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The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology Hardcover – April 28, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1405126922 ISBN-10: 1405126922 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405126922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405126922
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,179,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


?Unlike many working in the sciencetheology field, McGrath makes a real effort to address issues of biblical criticism, which gives his work some significant depth, as he incorporates an engagement with the Jesus of history and an application of this to contemporary understandings of natural theology.? ( Reviews in Science and Religion, May 2009)

"I tried out his NT approach in a Bible study on one of the 'miracles of creation' with a group of mainly young adults to see if his stratified view of the natural world would 'prove' to be more convincing in this context: it certainly helped." (Science and Christian Belief, April 2009)

?McGrath seeks to develop a specifically Christian approach to natural theology, anchoring it in the Christ event, and interpreting natural theology as something that is both historically located in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and theologically interpreted by the church.? (New Testament Abstracts, January 2009)

?As we have come to expect from McGrath, the book is historically well-researched, conversant with recent literature, theologically creative, and carefully argued. It will certainly reshape contemporary discussions of natural theology and natural law.? (Religious Studies Review, March 2009)

"McGrath's book starts from distinctively Christian Trinitarian theology and then develops what the author sees as ways for Christian beliefs to create a means of seeing nature with a new sense of vision?with the purpose of understanding the connections between Christian belief and natural science. It is extremely well-researched and footnoted, with an extensive bibliography of sources cited. Summing Up: Recommended." (CHOICE)

"The book is learned, covering a great deal of historical ground." (First Things)


"Alister McGrath's The Open Secret provides nothing less than the foundations of a vigorous renewal of natural theology for our time. Theologians and others who have considered natural theology an exhausted topic will have second thoughts after reading this richly nuanced, scholarly, creative, and enjoyable book."
John F. Haught, Georgetown University

"This is vintage McGrath: confident, capacious in scope, brisk in exposition, decisive in argument. Noone is better placed to make a case for a revisionary theology of nature; this book is sure to command a wide audience and to generate profitable debate." 
John Webster, King's College, Aberdeen

"For much of the twentieth century natural theology was regarded as intellectually moribund and theologically suspect. In this splendid new book, best-selling author and distinguished theologian Alister McGrath issues a vigorous challenge to the old prejudices. Building on the foundation of the classical triad of truth, beauty and goodness, he constructs an impressive case for a new and revitalized natural theology. This is a well-conceived, timely, and thought-provoking volume." 
Peter Harrison, Harris Manchester College, Oxford

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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A. Langley on August 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The enterprise called "natural theology"-- popularly understood to be the attempt to prove the existence of God "naturally," apart from any religious presuppositions-- has found a rather splotchy reputation in the gossip of "respectable" theologians and philosophers. Yet just as it was wise to question the defamatory gossip of "that girl" in high school, it is equally prudent for theologians and philosophers to critically reevaluate sullied subjects such as this.

The recent wave of interest in natural theology suggests that they are doing just that.

On the crest of this wave of interest, we find the distinguished Oxford Professor of Historical Theology, Alister McGrath. McGrath has asserted his position in the forefront of this subject by touching on natural theology in several of his written works in recent years, including The Science of God (2004), his three-volume Scientific Theology (2002-2003), as well as The Order of Things (2006).

In his most recent efforts, however, he has trained his focus specifically on a reassessment of "natural theology" both through the recent conference he held at Oxford in June 2008--"Beyond Paley: Renewing the Vision for Natural Theology"--and his latest book The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (Blackwell Publishing, 384p, released April 2008).

In this new book, McGrath sets forth "to develop a distinctively Christian approach to natural theology, which retrieves and reformulates older approaches...." (3).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James on December 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ronald, I would strongly advise you to start elsewhere if you're looking into creation/evolution issues. It's kind of like complaining why a thesis in theoretical physics doesn't walk you through the structure of an atom. Try Denis Alexander, Stephen Barr or Arthur Peacocke for that kind of thing. Addressing those issues would have been entirely out of keeping with the almost overwhelming sophistication of this book, which is looking much more (inter alia) at the underlying epistemology behind how we can come to have a debate about creation and evolution in the first place.
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12 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Clemons on October 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was initially excited about the 21st century eruption of Natural Theology, not just by McGrath but by other authors. But this book is a major disappointment. The arguments are facile and poorly developed. I have defended McGrath before when he has been criticized for writing so many books that his thinking and his writing (sometimes the writing) suffers. I'm afraid with this book he has overreached. The book is heavily footnoted, but quite frankly this disingenuously creates a false veneer of well-researched scholarship. I consulted several of the books that he footnoted and found at least two of them that did not connect with the text. Also, I truly believe that he did not read all the books he footnoted.

Certainly, nature discloses God's handiwork, but McGrath claims far too much for nature: it simply isn't a reliable guide to Christian theology, as this term is normally used. I believe McGrath took his degree in biology or biochemistry and he seemingly can't shake his scientific background. Nature showing truth, goodness and beauty can be a valid imaginitive truth: but it is an ambiguous guide to rational truth. Keats, for example, realized that nature has a dark side and is tenuously interpenetrated with well-lit, convincing truth. I find his ideas disturbingly close to Emerson's and Thoreau's.

Finally, he seems determined not just to show how science and theology can be reconciled and even complementary, but he wants much more than this conjunction can yield. And in his rush to make nature/science a compelling aspect of Christian theology, he slights and ignores the New Testament and moves away from Christ. An argument for pantheism is the best this book can do and pantheism is not Christianity.
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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.

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