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Alister McGrath's internationally-acclaimed Christian Theology: An Introduction is one of the most widely used textbooks in Christian theology. Fully revised and featuring lots of new material, this fourth edition provides an unparalleled introduction to 2,000 years of Christian thought. A fully revised new edition of the bestselling introductory textbook in Christian theo Alister McGrath's internationally-acclaimed Christian Theology: An Introduction is one of the most widely used textbooks in Christian theology. Fully revised and featuring lots of new material, this fourth edition provides an unparalleled introduction to 2,000 years of Christian thought. A fully revised new edition of the bestselling introductory textbook in Christian theology Features new sections on monastic schools of theology, the English Reformation, and Radical Orthodoxy Includes increased discussion of women in the early Church, feminist theology, Eastern Orthodox theology and history, and Catholic teachings on the Doctrine of the Church Incorporates user-friendly key terms sections, and study questions Supported by a website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/mcgrath, containing additional lecturer resources.


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Alister McGrath's internationally-acclaimed Christian Theology: An Introduction is one of the most widely used textbooks in Christian theology. Fully revised and featuring lots of new material, this fourth edition provides an unparalleled introduction to 2,000 years of Christian thought. A fully revised new edition of the bestselling introductory textbook in Christian theo Alister McGrath's internationally-acclaimed Christian Theology: An Introduction is one of the most widely used textbooks in Christian theology. Fully revised and featuring lots of new material, this fourth edition provides an unparalleled introduction to 2,000 years of Christian thought. A fully revised new edition of the bestselling introductory textbook in Christian theology Features new sections on monastic schools of theology, the English Reformation, and Radical Orthodoxy Includes increased discussion of women in the early Church, feminist theology, Eastern Orthodox theology and history, and Catholic teachings on the Doctrine of the Church Incorporates user-friendly key terms sections, and study questions Supported by a website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/mcgrath, containing additional lecturer resources.

30 review for Christian Theology: An Introduction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    The Early Church fathers got into some logical cul-de-sacs such as : 1. Only God can save. 2. Jesus Christ saves. 3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God. That was fair enough, but what about : 1. Jesus Christ was crucified. 2. Jesus Christ is God. 3. therefore God was crucified. or 1. Jesus Christ suffered and died 2. Jesus Christ is God 3. Therefore God suffered and died. These are a little more troublesome. Actually, whilst I do have this book, and quite a handsome book it is too, and I did start it, I really d The Early Church fathers got into some logical cul-de-sacs such as : 1. Only God can save. 2. Jesus Christ saves. 3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God. That was fair enough, but what about : 1. Jesus Christ was crucified. 2. Jesus Christ is God. 3. therefore God was crucified. or 1. Jesus Christ suffered and died 2. Jesus Christ is God 3. Therefore God suffered and died. These are a little more troublesome. Actually, whilst I do have this book, and quite a handsome book it is too, and I did start it, I really don't know if the game is worth the candle or whether I'd be better off reading something by Philip K Dick. Theological language is all metaphor and analogy, and when you apply logic the damned theologians say oh well, analogies only work so far and although God is our Father, he's also our Mother, he's both and neither, see, because he's God, he's none of these things and all of them, and also not none of these things and not all of them, because that would be to limit him, and he's limitless, even calling not him limitless limits not him, so there. You weaselly double-thinking Christian theologians, you. (Apologies to you weasels.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    *I am actually reading the third edition, I just realised! McGrath is a very clear and succinct writer. Indeed, his prose is smooth. So there is much benefit to this book. However, having so enjoyed Reformation Thought I was slightly disappointed with this work. As well as being slightly underwhelmed overall I have a few specific disappointments. Although McGrath is clearly trying to be unbiased in his handling of debates within Christian theology there are a number of areas where it seems his own *I am actually reading the third edition, I just realised! McGrath is a very clear and succinct writer. Indeed, his prose is smooth. So there is much benefit to this book. However, having so enjoyed Reformation Thought I was slightly disappointed with this work. As well as being slightly underwhelmed overall I have a few specific disappointments. Although McGrath is clearly trying to be unbiased in his handling of debates within Christian theology there are a number of areas where it seems his own opinions become very clear. Many of these are welcome, but a few are not so. It seems the author is very opposed to those who maintain God's impassibility. This is worrying, and it threatens God's transcendence and the very Godness of God. It also weakens the creator/creature distinction that is vital to historic Christianity. Less worrying, but quiet disappointing, is the author's clear desire to have the undergraduates reading this book know he doesn't hold to any view of creation that doesn't start with the big bang. Also really disappointing is his treatment of the sacraments. First, he says all the Reformers were against the idea that the sacraments are efficacious. But this is simply not true. Secondly, he later discusses the whole subject, and particularly the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as if the only positions that existed were those of Luther, Zwingli, and Rome. Where is Calvin's position? Liked it, it almost got a four.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dyer

