Nevertheless, in this book, heresy is essentially defined as everything that contrasts this authors particular view of orthodoxy. Even though the author is attempting to portray heresy as something to be feared as cruel, he has nevertheless accomplished the opposite: demonstrating that orthodoxy is nothing less than a synthesis from fascinating heretical dialectic about the phenomenon of Christ. When the creeds are accepted as correct or orthodox almost immediately orthodox behavior begins to demand assent to the creeds rather than yes to the God to whom the creeds point, and thus a new heresy is born from correct orthodoxy. We have to remember that, just as the processes of heresy formed the ladders by which we ascended to orthodoxy, so the mental processes of modern seekers, who must gain personal affirmation for their beliefs, are vital and necessary for authentic faith. Who are we, as mere men, to define God, define Jesus, and suggest that, through orthodoxy, we have arrived at a set of static definitions that endure forever? The author too quickly dismisses the empowerment of orthodoxy by the Romans, stating in the introduction that this: reflects not so much a concern for truth as an interest in the way groups use powers. What Christ wanted us to grasp is the infinity of God that is beyond the ramblings of human religious theologians. The author seeks to contradict Sabellianism by mentioning that in scripture Jesus prays to the Father, thus introducing a differentiation. Conversely, orthodoxy contends God and Christ are of one substance. The author contends that, if Christ and God are not of the same substance, then humanity is not yet reconciled to God; but this contradicts his refutation of Sabellianism, wherein he contended separateness by virtue of the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father. To pull himself out of this quagmire, the author seeks to explain the orthodox position by using the example that a man and woman are particular persons who share a common humanity, suggesting that humanity implies a general undifferentiated reality (God), whereas the particular realities are man and woman (Christ and Holy Spirit). Religious problems arise when humans are arrogant enough to perceive themselves capable of understanding and grasping the full extent of Gods manifestations, which extend infinitely beyond us. The orthodox issue with this is that only a portion of the humanness of Christ becomes unified with God. Orthodoxy saw the necessity for preserving Jesus complete human nature in order for redemption to be fully transmitted to mankind. The author provides an example of modern Apollinarianism in the Christian who beseechs one to not ask questions but just have faith, as if ones mind must be left outside the church. This is a perception of the human Christ evolving into divine spirit by spiritual growth or metamorphosis. Adoptionism accepts Christ as an example to follow. Adoptionists see Jesus baptism as a kind of knighting ceremony in which some measure of divinity is conferred as a result of Gods being well pleased with Him. Adoptionists suggest that the deity grew by gradual progress out of humanity. Attempting to gain a state of righteousness without God is a normal part of the journey in spiritual development that all must meander before gaining true realization that all things are given by grace and we only truly advance in concert with God. Jesus provided a complete example for us: Jesus was baptized, prayed, suffered and ministered via empowerment of the Father. Forms of Adoptionism are listed in the paragraphs that follow: Ebionism The Ebionites accepted Jesus as Messiah but rejected his initial divine sonship. Here the author misses the greatest of Christs examples which is his constant prayer to the Father, by which process Jesus was empowered. The author perceives something more than this which he attributes to orthodoxy and which is indeed a magical sort of redemption that he believes comes from simply accepting Christ as savior, a process that he likely believes must entail the abandonment of logic and reason. The authors very valid point that human striving is heresy is negated by the joyful emulation of Christ that occurs via strength gleaned from the Father in prayer. Nestorianism Nestorians asserted both the humanity and divinity of Christ; but were accused for denying the unity by saying unity is not essential. A proponent of Nestorianism was Theodore of the Maronites , who objected to calling The Virgin Mary theotokos, meaning bearer of God. Nestorians accepted that the full humanity of Christ was born of Mary but not the divine logos. The Nestorians believed the humanity and logos became unified by the will; but orthodoxy insists on the term theotokos as implying ontological union from conception (Hence arises the veneration of Mary.
Allison covers the various heresies that arose in the early church. If you want a good overview of heresies and orthodoxy, this is not a bad book. In other words, this is worth reading (especially if you get a cheap used copy), but I'd recommend other books first.