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Christian Theology: An Introduction [Paperback]

Alister E. McGrath
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 4, 2010 1444335146 978-1444335149 5

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.

  • Fully updated 5th edition of the bestselling textbook, incorporating expanded material, numerous 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-alone 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 comparability with earlier editions and courses based on these
  • Accompanied by a revised instructor’s website featuring expanded resources including study questions and answers; visit for more details and to register for access

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Editorial Reviews Review

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Brief Description
An authoritative exploration of the history of Christian theology from the Patristic period to present-day developments.
An ideal introduction to the history, sources & methods, and key figures of Christian thought.
An engaging introduction to core topics of Christianity discussing them in relation to the Bible and key theologians.
This classic text introduces the central ideas and developments of the European Reformations to readers of history and theology.


"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

Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 5 edition (October 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444335146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444335149
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity's Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
By Jacob
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does this hybrid succeed? February 27, 2013
Books on Christian Theology typically fall into one of three categories: Systematic, Historical, or Biblical. Alister McGrath's "Christian Theology: An Introduction" appears to be a hybrid of the first two of these. It possesses many of the features one would expect of a systematic theology, in that it covers prolegomena (in Part II, "Sources and Methods," particularly Chs. 6-7) as well as the doctrines of God, the Trinity, Christ, Salvation, Human Nature, the Church, the Sacraments, and Last things (all in Part III). Part I, on the other hand, gives a fairly brief overview of the different periods of Christian theology, beginning with the Patristic Period and ending with the Modern Period (which McGrath considers to be from 1750 to the present). The history of doctrine is not confined to Part I, however. Rather, the third part, which is ostensibly devoted to systematics, also contains considerable discussion of the historical development of certain doctrines.

Melding the historical development of doctrine with its systematic exposition is not bad. In fact, it is necessary if one is not to think that Christian doctrines somehow arrived full-blown, as if by magic. Problems arise only when this attempt results in a superficial discussion of the doctrines themselves. In reading through "Christian Theology" I found myself amazed at how little space was devoted to a variety of important and in many cases controversial doctrines. For example, the sections on the sacraments and "last things" are far too brief to do any justice to the variety of views considered.

McGrath's book also contains discussions not typically found in either historical or systematic theologies.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A heavy introduction June 26, 2011
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what you need to get yourself started February 3, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great text for theology March 10, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best I have seen though I am not familiar with too many of the genre. The writing is clear and distinct and you have a good sense of the history and the arguments and progress of this science. This book has clearly profited by Alister McGrath's experience teaching the subject for many years and using this book as his key text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source for Christian theological studies December 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Required purchase as text for college course. Comprehensive and extremely useful in numerous subsequent courses. I would recommend purchase of this book for most theological course study, regardless of whether it is required text.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent learning tool
We bought it for a class at church. It is excellent and deep, covering many philosophies of Christianity.
Published 5 days ago by William F. Balmer
4.0 out of 5 stars With God we can do anything
I need this book for my class. I was a little hard to understand. But, "Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Annette Mumphery
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - Arrived on time
This book provides a Great Introduction and Overview of Christian Theology. I would highly recommend it to anyone studying Theology.
Published 2 months ago by Bruce Patton-Roark
5.0 out of 5 stars good, concise, required text
I found it to be a good, balanced and brief, required text book- I prefer hard copy for classes (speed reading) though.
Published 3 months ago by AF
5.0 out of 5 stars Great theological work
It's clear accurate, deep, comprehensive, credible and easy to understand. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to study theology.
Published 3 months ago by Charlieobree
5.0 out of 5 stars text book
I rated this text book with 5 stars because the information is thought provoking. I actually enjoyed reading this text book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by i.Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought this for my Dad
My dad was happy i got him this. I don't really know much about Jesus but i think he was a pretty cool kid back in the day.
Published 4 months ago by Nike
5.0 out of 5 stars Christian Theology
The book came in fine shape, although it took a long time to get here. It seems that it had to come from Italy, which may be why it took so long. It was worth the wait.
Published 8 months ago by William Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good for all Students of Theology
This book is a great book for all students of theology, whether formal studies, or just a personal decision to learn more about theology. Read more
Published 9 months ago by OrangeLady
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive
That is perhaps the best word to describe this text. It isn't the most in depth of theological writings, but it gives enough depth with so much breadth! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Caleb Carter
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