    One of the most highly recommended introductions. It's not an easy read, but it's great at fleshing out the ideas of Christian thoughts from 100ad to contemporary theology. It helps to make complex ideas which shouldn't be complex into understandable concepts. I found that if I tried to read more than a few pages at a time Christian concepts of God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus began to become fuzzy. Therefore I suggest dipping in when you have a very alert mind and read only one section or chapter One of the most highly recommended introductions. It's not an easy read, but it's great at fleshing out the ideas of Christian thoughts from 100ad to contemporary theology. It helps to make complex ideas which shouldn't be complex into understandable concepts. I found that if I tried to read more than a few pages at a time Christian concepts of God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus began to become fuzzy. Therefore I suggest dipping in when you have a very alert mind and read only one section or chapter at a time. I guess I'm a real lightweight when it comes to containing all of those brilliant concepts in mind. I really have a hard time chewing gum and walking at the same time. Do not let my unfocused attention keep you from reading this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    I read the first 200 pages of this book with enthusiasm. As a theology teacher I appreciated McGrath's clarification of many words, concepts and events related to the formation of essential Christian dogma. I eagerly ordered copies of the book for my upcoming Basic Christian Doctrine Class. But as the class and I began to read the second half of the book, we hit a snag. McGrath is so thorough in his overview that he includes many, many modern (last hundred years) and their non-orthodox ideas. My I read the first 200 pages of this book with enthusiasm. As a theology teacher I appreciated McGrath's clarification of many words, concepts and events related to the formation of essential Christian dogma. I eagerly ordered copies of the book for my upcoming Basic Christian Doctrine Class. But as the class and I began to read the second half of the book, we hit a snag. McGrath is so thorough in his overview that he includes many, many modern (last hundred years) and their non-orthodox ideas. My students were overwhelmed with too much unnecessary information. A much better choice for an overview of Christian theology that focuses on the basic truths that were taught and accepted before the advent of liberal theologians, would have been Thomas Oden's Classic Christianity. Unfortunately that is not available in Portuguese and I had to muddle through as well as I could with what I've got.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    McGrath, Alister. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 3rd Edition. 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 McGrath, Alister. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 3rd Edition. 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 y 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 discussing trash like Bultmann and Tillich. He could have better served the church by discussing brilliant 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. Give us Bulgakov and Lossky and leave the Germans at home!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diego Calquin

    I wish I could give it 4.5, but oh well. I think it's a very good introduction to every major theme in Christian theology, however, I missed more focus on eastern theology and lutheran development. Since the author is reformed, it was noticeable how that tradition played a major role in some parts of the book. Having said that, I still think he makes an excellent job explaining the postures of each tradition. I would recommend this to every first year theology student, since it's an easy read an I wish I could give it 4.5, but oh well. I think it's a very good introduction to every major theme in Christian theology, however, I missed more focus on eastern theology and lutheran development. Since the author is reformed, it was noticeable how that tradition played a major role in some parts of the book. Having said that, I still think he makes an excellent job explaining the postures of each tradition. I would recommend this to every first year theology student, since it's an easy read and you get a lot of names so you can further your studies in the subjects that you find more interesting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Travis Bow

