroom's name, but what would Nepromucent mean?

M. A. E. B.

A late acquaintance of mine, a minor canon of St Paul's, some 45 years ago described himself as Minor Canon and Senior Cardinal. The incumbent of St Magnus the Martyr, in the City of London, describes himself as Cardinal Rector. What, please, is the significance of the term "Cardinal" herewith? Clearly it has no connection with current usage.

R. W. C.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.

questions@churchtimes.co.uk

We ask readers not to send us letters for forwarding.

Latest Cartoon

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)