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The Living God: A Guide for Study and Devotion (Heart of Christian Faith) Paperback – 12 Mar 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (12 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664239072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664239077
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,214,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College, London. He is the author of several books, including C.S. Lewis: A Life and The Dawkins Delusion.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great for young and older Christian who wants to grow in their knowledge of God 15 Aug. 2014
By Chris Ho - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Other than the book ‘Knowing God’ by J. I. Packer, can you think of another book that talks about who God is (that’s not a part of a systematic theology textbook) and that’s targeted for the everyday christian? I think you’ll have to think rather hard about that. But that’s why this book is so needed!

This is the 2nd book in this series, and in this book Alister McGrath seeks to teach the reader in 5 chapters some basic truth about who God is. The format of this book is not like akin to other christian books that’s currently on the shelf, rather it’s formatted very nicely to be similar to lectures given by the author to the reader. The reader seemingly encouraged to take a seat and ‘listen in’ to the series of 5 ‘lectures’.

Building on from his previous book on Creeds in the series, McGrath logically moves on to the important topic of the identity of God — Who God is. McGrath moves through the Old and New Testament with ease, bringing the readers to attention about what the Bible tells us about who God is. Within the first chapter, he expands on 2 metaphors that describes about God, God as the Rock and God as the Shepherd.

In the second and third chapter, McGrath ‘personalised' God, God is not just one who’s wholly other, He is a personal God, one who is loving and faithful, and one who has power, compassion and understands suffering. Within this 2 chapters, McGrath introduces to the readers what the Bible means when it says God is our Father. Next, he explains what christians mean when we say God is able to do all things, and how only the God of the Bible is able to understand our suffering fully, because He is one who has suffered — in person — alongside with us.

Next, McGrath explains what it means when we say God is a Creator, within this chapter is a very interesting part on how he deals with people often say they would have done a much better job than God had they been in-charge. Also McGrath highlights in this chapter how science and the Bible does not contradicts each other, rather it complements each other as they are each answering a different question.

The last chapter McGrath tackles the hardest topic within the God, Trinity. This chapter is really worth the price of the book. I find this chapter exceptionally well-written, in it he humbly tells us that it is really impossible for us to fully comprehend how God can be triune yet one. Yet, he gives us hope that even if we do not understand it fully in a simple formulae (as life often is), it is okay, we are merely finite creatures. Then McGrath moves on to the practicable aspects of this doctrine.

What I hope could be improved in this book would be the inclusion of discussion questions at the end of each other or at the end of the book, there’s so much in each chapter that they would be enough to sustain one discussion session.

I would recommended this book for new believer who wants to really grow in their knowledge of who God is, or for older believers who are intimidated by systematic theology textbooks. This will be a good place to start!

Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Two, Three, and Four... 30 Jun. 2015
By Lois Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As Alister McGrath continues his series called The Heart of Christian Faith, this second volume in the series is called The Living God, and is published by wjkbooks.com. McGrath asks, "How doe we know about God?" and he says that dictionaries offer definitions of God as a "vague supreme being." He notes that Christian faith "stretches back to the dawn of civilization," and "we hold hands with millions who have known and loved our God and passed their wisdom on to us." Christians believe in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob (Exodus 3:l6), and when we read of those "with whom we are linked by faith we are absorbing our own family history"

McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College, London, and a prolific author. He claims that our God is a "personal God," an "almighty God," as well as being creator of the universe. He uses images as "windows into God," such as light, rock, shepherd, father, mother, king, and friend to describe the personal relationship between God and those who believe and have faith in him. He explains the doctrine of the Trinity as mystery, yes, reminding us of the one in three: God is creator, redeemer, and sustainer. The Holy Spirit, as the third person in the Trinity, is with us daily in our minds and hearts, leading, guiding, encouraging, and often leading us to worship and thanksgiving for our Triune God who loves us.

Volume three in this series is called Jesus Christ, and McGrath focuses on "what is, in many ways, the centrepiece of the Christian faith." He explores "more thoroughly what Christians mean when they declare that they believe in Jesus Christ." Volume four is called The Spirit of Grace, and as McGrath continues his teaching on the Holy Spirit, he brings in once again C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers to share some of their opinions and writings.

While volumes three and four are now available, the fifth and final volume, titled The Christiian Life and Hope, will be available from WestminsterJohnKnox in the Spring of 2016.

