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Return to Book Page. The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc. Here the great Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc analyzes 5 of the greatest heresies of all time: Arianism, Mohammedanism Islam , Albigensianism, Protestantism, and "the Modern Attack," showing that the world would be vastly different today if Arianism or Albigensianism had survived--and how it is different because Protestantism survived.
He predicts the re-emergence of I Here the great Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc analyzes 5 of the greatest heresies of all time: Arianism, Mohammedanism Islam , Albigensianism, Protestantism, and "the Modern Attack," showing that the world would be vastly different today if Arianism or Albigensianism had survived--and how it is different because Protestantism survived.
He predicts the re-emergence of Islam; explains how the Modern Attack is the worst threat to the Catholic Church ever. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Great Heresies , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Great Heresies. Aug 03, Ben rated it it was amazing. Another eye opening history from a very readable writer. Hilaire Belloc was half English, half French, a one time MP and a prolific writer known as "the man who wrote a library".
Fortunately he did so in small volumes often broken down into self-contained chapters or essays, and wrote them very well, not only in content and structure but also with great wit and precision of language.
The size of his works belie the wealth of fact and insight they contain. The five Heresies which Belloc considors are issues upon which the history of the World hinged, and so in explaining them he explains in part something of the world today, and how and why it is as it is when it could have been extremely different.
His considoration of Islam back in the late 's early 's seems almost prescient or prophetic when read today. Though of course it was due to his historical knowlege and clear thinking, and a rejection of the confident attitude of racial and cultural superiority of his time. He clearly predicted that Islam would once again gain in strength and influence to be an important force in the world.
Adam Shaw's earlier review, though it could be said to be mostly true is misleading and less than helpfull. Yes Hilaire Belloc was Catholic, and very proud of the fact. He wrote as a Catholic, not hiding his bias and making no false claims to being impartial or without prior opinion, thus allowing all his readers to follow his thoughts with open eyes and a questioning mind. He was not afraid of holding a position and defending it, not afraid of debate, as his life well shows.
If you are bigotted enough not to read him because of his Faith he himself would have been glad you have nothing to do with him. He was angry about many things as any rational man or woman who truely looks at the world around them will be, whatever time they live in. He was especially angry about the unadmitted and unacknowledged anti-Catholic bias in the officailly accepted Whig version of History. So much of his Historical work was and still is a reply to it from someone on the other side of the debate about what happened in the past to bring us to the present, and how and why.
Bare in mind whilst reading that he was a man of his time, before political correctness and the timidity of openly declared personal opinion which it has been one of it's fruits.
Though free of many of the prejudices of his day, like anyone he was not free of them all, remember; nor are you. Also remember that Catholic enfranchisement was an issue not so far in the past as it is today and was one on which people had very strong views. If i have not been clear above, i clearly state now that I thoroughly recommend this book.
May 22, Manuel Alfonseca rated it really liked it. Very good historical review of the five great heresies against the Catholic Church along its history: 1.
Arianism, taken as a typical heresy of the first centuries that denied one or two important Catholic beliefs but kept the others. Islam, which started as a simplification of Catholic tenets that started outside the Catholic realm, and ended as a separate religion.
One of the most lucid historical treatments of Islam I have read, sometimes almost prophetic. Albigensians Catharism , a reviv Very good historical review of the five great heresies against the Catholic Church along its history: 1. Although Belloc does not mention it, the current attempt by nationalist Catalonians to defend them is just a show of historical ignorance. Protestantism especially Calvinism , which rather than a typical heresy is a bunch of different denials of different basic Catholic tenets, its different branches united by a common hate to Catholicism.
Although this has changed somewhat since Belloc wrote the book , some sediment of this can be observed even now 5. The present attack against Catholicism by the dominant ideology. This chapter could have been written now.
Things are now much worse than when the book was written, but all the trends signaled in the book are quite visible now. Jan 30, Matei rated it it was ok Shelves: religion. I wanted to like this book, but sadly Belloch climbs his high horse in the introduction, and never quite makes up for it throughout the book. It reads like apologetics, with simplified arguments, relying heavily on cheap rhetoric like repeating the same point over and over again in different forms to emphasize an idea, but the method of apologetic writing is presenting a religious worldview, using secular arguments, thereby approaching I wanted to like this book, but sadly Belloch climbs his high horse in the introduction, and never quite makes up for it throughout the book.
