The trouble with being interested in heresy, and the trouble with having a blog called "Against Heresies," is that it gives off the impression of ungracious, smug negativity.
Of course, heresy hunters do give love a bad name with all their carping. But really, I don't spend my time trawling the internet looking for error that I can then criticize. For one thing there's too much out there. For another heresy is boring and joyless. And thirdly, it is not profitable to get sucked into ungodly chatter and foolish controversies.
I'm a pastor, not a heresy hunter, and in that respect part of my responsibility is to refute error as well as to teach sound doctrine. Princeton Seminary really got it right by having a professor of didactic and polemic theology (and it must be in that order). I've also wanted to invest time and effort on particular areas of study, and one of those areas has been in the theology of heresy (what it is, where it comes from, why we are suckers for it, how it affects us etc. etc.), and that because I had questions that I couldn't find immediate answers to.
I'm glad to say that even with a title like Risking the Truth: Handling error in the church, which may give off the impression of ungracious, smug negativity, that's not the impression lots of readers have had. I dare say that some won't like where lines have been drawn but that will always be the case when you are dealing with orthodoxy and heresy, truth and error.
That said, Nathan Pitchford's recent review at Monergism really gets what I am about:
Downes seems to have a greater delight in building up the people of God than in endless debates and controversies. May God grant the same spirit to us.You can read the full review here.
Risking the Truth is one of the most innovative and interesting books I have come across this year. Structurally, I have never encountered a book quite the same: in addressing a unified question, that of heresy within the Church, it draws on the insights and contributions of many leading Christian pastors, teachers, and theologians across the world (and the selection of contributors, by the way, is absolutely superb!); and yet it is not exactly like any other example of multi-author works available.
It is not a collection of essays or chapters on assigned topics, but rather a series of one-on-one interviews, conducted by Downes, which make for a unique set of enjoyable benefits that I discovered to be consistently threefold at least: first is the benefit of a personal glimpse into the lives and ministries of humble and capable men of God; second, immense collective insight into how to discern and address heresy within the Church; and third, analyses and reflections upon specific modern errors and heresies by those who are leading experts in their particular fields.