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Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity Paperback – February, 1989

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Scroll Pub Co; Third edition dated 1999 edition (February 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0924722002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0924722004
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Early Christianity was a revolution that swept through the ancient world like fire through dry timber," challenging traditional customs and institutions. The author contends that the early Church's stance toward society should concern us deeply, as we face many similar burning issues: divorce, abortion, entertainment, war, economic injustice, and the role of men/women.

Bercot, who is also a lawyer, takes the reader on a very stimulating journey in which we meet Polycarp (who was personally discipled by the apostle John) and other second-century witnesses. -- The Plough, April, 1990

Perhaps the single most important thing the book did for me was to introduce me in an unforgettable way to the early Christian writings. ...However, the author, David Bercot, does more than introduce the reader to the early Christians and their writings he advances a powerful and persuasive argument as to why we should take the early Christians and their writings seriously. This argument is basically similar to saying that the further upstream you go, the purer the waters should be. He makes a convincing case that these early Christian writers were in the best possible position to interpret and understand what the inspired writers had in mind when they wrote the New Testament. After all, some of these early Christian leaders were co-workers with the apostles and knew them personally. It is logical that they had a real advantage over us who read the Bible after nearly 2,000 years. -- Family Life, October, 1989

To say this book packs a jolt is an understatement. Bercot doesn't point fingers; he just tells it like it is, and no book other than Snyder's The Problem of Wineskins has affected my thinking of the church more than this one. This book has my highest recommendations. -- The Obligator, August, 1989

We've heard it all before. The church's decline began when Constantine named Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. David Bercot recounts all this and more. He is deeply concerned with the church's lack of spirituality. He is upset that the church has adopted worldly standards of success rapid growth and wealth. He is right in feeling and expressing these concerns. And he expresses them well. -- Bookstore Journal, November, 1989

From the Back Cover

Sex and money scandals. An exploding divorce ate. Drug-addicted youths. And an ever-growing worldliness. Today's church is fighting battles on all fronts. And we seem to be losing these battles to the relentlessly encroaching world. Perhaps the answers to our problems are not in the present, but in the past. Because there was a time when the church was able to stand up to the world. The author takes you on an engrossing journey back to that time back to the beginning of the second century. Here is an inspiring account of what Christians believed and practiced at the close of the age of the apostles and how the church eventually lost the Christianity of that time.

But this is not primarily a history book. It's a fresh, creative look at the problems facing the church today and the solution to those problems. It's a call for today's church to return to the simple holiness, unfailing love, and patient cross-bearing of the early Christians.

Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up combines sound scholarship with a free-flowing, readable style designed for contemporary laypersons. If you're looking for superficial solutions to today's problems or a restatement of traditional answers, you will need to look elsewhere. This provocative book confronts traditional answers and challenges you to a deeper walk with God the walk of the early Christians.

More About the Author

In 1985, David Bercot was a successful attorney, practicing title law for the largest public utility in the state of Texas. The thought of ever becoming an author was the farthest thing from his mind. Nevertheless, despite being a career lawyer, Bercot's passion in life was Christ--not law. At the time, he was a member of a conservative evangelical church.

Although he enjoyed the fellowship at the church he was attending, it seemed to Bercot that some of the doctrines popularly taught by evangelicals--such as unconditional eternal security and their endorsement of war--contradicted the plain words of Scripture. When he questioned various ministers about these matters, he was told that the evangelical teaching on these doctrines was the "historical faith." Bercot certainly didn't want to put his own personal interpretations over the historical faith. Yet, he wasn't going to just take other people's word for it that these doctrines were truly the historical faith.

Bercot realized that the only way he could verify the historical faith was to read all of the existing writings of the early Christians who lived within a century or two after the apostles. So he purchased a set of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (which contain nearly all of the existing writings from Christians who wrote prior to the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.) During 1985, he cut back his law practice as needed to devote the whole year to reading these ancient writings. These early Christian writings confirmed Bercot's views on eternal security and war. However, he was surprised to learn that most of the early Christian beliefs were different from his own beliefs--not only on theology but on lifestyle as well. Yet, when he went back and read the New Testament again, he realized that everything they taught was right there in the New Testament. But his preconceptions had blinded him to the plain language of Scripture.

Bercot immediately began sharing what he had discovered about the historical faith with various Christian friends. Soon these friends encouraged him to write a book about what he had discovered and how Christianity looked when it was still young. Bercot eventually followed up on their suggestion, and he wrote the book, "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up," which was published in 1989. That book contrasts early Christianity with modern Christianity.

Since then, Bercot has written a number of other books pertaining to early Christianity and committed Christian discipleship. He purposefully writes in a reader-friendly, conversational style, eschewing a more academic approach. As he said at one conference, "Scholars have had all of this information for centuries, and they have essentially done nothing with it. My goal is to get this information across to the average man or woman in the pews."

