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Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity Paperback – Feb 1989

3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Scroll Pub Co (February 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0924722002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0924722004
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.1 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Early Christianity was a revolution that swept through the ancient world like fire through dry timber," challenging traditional customs and institutions. The author contends that the early Church's stance toward society should concern us deeply, as we face many similar burning issues: divorce, abortion, entertainment, war, economic injustice, and the role of men/women.

Bercot, who is also a lawyer, takes the reader on a very stimulating journey in which we meet Polycarp (who was personally discipled by the apostle John) and other second-century witnesses. -- The Plough, April, 1990

Perhaps the single most important thing the book did for me was to introduce me in an unforgettable way to the early Christian writings. ...However, the author, David Bercot, does more than introduce the reader to the early Christians and their writings he advances a powerful and persuasive argument as to why we should take the early Christians and their writings seriously. This argument is basically similar to saying that the further upstream you go, the purer the waters should be. He makes a convincing case that these early Christian writers were in the best possible position to interpret and understand what the inspired writers had in mind when they wrote the New Testament. After all, some of these early Christian leaders were co-workers with the apostles and knew them personally. It is logical that they had a real advantage over us who read the Bible after nearly 2,000 years. -- Family Life, October, 1989

To say this book packs a jolt is an understatement. Bercot doesn't point fingers; he just tells it like it is, and no book other than Snyder's The Problem of Wineskins has affected my thinking of the church more than this one. This book has my highest recommendations. -- The Obligator, August, 1989

We've heard it all before. The church's decline began when Constantine named Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. David Bercot recounts all this and more. He is deeply concerned with the church's lack of spirituality. He is upset that the church has adopted worldly standards of success rapid growth and wealth. He is right in feeling and expressing these concerns. And he expresses them well. -- Bookstore Journal, November, 1989

From the Back Cover

Sex and money scandals. An exploding divorce ate. Drug-addicted youths. And an ever-growing worldliness. Today's church is fighting battles on all fronts. And we seem to be losing these battles to the relentlessly encroaching world. Perhaps the answers to our problems are not in the present, but in the past. Because there was a time when the church was able to stand up to the world. The author takes you on an engrossing journey back to that time back to the beginning of the second century. Here is an inspiring account of what Christians believed and practiced at the close of the age of the apostles and how the church eventually lost the Christianity of that time.

But this is not primarily a history book. It's a fresh, creative look at the problems facing the church today and the solution to those problems. It's a call for today's church to return to the simple holiness, unfailing love, and patient cross-bearing of the early Christians.

Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up combines sound scholarship with a free-flowing, readable style designed for contemporary laypersons. If you're looking for superficial solutions to today's problems or a restatement of traditional answers, you will need to look elsewhere. This provocative book confronts traditional answers and challenges you to a deeper walk with God the walk of the early Christians.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book just as my conversion began. I was with a group who assumed that their doctrines were pure, and that the doctrines and practices of other groups were more or less corrupt. It was assumed that we were a re-establishment of the New Testament Church. I could have quoted you scriptures to defend every belief we had, and summon ones to dismiss every "error" anyone else had. Eventually I asked the obvious question - "if we've got the Truth, why aren't others coming here, and how did things get to be this bad? How did they go wrong?" I wanted a detailed answer, one that quoted texts that chronicled the supposed decline, rather than hearing someone else narrate to me with their own voice, from their own authority what they were told happened, or what they read some author claim had happened. After reading this book, I was forced to concede to the weight of the case made by Bercot, but like Bercot, I conceded happily (Matt.13:44-46).
In the beginning section of the book, he fleshes out the vision of the Christians who were instructed by the Apostles, and those who were trained by them in turn. He quotes from their writings and gives you footnotes to follow. Their discipleship was so noble and rugged, I was immediately enthralled by them. He details how the Church before Constantine (before A.D.325) lived out it's life of discipleship, and compares it to present-day movements.
The middle section details some central doctrines that the early Church universally believed. And he doesn't do this selectively, quoting only from writings that support his portrait - he only presents a doctrine as being part of the early Church's teachings if he has found support for it from something like five different writers from five different continents across three centuries.
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Format: Paperback
David Bercot is an Anglican priest and an attorney. He is good at argument and presents some interesting points from some very early Christians. However, it becomes clear toward the end of the book that this man does have a strong bias and is not really attempting to be objective in his claims of Christianity from the time of Constantine onward. Here are just a few examples:
1. He claims that icons were "a practice utterly loathsome to early Christians" on page 129. Yet, the footnote is empty (omitted, as a type-o); in cross-reference with his "Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs", most of his support comes from a now Montanistic Tertullian.
2. On page 128 seems to assert that the use of Relics did not occur until Helen "started... relic mania."
3. Chapter 14 brushes over Arianism as if the subject of Christ's divinity was more a matter of personal opinion than a serious issue that warranted a Church Council (which, incidentally, has precedence in scripture in Acts 15... another fact conveniently ignored by the author).
4. Chapters 17 and 18 simply ignore that Eastern Orthodoxy even exists; this is not an appropriate oversight!
5. Chapter 19 reveals the liberal protestant aim of the author in that we need "unity in the essentials" and "diversity in the non-essentials" since that is the way "the early Christians" were.
After reading it, I am much more skeptical about his assertions in the beginning of the book because the author has not demonstrated that he can present an objective argument. This is a great read for people looking to support an anti-Roman Catholic or anti-Orthodox bent though. If this is what you are looking for, then by all means, buy it!
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Format: Paperback
If this book does nothing more then spur you on to learning more about Church history and theology, then it will be worth reading.
If it causes you to think carefully about what you believe, why you believe it, and what sources you get your beliefs from, then that would be even more valuable.
However, if this book causes you to believe what the author is saying, then God help you...literally.
After reading this book, I did my standard research, looking for dissenting opinions. There are not very many out there, and there has not yet been a concerted effort to counter the claims of Bercot. I found only one book length review, of dubious authorship, which detailed the many factual and theological errors made by Bercot. It also alleges a Jehovah's Witness and Gnostic agenda on the part of Bercot. I am not completely convinced, however, the factual errors alone give me great pause as to trusting much of anything he claims.
The best thing that has resulted from reading it has been a deep searching of my own beliefs, and a strong desire to research early Christian history and literature. I am not at all convinced I will come to the same conclusions as Bercot, and I suggest that you should not take his word for it either. Do your own research.
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Format: Paperback
David Bercot has written a book that grabs your attention from the start and make Christians of any bent ask how their life compares with the non-Christian world. Bercot discusses early Christian views of entertainment and war. He concludes that the early Christians would have never approved of many movies that are produced today nor would they have gone to war to fight for their country, though it appears that some early believers did remain in the army after baptism, but evidently refused to take up arms against enemy nations. One weakness to Bercot's book, however, is that his arguments are condensed and he sometimes fail to examine the context of a given utterance made by a certain church father. Thus, he does not discern that the idolatrous nature of the Roman army also played a part in early Christian pacifism as well as the way Christians exegeted Isa 2:1-4. All in all, Bercot's book is a nice read. Just don't depend on it for serious historical analyses or in-depth and rigorous documented accounts.
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