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Christian Theology: An Introduction 5th Edition

56 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1444335149
ISBN-10: 1444335146
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Editorial Reviews Review

More to Explore: See More McGrath Titles


Historical Theology Christian Theology Theology Reformation Thought
An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought
An Introduction
The Basics
An Introduction
Guide Type
Audience Level
List Price
Publication Date
July, 2012
October, 2010
September, 2011
March, 2012
Alister E. McGrath
Alister E. McGrath
Alister E. McGrath
Alister E. McGrath
Print Book
Kindle Book
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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 5 edition (October 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444335146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444335149
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,740 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

43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on June 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Doug Erlandson TOP 50 REVIEWER on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Guerrero on 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By RB's on June 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Justin Gottuso on July 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was very, very impressed with this book by Alister McGrath. He approaches his writing as a true teacher, wanting to instill the passion and energy that he has for Christian Theology in the next generation of Christian leaders. He does this by educating the reader on where Christian ideas came from and why they matter for today's world, and he does it not by telling people what to believe, but by showing them what the various options are. My main critique is that Alister seems a bit too trenched in Reformation thought for my taste and does not significantly engage with Pentecostal and Charismatic expressions of Christianity. Overall, a thoroughly engaging read and an excellent introductory text for the beginner or advanced theologian!
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