Risking the Truth

full size image

Risking the Truth

Handling Error in the Church

Martin Downes

Pages: 256
Trim: Large trade paperback (216 x 138mm)
Isbn 13: 9781845502843
List Price: £8.99
Imprint: Christian Focus Adult Catalogue
Category: Theology & Doctrine > Doctrine > Apologetics

Preview contents page (PDF)

Preview sample (PDF)

Please note that to view PDF files you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader -- click here to download now.

View product info sheet


A Foreword by Sinclair B Ferguson. A collection of interviews on handling truth and error in the church. Contributors reflect on this issue in relation to the minister's own life, pulpit ministry, local church leadership, seminary training, denominations, the impact of the academy, Evangelicalism, contemporary trends, history, creeds and confessions, and doctrines that are currently under attack. There is also personal reflection on these matters, lessons drawn from experience, and practical advice. The interviews are introduced by a primer on heresy and false teaching, and concluded with a chapters on why "Being Against Heresies is not enough" and "What really matters in ministry: directives for church leaders in Acts 20."

Contributors include: Carl R. Trueman, Tom Schreiner, Michael Horton, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Derek Thomas, R. Scott Clark, Tom Ascol, Guy Waters, Kim Riddlebarger, Ron Gleason, Sean Michael Lucas, Gary L. W. Johnson, Conrad Mbewe, Geoffrey Thomas, Joel Beeke, Robert Peterson, Michael Ovey

About Martin Downes

Until recently Martin Downes was Pastor of Christ Church, Deeside, North Wales, Martin blogs at He has also contributed to Reforming or Conforming: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church published by Crossway Books.


Serious. Thoughtful. Humble. Godly. Loving. Bracing. Encouraging. These interviews will be a blessing to anyone seeking to be faithful in Christian ministry.

James M. Hamilton Jr., Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

"I wasn't sure what to expect from Risking the Truth: Handling Error in the Church but Martin Downes' collection of interviews proved to be a wise and insightful read...there is a remarkable similarity in the general approach to truth and error given by these men: preach the Bible, don't neglect your own heart, don't spend all your time on controversy, test your theology against historic creeds and confessions, beware of pride. I really enjoyed this book. Pastors and scholars especially would do well to pick up a copy.

Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina

While Risking the Truth should be read by church leaders, it is nonetheless writ­ten in easy-to-grasp style, and is therefore accessible to laymen as well. Because of its rich content and pastoral wisdom, it will encourage many church leaders to maintain the fight against heresy.

Greg Hoadley in New Horizons magazine (OPC) December 2009 issue

"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..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."

"What I really appreciate is the repeated counsel not to focus on error. Heresy hunting seldom brings much positive fruit. Mark Dever counsels the pastor that it is 'far more important to know the truth that to learn all of the counterfeits.' The pastoral and relational emphasis that permeates the book makes dealing with a difficult topic a relatively encouraging task. As Joel Beeke states: 'Every minister must learn to defend the faith without being defensive and combative.' A generous amount of that spirit is evidenced throughout."

Gary Ware, Pastor, Mount Gambier Presbyterian Church, Mount Gambier, South Australia, Australia

This work is important because it deals with contemporary trends, history, creeds and confessions, and doctrines that are currently under attack. There is personal reflection on these matters, lessons drawn from experience, and practical advice. Kim Riddlebarger, in a truly gripping chapter, describes how he was extricated from dispensationalism. Chapter twenty by Robert Peterson has the apt title, ‘The annihilation of hell'. Ligon Duncan provides a brilliant explanation of the New Perspective on Paul. He refutes and buries it...Ligon's contribution is worth the price of the book.

Erroll Hulse, Editor of Reformation Today Magazine

Martin Downes' book is very unusual. To be honest I had already seen it and decided its subject was so depressing that I didn't want to read it before reading the 'Exiled Preacher' interview led me to buy it. Martin has written the two introductory and two closing chapters and the rest of the book consists of twenty interviews with evangelical academics and pastors. There are some very sharp insights from some of the contributors but there are common emphases: 'the importance of biblical exposition in the life of the church, the value of well-tested and pastorally well-proven Confessions of the church, the importance of guarding the heart, the privilege of genuine friendships in which men seek to hold one another to a gospel life-style.' Well worth reading - I just read a chapter a day and gave time to thinking about what had been said.

Mike Plant, General Secretary EFCC

"This is an unusual but helpful book on a neglected but vital subject. It consists of interviews with twenty leading evangelical pastors and seminary teachers on the issue of handling and refuting error in the local church...provides wise, godly and eminently pastoral advice that will help church leaders protect the flocks under their care. I commend it warmly to men in church leadership."

Evangelical Times

"It is a privilege to introduce and recommend this unique book. ...a very distinctive contribution to the early twenty-first century church. Martin Downes has assembled an all-star team..."

Sinclair B. Ferguson, Associate Preacher, St. Peter's Free Church, Dundee

This is a book that promotes reflection. By introducing you to a number of leading Christian thinkers, it gives you a read that is interesting, informative and stimulating. It provides you with a treasure-chest of historical, theological and practical insights as it airs issues that are confronting the worldwide church and its leaders at the present time. Christian pastors, leaders and academics who neglect this book will be very much the poorer intellectually, spiritually and practically.

Stuart Olyott, Pastoral Director, Evangelical Movement of Wales

"This collection is fascinating, sobering and encouraging. It presents an impressive range of experience and wisdom on the challenges facing the church and its ministry in dealing with false teaching while being sensitive to those affected by it."

Robert Letham, Wales Evangelical School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales

"What a novel way to approach this most vital of subjects! Given that theological reflection is human thought about the Scriptural revelation of a tri-personal God, I have always believed that the personal element has a place in all of our theologizing. The subjective should not-indeed cannot-be removed from theology. And here we see the way that some of the most important theological minds of our day personally grapple with how truth is to be defended. This mesh of subjectivity and Christian apologetics-in which objectivity is so vital-makes for both compelling and profoundly instructive reading."

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

Customer Reviews

What is heresy and how is it different from other kinds of theological error? How do I keep myself and others within my sphere of influence from theological error without becoming sidetracked by an attitude of perverse negativity? As a new pastor on the front lines of ministry, I found Martin Downes' new book to be a welcome help in answering these and many other crucial ministerial questions. Filled with the precision of rigorous scholarship as well as the tenderness of pastoral wisdom, read this book and be convinced that truth is worth the risk.

Posted by M. Jay Bennett, Assistant pastor, Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church (PCA), Missouri at 23:47 on Friday 18 September 2009

One of the things I liked immediately about "Risking the Truth" was its unique format. Martin Downes assembled an oustanding 'cast of characters' to deal with the issues he raises. In a series of thought provoking interviews Downes explores some of the ways error snakes its way into the church and what are the appropriate responses to this reality. One of the unifying characteristics is the challenge of jealously guarding the church against error while seeking to love and restore those who err. Pastors and elders in particular will benefit from this book. But I highly recommend this book for lay persons as a means to equip them with an understanding of what is required to properly guard the flock of God.

Posted by Todd Pruitt at 13:44 on Friday 18 September 2009

To be honest, I am finding it really pastoral at the moment, which I did not expect...the vast majority of what I have read is practical, Christ centred and heart warming. Ultimately I am being more and more encouraged to concentrate on Christ and preach expository sermons! Thanks for giving us this resource!

Posted by Jonathan Thomas, Pastor of Ammanford Evangelical Church, South Wales: at 12:21 on Monday 15 June 2009