    It took me over 2 years to get through this book. The most interesting and informative chapters involved the history of various theological movements. About 75% of the book went into detail on some topic of theology or other, but instead of focusing on a few mains schools of thought and explaining them well, the author crammed as many 1-page theologian summaries as possible, which made many of the positions non-sensical. For a solid overview of everything, though, this is a good reference book w It took me over 2 years to get through this book. The most interesting and informative chapters involved the history of various theological movements. About 75% of the book went into detail on some topic of theology or other, but instead of focusing on a few mains schools of thought and explaining them well, the author crammed as many 1-page theologian summaries as possible, which made many of the positions non-sensical. For a solid overview of everything, though, this is a good reference book with plenty of citations to learn more about any particular movement or theologian.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Allen

    Excellent for those new to the faith or those who have followed Jesus for decades! McGrath always writes in a way that is deep and challenging yet very understandable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Child960801

    *2013* So, I'm going to be honest with myself and admit that I'm done reading this book now. I really enjoyed the first four chapters, but then I bogged down because it got technical and really, textbooks are easier to keep reading when there are things like grades and test involved. Also, I've now misplaced the book and haven't seen it in over two months. *edited Feb. 2020* So, my second read through went about the same as my first, meaning I still didn't finish. I restarted and I did make it al *2013* So, I'm going to be honest with myself and admit that I'm done reading this book now. I really enjoyed the first four chapters, but then I bogged down because it got technical and really, textbooks are easier to keep reading when there are things like grades and test involved. Also, I've now misplaced the book and haven't seen it in over two months. *edited Feb. 2020* So, my second read through went about the same as my first, meaning I still didn't finish. I restarted and I did make it all the way to chapter 7, I think, but I'm not in a place where I'm reading theology on this level for fun. *edited Feb. 2021* Third times the charm, right? I'm starting at chapter 7, where I left off last time, and we'll see how far I get. All the way, baby! Let's do this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Martindale

    The textbook wasn't bad. It is pretty dense; in light of the breadth of material covered, he was forced to be brief and summary, which necessarily meant many sections were not deeply engaging. I would consider a strength to be how in most of the book, McGrath allowed voices from across the spectrum to have their little say, sometimes even those on the far outskirts. I appreciated this and it is what I liked best. The weakest part and what I liked the least was when I witnessed an exception to thi The textbook wasn't bad. It is pretty dense; in light of the breadth of material covered, he was forced to be brief and summary, which necessarily meant many sections were not deeply engaging. I would consider a strength to be how in most of the book, McGrath allowed voices from across the spectrum to have their little say, sometimes even those on the far outskirts. I appreciated this and it is what I liked best. The weakest part and what I liked the least was when I witnessed an exception to this rule. For example, the section on human nature, sin, and grace was really bad; the degree McGrath is an Augustinian fanboy was on full display. It was so wholly biased towards the Augustinian view and flippantly dismissive of other perspectives (the few barely touched on), that I was naturally put off since I consider Augustine to be the single most horrific and absolute worst thing that has ever happened to Christianity. The Western church is still tragically entangled in the doctrines he introduced, and we may never rid this leaven from the dough. Worse of all, McGrath didn’t even briefly mention other important viewpoints on the matter; not even a word about the insights the New Perspective has brought to the table. The chapter on the Last Things was truly lacking as well, in its treatment of hell--dismissing annihilation as being without biblical support, while implicitly suggesting the Traditional view of eternal conscious torment actually had some.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elissa

    This is a decent introduction to the beliefs of Christianity, if you’re going to use a textbook to do so. It is very heavy on Protestant views, though does make a point of showing the diversity within Christian belief. Following a 4-chapter overview of Christian history and major figures, each chapter takes a theological theme within which it shows the historical development of ideas that fall under that theme. I particularly like that structure. However, in each of those chapters there is perha This is a decent introduction to the beliefs of Christianity, if you’re going to use a textbook to do so. It is very heavy on Protestant views, though does make a point of showing the diversity within Christian belief. Following a 4-chapter overview of Christian history and major figures, each chapter takes a theological theme within which it shows the historical development of ideas that fall under that theme. I particularly like that structure. However, in each of those chapters there is perhaps too much emphasis on the Enlightenment and Karl Barth. It is also very much a “white man’s” book of Christian theology. Women are rare and liberation types of theology are only portrayed in contrast to the “standard” of tradition. There are also some themes that he does not address sufficiently, including especially experience as a source for theology which emphasizes the idea of universal human experience (which does not exist) over the much more relevant ways in which our experience/social position affects our understanding of theology.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Stewart Elliott

