Heresy Unlocked, Faith Rebounds
One time BBC journalist and co-founder of a cancer charity Roger Wilson is right in stating that Christians will find his views heretical
Heresy Unlocked, Faith Rebounds
By Roger Wilson
ISBN: 978 1 910 864 54 8
The Choir Press
Reviewed by Moira Kleissner
This book sounded intriguing and interesting; faith being examined from the viewpoint of heresy. One time BBC journalist, Roger Wilson, outlines his the battle with cancer, co-setting up the Sarcoma UK charity and gaining the CBE. This introduction, expanded in the final section of the book, describes his journey from a nominal Christianity, “stripping away dogma,” to develop a “Gnostic Christian” faith which does away an external God, believing that real Christianity is seeking the “god-within-me” through our own “innate goodness and compassion.” The book is self-published by The Choir Press.
The main section is Wilson’s journey through a somewhat truncated and selective church history. He is no historian, leaving huge gaps (no mention of Baptists!) There is a lack of bibliography, so it is unclear where his “facts” came from. I found his presentation of the first 500 years of Christianity lacking in historical rigour and confusing, conflating later developments of church leadership into a far earlier period. Stating that the early Roman Emperors had were not regarded as gods until after Jesus, he later contradicts himself stating Emperors were deified from the first Roman Emperor. Apparently the book of Acts tells us that Thomas travelled to India. This comes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, not from Acts.
Rather than being “unemotional and detached…” this book is a tirade against Christianity, the Nicene Creed, Religious Education, church schools and what Wilson calls “Catholicism.” I found this apparent hatred distasteful, as he claims that the most important thing Christ taught was showing love.
There is much conjecture rather than “facts:” the resurrection becomes “swoon theory,” (first posed by Bahrdt nearly 200 years ago, and now been discounted by all perhaps except Dan Brown); acceptance of the resurrection is the result of “stress, self-induced hysteria and mass hallucination;” the writers of the New Testament “backdated” Jesus' birth and status as Son of God; the church “hierarchy” changed the original teaching of Christ which are found in the Gnostic gospels, which he gives a pre-Christian date to, although most scholars today date them as 2nd century. Wilson says that theology is not central to his investigation but launches into the Trinity, which he says Christians believe as a “trio of divinities.” He bemoans that books about belief are only published by “minority” publishers, not easily available, and all written by theologians and academics. Considering that Random House, one of the biggest publishers in the world, has a very large catalogue of popular books on Christian and other beliefs, this seemed a strange conclusion.
Self-classified as a courageous, modern iconoclast, Wilson is tilting at theological windmills using outdated theories and unsubstantiated “facts.” Yes he is right in stating that Christians will find his views heretical. But the book would have been much more interesting and informative, had it been edited assiduously, historical facts checked and not been so vehemently anti-Christian, bitter and rambling.
Moira Kleissner is an ex-primary school deputy head, a primary school librarian, a minister's wife and a storyteller