“(6) I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (7) which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! (9) As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:6-9)
Title: A Journey in Heresy: A Theological Novel
Author: Richard P. Belcher
Publisher: Richbarry Press, Fort Mill, SC
Year of Publication: 2009
Belcher has written 24 book in his Journey series. Based on the 3 books I have read (A Journey in Grace, A Journey In Sovereignty, and the current book under review), I would recommend others to read these books too.
A Journey in Heresy is a book about a Baptist Theological Seminary where a conspiracy is afoot to replace the current head of the Evangelism department with a more erudite evangelist who brings in thousands of “decisions” a year for Christ. The problem with this scenario is that those who want the new man—Jacob Johnson Maxwell—to take over the evangelism department, want him there purely because he brings in all these “decisions.” Little do they know about this man’s heretical teachings, and it takes three men at the seminary, Ira, Dink and Dr. Sisk, to unmask the teaching of Maxwell. Dink, that is to take the brunt of the conspiracy, is tasked by the president of the seminary, Dr. Sisk, to research Maxwell’s teaching, and so starts a series of teachings on Maxwell’s theology by Dink.
Will those that are part of the conspiracy see Maxwell’s heresy (the definite heresy of the Judaizers), or are they also too impressed with “decisions” to realize that those decisions are not based on the truth of the gospel, and therefore are “decisions” for a false gospel?
This theological novel is written with an easy style which is understandable by young teenagers and up. While this is a novel, it touches real theological issues, and what better way to give people solid theology than through a story. The book runs through the ups and downs of Ira and Dink’s struggles to get through to the group on the board who started this conspiracy in the first place. While both Ira and Dink are highly concerned about teaching the truth and exposing heresy, Dink has the added pressure that he may lose his job. I don’t think the average novel will go into the amount of depth on Maxwell’s heresy as does this one.
I think that Belcher succeeds in his attempt to expose heresy, in this case the specific heresy of a real historical evangelist hailed by many evangelicals today. Since the book is in novel form, it is a real easy way of treating difficult subjects, and each of those subjects from the heresy of “Maxwell” is dealt with in the different chapters. While the story is coherent, I feel that perhaps the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. Each chapter starts shortly with the lives of the characters in the book, and then straight away goes into the next heretical doctrine of “Maxwell.” Several of the chapters have less story than the actual teaching of this known heretic. Another weakness of the book is that it seems not to have been edited properly, since there are several spelling mistakes, and sentences with redundancy. Redundancy would be to say, “I always eat all my food every time.” This is the type of redundancy in Belcher’s book. A word that I saw spelt wrong every time I can remember seeing it is “possess,” which was spelt “posses.”
With its own dealings with “Maxwell’s” heresies, the book dealt with Scripture accurately, and it showed why “Maxwell” was teaching heresy.
For me, the book underlined once again how important it is to teach the truth and to expose heresy. Something that isn’t all too important in today’s evangelicalism. That is why so many heretics have made the church their home.
Finally, I mentioned above that this book exposes the heresy of a well-known historical evangelist hailed by many evangelicals as their hero, without knowing what he really taught. Jacob Johnson Maxwell is in reality Charles G. Finney. Belcher took all the important bits that expose Finney as a heretic, and exposed his teaching for what it is. . . Heresy! Finney propagated the heresy of the Judaizers in the letter of Paul to the Galatians, and for that Paul had only one thing to say: Gal 1:6-9. I already recognised Finney’s teachings as that of “Maxwell’s” in chapter 2. I then quickly jumped to the last pages of the book, and there Belcher confirmed my suspicions about who the real heretic was behind the book’s scenes.
I would indeed recommend this book for those who do not read theological and doctrinal books, since this book will be more in a form that these type of readers can enjoy. I would also recommend it to those who read more theology than other types of books (like myself), since the book deals with the issues of Finney’s heresies clearly. It is a quick read. I completed it in 2 sittings. Quite amazing for this slow reader!