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. As a person who comes from a scientific background myself, I appreciated this in the author and in thr professional and indepth way he presents information. I looked at some of the older versions of this book as well, and this edition is the best. The information is meaty- it is not spoon fed, but if you are prepared to grapple deeply with theology and understand how the concepts have come into being, this is the book for you. He includes theogical view I can't recommend this book highly enough. As a person who comes from a scientific background myself, I appreciated this in the author and in thr professional and indepth way he presents information. I looked at some of the older versions of this book as well, and this edition is the best. The information is meaty- it is not spoon fed, but if you are prepared to grapple deeply with theology and understand how the concepts have come into being, this is the book for you. He includes theogical viewpoints of many different types, which I also appreciated. The study of theology is about understanding one's own theology and coming to grips with how and why one holds certain beliefs. I would say as a caveat that if you come from a denomination which is prescriptive in theology, ie one which tells you that "Christians believe this because the Bible says it," you may find this book both challenging and eye opening. The variety id Christian beliefs not just currently around the world but over the past 2000 years is staggering. There is scope for all of us, to both agree and disagree.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Frank Peters

    This is a good book that I am happy to have completed. I am also now very happy that I never took theology in college. For while I have always greatly enjoyed theology in my reading, I had not quite comprehended previously the difference between theology as a Christian topic, and theology as an academic discipline. This book is an introduction to the academic discipline. This means that there are many too many historic arguments and topics that have virtually no relationship to what the bible te This is a good book that I am happy to have completed. I am also now very happy that I never took theology in college. For while I have always greatly enjoyed theology in my reading, I had not quite comprehended previously the difference between theology as a Christian topic, and theology as an academic discipline. This book is an introduction to the academic discipline. This means that there are many too many historic arguments and topics that have virtually no relationship to what the bible teaches, but rather are the opinions and musings of intelligent philosophers (who call themselves theologians). I have very little interest in these musings, nor in the large amounts of (so-called Christian) theology that rejects the foundations of Christianity (e.g. the bible, or the person of Jesus). The result was that about half of the book was difficult reading for me. Not because it was poorly written, but because I couldn’t convince myself to care, or have any interest in what was written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland

    I like how, for each section, McGrath provides information on how beliefs on the topic have changed over time. That said, it also makes for dry reading (at least for me, who doesn't know much about the history of the church). Many names kept recurring, but since I am not familiar with these names, it was hard to keep track of who has said what on the different topics. Overall, this is a solid introduction to Christian theology and how it has developed over time in the church. If you're new to the I like how, for each section, McGrath provides information on how beliefs on the topic have changed over time. That said, it also makes for dry reading (at least for me, who doesn't know much about the history of the church). Many names kept recurring, but since I am not familiar with these names, it was hard to keep track of who has said what on the different topics. Overall, this is a solid introduction to Christian theology and how it has developed over time in the church. If you're new to the subject like me, I recommend reading with the understanding that you won't be able to track everything or remember what everything that each historical figure has said on the major points of Christian theology. Otherwise, it's going to be a stressful read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Written as a textbook for university, McGrath provides an overview of all the different ages of Christianity. He summarises each historical era by describing the main ideas of the time, theological concepts and influential thinkers. It’s a must-have if you want a concise overview of the historical context for contemporary Christian theology and where concepts originated from. It should be noted that is obviously an Introductory, some people will therefore find it wanting. It reaches its target aud Written as a textbook for university, McGrath provides an overview of all the different ages of Christianity. He summarises each historical era by describing the main ideas of the time, theological concepts and influential thinkers. It’s a must-have if you want a concise overview of the historical context for contemporary Christian theology and where concepts originated from. It should be noted that is obviously an Introductory, some people will therefore find it wanting. It reaches its target audience well though. McGrath is an author and thinker I deeply admire for his breadth of knowledge and depth of insight! This is yet another instance where it shines through.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Esots

