Home > Christianity, Soteriology, Theology > Christian Theology: An Introduction

Christian Theology: An Introduction

  • Author: Alister E. McGrath
  • Publisher:  Wiley-Blackwell
  • Published: October, 2010
  • Pages: 536
  • Language: English
  • Format:  EPUB
  • Price: $34.87

Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction is one of the most internationally-acclaimed and popular Christian theology textbooks in use today. This 5th edition has been completely revised, and now features new and extended material, numerous additional illustrations, and companion resources, ensuring it retains its reputation as the ideal introduction to Christian theology:

A revised 5th edition of the bestselling textbook, now completely up-to-date with expanded material, and packed throughout with student features and new illustrations.

Features new sections on Copernicanism and Darwinism.

Includes extended discussions of Augustine’s doctrine of creation, Trinitarian theologies of religion, and the relation of Christianity to other faiths.

May be used as a stand-along volume, or alongside the Christian Theology Reader, 4th edition for a complete overview of the subject.

Retains the chapter structure of the 4th edition, ensuring comparatability with earlier editions and courses based on these.

Accompanied by a revised instructor’s website, available on publication,?featuring expanded resources including study questions and answers; visit http://www.wiley.com/go/mcgrath for more details and to register for access.

Editorial Reviews

“Alister McGrath has proven himself a master at engagingly and simply introducing Christian theology in all of its contested complexity. The fifth edition continues the development of the art to the great profit of student and teacher. All who work at the critical appropriation of the theological tradition stand in debt to McGrath.” —M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

“An expert at luring the reader into the imposing terrain of theological thought, Alister McGrath navigates its winding paths with energy and grace. With Dr. McGrath as beacon and guide, it is a satisfying journey.”—The Rev. Deborah Halter, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Atlanta, GA

From the Back Cover

A fully updated website available at http://www.wiley.com/go/mcgrath, featuring new student resources such as study questions and additional lectures from Alister McGrath

Retaining its successful structure, but now expanded and updated to reflect invaluable reader feedback, Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology offers an unparalleled introduction to the concepts and key developments of 2,000 years of Christian thought. It may be used as a stand-along volume, or alongside The Christian Theology Reader, 4th Edition for a complete overview of the subject.

About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion & Culture, and Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King’s College, London. A world-acclaimed theologian, he is the author of numerous books including The Christian Theology Reader, 4th Edition (2011), Science and Religion, 2nd Edition (2010), Theology: The Basics, 2nd Edition (2007), and Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life (2004), all published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Most helpful reviews

Very useful but needs to be supplemented with others

By Baroque Norseman

If one is used to reading Evangelical systematic theologies, then one will find McGrath’s approach to be strange. McGrath does not follow the format of normal systematicians. While he does address the various loci of systematic theology, that is not the point of the book. McGrath’s underlying point is in showing the various loci, how were they developed in the history of the Church? He maintains (indirectly, to the degree that he follows George Lindbeck’s analysis) that some doctrines can only be formed in terms of the prevailing philosophy.

With that understanding, McGrath’s first 160 pages take the reader on a tour of historical theology. He introduces her to the various approaches to theology and common philosophical movements that have determined theology. On page 159 he actually begins where most Evangelical theologians begin: prolegomena. He discusses how tradition and revelation have been employed in theology. As to the conclusion, let the reader decide. The other loci of the theology (God, Trinity, Christ, Salvation, Church, Ecclesiology) are discussed in a neutral manner. He doesn’t come to conclusions, but is only making the reader think through her convictions: If I believe x about philosophy and epistemology, how can I still maintain in soteriology?

For example, on pp. 38-39 he discusses how the pre- and early Reformers were philosophical nominalists. Accordingly, he *hints* that our understanding of justification by faith alone (which McGrath maintains) could only have arisen in a nominalist context. Is he right? Probably, but he doesn’t develop the point.

Pros of the book:

1. Despite the philosophical jargon, it was a very easy read.

2. McGrath recognizes who (or what) will be the key players in the coming decades: postliberal theology and narrative theology. Put simply, post-liberal theology denies that there is some universal unmediated human experience from which one may draw. Post-liberal theology says that the heart of religion lies in the language and rites of a community (119-120).

Narrative theology offers us a powerful philosophical construct–and a surprisingly biblical and missional one as well. It highlights stories in relation to Christian theology. The advantages are: narrative is the main genre and focus of Scripture; it avoids the dulling result of “abstractionism;” narrative affirms that God meets us in history and speaks to us in history; it neatly expresses the tension between the limited knowledge of characters in the biblical story and the omniscient knowledge of God (167-170).

3. By using the insights of narrative and post-liberalism, McGrath utterly destroys Enlightenment theology and liberalism. If George Lindbeck is correct–and he is–then there is no universal culture or experience in which to appeal. If so, the last 2 centuries of critical theology are trash.

Cons of the book:

1. He repeats himself with a vengeance. I lost count of how many times he said, “but if George Lindbeck is correct….”

2. His book represents a problem that all Western theologies face and yet none can answer: why is it necessary that the reader wade through 250 pages of prolegomena before we get to theology? Eastern Orthodox theologies do not have this problem. While some would argue that McGrath is laying groundwork, I argue that it is unnecessary. If he accepts Lindbeck’s analysis, then we shouldn’t worry about what liberals and Enlightenment folk have said about theology. They are intellectual whores and are outside our community.

3. He said in this edition that he would deal more Russian Orthodox scholars. Wonderful. He didn’t deal with them, though. He wasted too much time pondering Bultmann and Tillich. He could have better served the church by discussing gems like Lossky, Soloviev, and Bulgakov. They actually believe in the supernatural stuff. They have a point of contact with the West. German Liberals and French Philosophes do not.

Just what you need to get yourself started

By Victor Luis Guerrero

This was a great recommendation from my Seminary Professor. I didn’t know too much about Church history so I was underlining every other paragraph! This book gives you the essential building blocks to start you off on this subject. The author does a great job writing in such a way that this is the Christian view so that outsiders of the faith would find it an intellectual read.

A heavy introduction

By RB’s

The book is very in-depth into the history of certain doctrines. I liked how McGrath described what doctrines existed in history over the concept of “justification”. The reading feels heavy in some places, however. The writer doesn’t usually share his opinion, but attempts to give a more objective review. I used this book for a theology class: we used this book for observing what other doctrines existed and how they came to be accepted or rejected. First the author covers church history and names, then he covers theology in his second part. Typically, he gives a subject heading, and then a description follows. The history of certain doctrines can be either interesting or boring, depending on what one is looking for.

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