Bercot married Deborah Hart Darragh in 1972. They have three children and make their home in the Amberson Valley in Pennsylvania. On his personal website, www.davidbercot.com, Bercot has posted pictures of the beautiful Amberson Valley.

Customer Reviews

Great historical reference to early christian beliefs.
William Stoots
This book will open your eyes and let you really see the truth from God's point of view, free from theology biases and just plain make you aware.
E. Bales
Again, I basically agree with Bercot on his criticism, I just would not use these early Christian fathers as evidence.
R. A. Baker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Abba Poemen the Ubermensch on April 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book just as my conversion began. I was with a group who assumed that their doctrines were pure, and that the doctrines and practices of other groups were more or less corrupt. It was assumed that we were a re-establishment of the New Testament Church. I could have quoted you scriptures to defend every belief we had, and summon ones to dismiss every "error" anyone else had. Eventually I asked the obvious question - "if we've got the Truth, why aren't others coming here, and how did things get to be this bad? How did they go wrong?" I wanted a detailed answer, one that quoted texts that chronicled the supposed decline, rather than hearing someone else narrate to me with their own voice, from their own authority what they were told happened, or what they read some author claim had happened. After reading this book, I was forced to concede to the weight of the case made by Bercot, but like Bercot, I conceded happily (Matt.13:44-46) - at the time.

In the beginning section of the book, he fleshes out the vision of the Christians who were instructed by the Apostles, and those who were trained by them in turn. He quotes from their writings and gives you footnotes to follow. Their discipleship was so noble and rugged, I was immediately enthralled by them. They were filled with fire, and pursued the beauty of holiness by ascetic struggle (there was no 'easy-believism' or 'health and wealth' movements in the early Church). He details how the Church before Constantine (before A.D.325) lived out it's life of discipleship, and compares it to present-day movements.

The middle section details some central doctrines that the early Church universally believed.
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69 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Seth Aaron Lowry on October 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Seldom has a book challenged my views as much as Mr. Bercot's work has done. David Bercot is an individual qualified to assess exactly just what the Early Christian community taught and believed. Not only is he a lawyer, but he also has a Master of Divinity degree and is an accredited member of the National Patristics Society. What impressed me most about this work was the standard that Mr. Bercot employed to determine if a teaching was truly Apostolic in origin and a valid belief of the Christian community. If a teaching was not held by several Fathers of the same time period from different geographical locations, then that teaching would not be included in the book.
What really convicted me was how different my brand of Christianity is from that of the earliest followers of the Apostles and their Spiritual descendants. For instance, Bercot notes how the Early Church believed that Jesus' teachings in the Synoptic gospels were literal. Sure, they understood that Jesus wasn't commanding us to literally pluck out our eyes, but many parts of Jesus' teaching that they understood literally, todays Christian community has watered down or spiritualized to accomodate our 21st century mentality. For example, how many believe that Jesus really wanted us to sell everything that we own and follow Him? I know of no church that teaches such a doctrine and if one were to teach this they would probably be regarded as strange, bizarre and out of their mind. Yet, this is exactly how the Early Church understood Jesus' message and this is what compelled Cyprian, the great 3rd century bishop of Carthage, to liquidate his vast fortune and follow Jesus with everything that he had.
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72 of 92 people found the following review helpful By E. Martin on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bercot has forged a damning critique of contemporary evangelicalism, a movement which once cherished it's "separation" from the world and now apes every passing marketing fad through "christian rock music," "christian romance novels," "christian financial advise," "christian self-help" (e.g. MEN ARE FROM ISRAEL, WOMEN ARE FROM MOAB) etc.
Evangelicals who once prided themselves on being "not conformed to this world" have seemingly replaced the Episcopal Church for being "the Republican party at prayer."
In sum evangelialism is not a church, nor is it even movement anymore. Evangelicalism is now a niche market and a somewhat marginal political constituency (one to be manipulated in biennial crusades against the godless "secular humanist liberals" only to dismissed when the election is over an governing has to take place.)
It is no wonder why Bercot has stirred up such a hornet's nest in some circles.
In addition to the overdue sizing up of evangelicalism, this book is valuable in serving to stimulate interest in Patristics (the study of the church fathers). I am particularly grateful for the space he gives to Origen, the church's most brilliant intellect before Augustine.
Perhaps most importantly he reminds us that Chritian life is not a one-on-one proposition (the usual interpretation of having "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ"), but one done in Community. This cannot be emphasized enough.
This being said several notes of caution must be sounded.
First, reconstructing the church from the early fathers is a little like trying to reconstruct U.S. history with only back issues of the New York Times Op-Ed page to go on.
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