    This is a definitive theological textbook that I have surprisingly read a lot of in the process of beginning to uncover the development of Christian thought. Theology is a massive unending topic, which theologian Donald Heinz has called a 'difficult art.' I can emphatically concur with this. The study of theology is an ongoing and never-ending process, but one I relish being involved with. I might not remember all the historical details but what is clear is there have been much theological reflec This is a definitive theological textbook that I have surprisingly read a lot of in the process of beginning to uncover the development of Christian thought. Theology is a massive unending topic, which theologian Donald Heinz has called a 'difficult art.' I can emphatically concur with this. The study of theology is an ongoing and never-ending process, but one I relish being involved with. I might not remember all the historical details but what is clear is there have been much theological reflection, interpretations and counter arguments over the course of several thousand years. A very valuable foundational resource book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    This book is great. It doesn't go as in-depth into some issues as systematic theologies like Grudem's, but its strength is that it tries to explain theological issues from many points of view, some that exist today and some that were only issues in church history. The writing is (mostly) neutral and non-opinionated. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to get an overview of the theological landscape throughout history, beyond their own theological tradition. This book is great. It doesn't go as in-depth into some issues as systematic theologies like Grudem's, but its strength is that it tries to explain theological issues from many points of view, some that exist today and some that were only issues in church history. The writing is (mostly) neutral and non-opinionated. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to get an overview of the theological landscape throughout history, beyond their own theological tradition.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    McGrath’s introduction and overview of Christian theology is excellent! Not only does the reader leave with a grasp of the basic areas and perspectives of theological study, but McGrath also gives special attention to the development of theology over the last 2000 years. The benefit gave Ned from a historical sense of the development of theology cannot be overstated. This very readable overview is recommended for all!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim and Cynthia

    Excellent content. The narrator is very engaging. Lots of mispronunciation of significant theological figures and concepts. She did a great and lovely job of keeping my attention and the choice to use erroneous pronunciations actually kept my attention (as someone who has graduate education in the area). I’ve decided to consider the Audible narrator a good choice because her mispronunciations kept me more engaged.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maya Senen

    Reasonably balanced introduction to the main themes and debates of the first 3,000 years of Christian history. There is too much ground to cover in one textbook, but here you will find nearly all the great thinkers and landmark works to chase down most of the big ideas. If used as an introductory compass for further exploration, this manual is helpful and instructive.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Werner Fourie

    Alister McGrath provides a very good overview of some of the leading thought regarding Christian Theology.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Dufton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Excellent source book for creation and Christ. Analytical . Incisive. Thought provoking

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jared Beebe

    It's a very good overview of Christian theology since its inception of the church age. It's a very good overview of Christian theology since its inception of the church age.

  24. 5 out of 5

    caroline filler

    excellent tool if you wish to learn about the history and basics of christian theology. A textbook written from a perspective of unfamiliarity. Wonderful book, can't recommend it enough excellent tool if you wish to learn about the history and basics of christian theology. A textbook written from a perspective of unfamiliarity. Wonderful book, can't recommend it enough

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Not exactly a light read, but very well done.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eclaghorn

    Easy to read, yet thorough basic theology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aldon Hynes

    I read this for an introduction to systematic theology course at seminary. It is an adequate introduction but I probably wouldn't read it except for a class. I read this for an introduction to systematic theology course at seminary. It is an adequate introduction but I probably wouldn't read it except for a class.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Philip Brown

    Solid introduction to Christian theology. It surveys the landscape well, without getting too technical.

  29. 5 out of 5

    L Caron

    Teaches the basics of Christian theology: history, development, different theologies, etc.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ike Unger

    Loved this textbook. At times a little slow and repetitive but well written.

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