---Lois Sibley
Approachable 19 Mar. 2014
By Michael Philliber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In a society that is moving increasingly in a “post-Christian” direction, pastors and Christian teachers struggle to communicate Christian concepts. In a time where people have gradually forgotten doctrines that their parents and grandparents were once mildly familiar with, there are new roadblocks and barriers that clutter reception and comprehension. And then there are some verities that no longer resonate with women and men because of deep variations in family systems over the past three generations. Alister McGrath is seeking to do his part to remedy this condition with a developing series of books called “The Heart of the Christian Faith.” His new, second installment, “The Living God: A Guide for Study and Devotion,” is a 128 page paperback that attempts to tackle the first assertion in the Creeds about believing in God the Father, the Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth. The five chapters of this short book are based on sermons the author has preached over the years in various parishes. That means that they have the advantage of having been honed through interactions with real people who have real faces and live and listen with real challenges.
In “The Living God” McGrath seeks to help the readers “consider what Christians mean when they speak about God” (vii). He begins by paring down the playing field of potential deities to one specific God, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) in chapter one. The author works to show how knowing this God is both relational and functional.
In the second chapter McGrath goes deeper into the relational, by bringing out that this God is a personal God of love and faithfulness. This is a God who is deliberately involved in human lives and circumstances, not standing off at a distance distracted with other chores, or unconcerned; “The way the New Testament speaks of the Christian faith has much more to do with a living relationship in which we don’t just know about God but are granted the privilege of knowing God ( . . . ). To ‘know’ God in this sense is about experiencing, loving and desiring God” (32).
Next, the author draws the reader to the notion that this God is an almighty God of power, but that power encompasses compassion and suffering. With regard to power, McGrath seeks to display that the God and Father of Jesus Christ can be trusted; he is not a God who abuses or misuses power: “( . . .) God acts powerfully – yet also righteously and mercifully. God wills what is right for us, and is able to achieve it” (43). But this power, he goes on to point out, also includes God’s own willingness to enter our muddled, maddening world and so take up our suffering with us and for us; “In choosing to come into our world, God also chose to enter into our suffering and to bear it” (57).
The fourth chapter looks at God as creator. To say that God is creator defines creation’s origination and God’s intentionality of making it; “( . . . ) the world has not always existed; it came into being – not by accident but by an act of will” (61). And if God purposefully made all things, then all things show his craftsmanship, pointing beyond itself “to its ultimate source and origin” (62). The author, rightly, examines humankind in this chapter and what it means for us to be in the image of God; that we are accountable to God, made to resonate with God’s rationality and enter into a relationship with God (72-4). In the final segment of this chapter, McGrath’s scientific background and theological training, shine through. The way he handles the subject of creation as a continuing process with God’s active engagement is sensitive, and is (in the best sense) craftily nuanced. The author works to show that Christianity has “no quarrel with science. ( . . . ) But we have every right to criticize science when it starts behaving as if it’s a religion or declares that is has ‘disproved’ God’s existence” (83). In this portion of the chapter McGrath is delicately making room for theistic evolution, which I am not on board with.
In the final chapter the author bravely guides the reader into the unique Christian teaching of God as Trinity. McGrath repeatedly reminds those who have taken up this volume, that “( . . . ) God simply overwhelms our mental capacities, as the midday sun dazzles our eyes” (91) especially when thinking about God as Trinity. Nevertheless the author walks us through showing how some alternative formulations are rather unhelpful, but others are usefully accommodating. He enlists the help of both C.S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers, not in defending the doctrine of the Trinity, but in giving us analogies and aids to fathoming why this subject is so important. In the end McGrath rightly points out, “Those who complain about the irrationality of the Trinity are really people who want to limit reality to what reason can manage. They want to reduce God to what we can cope with or turn God into something we can control. ( . . . ) The contours of our thought need to be adapted to God, not the other way round” (108)!
“The Living God” is a plucky piece of work, in that the author gently and kindheartedly labors to help readers that have no or limited background in the Christian faith. A Christian teacher, pastor, or catechist wanting to bridge worlds will find this book useful. And readers who desire to have a better grasp of what Christians believe, will benefit hugely by reading this book. I recommend “The Living God”.
Thanks to Net Galley and Westminster John Know Press for the electronic copy of this book used for this review.
A Brief Look at the Characteristics of the Biblical God 4 Mar. 2015
By Tom Farr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Alister McGrath has a grasp on the truths of Christianity and conveys them in a way that few people have. In The Living God, McGrath looks at the doctrine of God and walks readers through what the Bible teaches concerning who God is and what he's about. In the beginning, McGrath strips away the false conceptions of God to reveal a God who is loving, all-powerful, and committed to rescuing his people. This is important because he wants to make sure readers are clear on who exactly is the subject of the book.

He then delves into some of the characteristics of God that make him unique. God is a personal God who interacts with his people. He shows God as loving. God is also almighty, and this is what makes his personal nature so compelling.

For such a small book, McGrath packs a lot of insight that should draw us to the heart of God for all that he is. This is a great book in a great series exploring Christian theology.

Review copy provided by Westminster John-Knox
Five Stars 8 Dec. 2014
By Hiram L. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent service and product
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