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The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy

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Ancient heresies have modern expressions that influence our churches and culture, creating cruel dilemmas for today’s Christian in the form of error, sin, and various distortions on orthodox faith. In Cruelty of Heresy, Bishop Allison captures the drama and relevance of the Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries and shows how the remarkable achievements of these early struggles provide valuable guidelines for believers today.

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Key Features

  • A thoughtful blend of detailed history and pastoral insight
  • Provides a striking account of the remarkable achievements of the Early Church Councils
  • Demonstrates how heresy is more than simply errors in knowledge


  • Introduction
  • Short Beds and Narrow Blankets
  • Attacks on Christian Faith
  • The Trinity
  • Arianism: The Three Deities
  • The Cappadocians
  • Apollinarianism
  • Nestorianism: The Train of Salvation
  • Eutychianism: The Religious Withering of Humanity
  • A Rectitude of the Heart
  • Orthodoxy and Pagan Religions Revived

Praise for the Print Edition

This book argues that the reigning orthodoxies of our day are largely updated versions of cruelly deceptive understandings of Christianity, rejected by the church in the first centuries...It is, in effect, an interestingly written history of Christian doctrine combined with an analysis of the present religious situation, which is both accessible to the general reader and stimulating to specialists.

—George Lindbeck, Pitkin Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology, Yale University

[Allison] blends the learning of a church historian with the experience of a pastor to produce a book that is both intellectually stimulating and spiritually enriching...[Allison uses his] delightful ability to shed light on a puzzling argument by the insertion of a vignette from contemporary life...establishes a clear theological perspective from which to understand the intellectual and spiritual roots of real human problems.

—Richard H. Belser, reviewing for Jubilate Deo, February 1994

Enlivened by anecdote, and marked by a willingness to name names, The Cruelty of Heresy should be welcomed as substantial teaching from a bishop worthy of his historic office...He shows that heresy is not only a matter of the mind but of the heart and the will, with disastrous consequences for the moral and spiritual life.

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Robert E. Cushman Professor of Christian Theology, Duke University

Product Details

About C. FitzSimons Allison

C. FitzSimons Allison is Bishop of South Carolina, retired, and former rector of Grace Church, New York City. He is the author of The Rise of Moralism, Fear, Love, and Worship, as well as Guilt, Anger, and God. He is also Honorary American Canon of St. Andrew?s Cathedral, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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  1. Glenn Crouch

    Glenn Crouch


    This is a good book for not only understanding what are heresies, but also for an introduction to Christian doctrine. Covering areas like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the Atonement is a good reminder for us all. Whilst I realise the division between Alexandria and Antioch is a useful tool for the swinging extremes Christian History has gone through, I did feel at the times that the Author was unjustly painting all Alexandrians (and Antiochians) with the same brush. For example he does make some comments about Cyril of Alexandria in passing with no reference or justification, that I found to be quite unfair. That the book is 25 years old is also apparent in some of the “current” issues being discussed and comments made. Of course, this has no bearing on the coverage of the first 5 centuries of Christian thought. I enjoyed his coverage of Church Councils and of the resultant Creeds - and once again this book is a good introduction to them :)