It reads like apologetics, with simplified arguments, relying heavily on cheap rhetoric like repeating the same point over and over again in different forms to emphasize an idea, but the method of apologetic writing is presenting a religious worldview, using secular arguments, thereby approaching and solving any objections the reader might have.
Belloch just regurgitates laughably biased views, without any regard nor discipline for the line of reasoning he is presenting. It feels more like a book that Catholics are supposed to read for a brief moment of self-indulgence and -righteousness. The first heresy tackled is Arianism. It almost reads like a meme posting: a brave, smart, pious, humble Catholic was sitting in a class taught by a selfish, arrogant and crazy follower of Arius, etc etc.
Causes of heresy are laughably overgeneralized. In fact, the situation he is presenting is completely reversed when dealing with modernism, something he acknowledges in passing too little, too late, in the final pages of the book.
The arguments always cut both ways, but this is never addressed and never justified. Ok, moving on, Islam. Er, the Mohammedan heresy. So treating Islam as a heretical movement which sprang out of Christianity brings its own questions, which again never get an answer.
Are we right then to distance ourselves from Judaism, the way the Church veered under Paulinian influence? These questions need to be answered for Bellochs arguments to work.
A similar issue arises out of calling Islam an inherently violent religion. Critics may very well point out towards all the violence that was waged in the name of Catholicism? This needs to be addressed. Also, his criticism toward Mohammed could very well be applied to Jesus by an atheist critics, especially considering C.
S Lewis lemma that He was either who He said He was, or a complete madman. Now Belloch is praised for being quite prescient in predicting the current rise of Islam which will seek to dominate the Christian world. I have three problems with this: 1. The religious reemergence in the Middle East was not as predicted a movement against the dominating colonial powers, but against the weak secular governments established after european countries decided to mingle in affairs by proxy rather than directly.
Therefore strife was channelled towards these failed states rather than against Christianity. The demographic changes in Europe are a by-product of the Muslim minority being stuck in an immigrant condition, sharing a lifestyle and culture with the working class, which generally has a higher birthrate than the middle class majority. Violent, fundamentalist Islamic movements are characterised by being seen as heretical by all Muslim outsiders.
I think Belloch would agree that it is strange to judge a faith based on its heresies. Albigensian chapter was ok, but went downhill fast at the end when he began once more to withhold information and manipulate how the narrative is presented to drive his point home. The failures of the Catholic Church in Languedoc had important contributions to the resulting spread of the heresy the all familiar material abuses, conflated with improper wielding of power. There is also a very important discussion to be had about the human life loss that resulted from the Albigensian Crusade.
Without these things his arguments are very weak if not outright meaningless. Reformation is better still. It is rather sad that though they are enumerated, they are never contextualized within each heretical movement and its response. Some issues are ignored such as the necessity of reformers to involve secular powers, lest they are completely destroyed by a Church unwilling to change and adapt.
The Great Heresies
For no reason that is fully clear to me, I have always been fascinated by heresies. It matters to me what the difference between a Monothelite and a Monophysite is. Instead, it is a survey of five exemplars of heresies, from earliest Christian times to the modern age, and a two-pronged argument. The two arguments are, first, that that these five encompass all possible basic material variations from true Christian belief.
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Like most modern words, "Heresy" is used both vaguely and diversely. It is used vaguely because the modern mind is as averse to precision in ideas as it is enamored of precision in measurement. It is used diversely because, according to the man who uses it, it may represent any one of fifty things. Today, with most people of those who use the English language , the word "Heresy" connotes bygone and forgotten quarrels, an old prejudice against rational examination.
After nearly years, this book is still relevant, particularly the sections on Islam and the Modern world. Christianity is under attack from outside and inside by notional Christians. How it is Hilaire Belloc, - Hilaire Belloc was born in France in , educated at Oxford, and naturalized as a British subject in