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Theology: The Basics

Theology: The Basics [Kindle Edition]

Alister E. McGrath
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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"This is an excellent and extremely helpful introduction to Christian theology. Believers of all familiarity with theology will find McGrath′s explanations helpful and clarifying. This would be an excellent text for a sunday school or church bible study. I would even include this as a text for an introductory course in theology." (Jacob Sweeney′s Blog, 16 December 2011) "McGrath’s approach is creedal and biblical. The chapters are lucid, engaging, and thought–provoking in so far as they serve as gateways into a complex (if not at times convoluted) field of study.” ( Religious Studies Review ) “The publisher′s blurb reports that the first edition was ′an international best seller′ …It deserves this success. Students need such a clearly presented, sure–footed account of the theological basics.” ( Theological Book Review )


"With trademark lucidity, McGrath explores the fundamentals of Christian belief through the voices of its most revered theologians. From the groundwork of the Apostles’ Creed, the text builds in measured steps upon its own foundations. This new edition will surely be welcomed by educators and seekers across a broad theological landscape."
Deborah Halter, Loyola University New Orleans

"With new and expanded chapters, this second edition of Theology: The Basics manages to improve on the remarkable achievement of the first. Concise, accurate, and insightful, it′s a wonderful introduction to the heart of Christianity."
Bradley Nystrom, California State University

"Alister McGrath does not disappoint. This text provides for students, scholars and laity an unparalleled jewel that will define Christian theology for decades to come. An engaging read."
Noel Leo Erskine, Emory University

"This attractive introduction is concise without engaging in caricature, accessible without being pedantic and historically informed without losing sight of contemporary discussions. Perhaps what is most striking is that it provides very clear instruction while inviting students to make their own discoveries and draw their own conclusions. The text is generously supported with excerpts from classic theological works, and offers thought–provoking questions for student discussion. In this way, McGrath engages his readers in the very sort of ongoing theological dialogue the work surveys."
Steven Guthrie, Belmont University

"The wisdom of a fine theologian and the savvy of an excellent teacher are distilled in this valuable book. It will be esteemed by teachers and students alike, for it is hard to imagine a better companion for beginning the journey of theology."
M. Douglas Meeks, Vanderbilt University

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 417 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (5 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #714,986 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy to read introduction 12 Aug 2010
Being a theology student myself, this book is ideal for anyone who really wants to set the ball rolling. McGrath is very easy to understand and it is, therefore, easy to get to grips with this small foundation book to Theology and its techniques. I have referred to it since in my studies although it really does do what implies in the title...covers the basics.

If you like this then I also suggest David Ford's Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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0 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring but required 2 Jan 2010
I sometimes think that writers of this type of book need to get out more!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theology for everyone... 27 Sep 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on
Alister McGrath is an author I rely upon frequently for helping to teach theology. He has a broad-based, ecumenical approach useful and accessible to Catholics and Protestants; firmly grounded in the long history of Christendom and intellectual developments arising out of the early church forward, there is much that Orthodox Christians would also find interesting and helpful. His works on Christian spirituality, historical theology, and his excellent one-volume introduction to theology are constant references of mine.

This particular volume, produced by Blackwell (one of my favourite presses, particularly for theological works), is meant to serve as both an introduction and survey of the basic themes of Christian theology. McGrath takes the Apostles' Creed, one of the creeds of the early church that most every Christian agrees upon as a statement of some authority, as the overall framework for this text. In his introduction, McGrath explains the different methods of studying theology (highlighting particular theologians, or tracing the history), and some of the disadvantages of working with those methods. He explains the basis of following the Apostles' Creed to highlight ideas, which in turn draws in discussion of particular theologians and theological schools, denominational differences as applicable, and the major source elements of scripture, tradition, and reason.

The Apostles' Creed itself is rather short and basic - each line of the creed focuses upon one aspect of the faith, and McGrath uses these lines as the topics for the chapters. Elaborating on these basic themes, McGrath pulls in discussion and references from biblical texts and images, major theologians from past and present, and general trends in history. The development of the topics is broadly drawn, proposing more questions than answers throughout. The topics, drawn from the chapter headings, include:

* Faith

* God

* Creation

* Jesus

* Salvation

* Trinity

* Church

* Heaven

Those familiar with creedal statements will recognise the basic progression here. Chapters are short and accessible without sacrificing information and support. Each chapter concludes with possible discussion question.

One of the interesting omissions in this text is that there seems to be no actual recitation of the Apostles' Creed itself - one might expect this to be in the introduction, or as the beginning of the first topics chapter on faith, or indeed in the appendix. While it is true that many Christians will have this in prayer books and other texts, and indeed many will already know the text from memory, it is a surprising omission that could be easily corrected. There are good glossary, index and biographical appendices at the end of the book.

This is a good book for use in church, Sunday school and bible study situations, particularly for liturgical churches whose congregations will be readily familiar with the Apostles' Creed.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theology: The Basics 25 Feb 2005
By Joel Barnes - Published on
Something I have kept in the back of my mind for awhile now is to be on the alert for a short book delineating Christianity in its broadest categories. For me, the utility of such a book - were it to exist - would consist in having something to give to friends and acquaintances from different religious backgrounds, who are interested in what Christianity is generally about. Without wanting to sound melodramatic, let me say that Dr. Alister McGrath's book, _Theology: The Basics_, has filled that gap and freed up some memory in the back of my mind.

_Theology: The Basics_ is arranged very simply around an ancient Christian formula known as the Apostles' Creed. What McGrath discusses, whether faith, God, creation, Jesus, salvation, the Church, or heaven, is found in germ form at least in the Apostles' Creed.

As a scholar of historical theology, McGrath manifests a depth of understanding for Christian thought and its development over the centuries with each subject he treats. Frequent mention is made of such thinkers as Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, etc. Some readers will find helpful the selected Christian texts, which are placed at the end of each chapter, accompanied by a few questions for further reflection. This feature makes _Theology: The Basics_ amenable for discussion groups.

From the perspective of someone, who might like to distribute a copy of this book to non-Christians, let me offer three reasons in support of this gesture: Firstly, _Theology: The Basics_ is a clear presentation of Christianity with the selected subjects dealt with in a mature fashion. Secondly, McGrath showcases an ecumenical spirit citing from Protestant and Roman Catholic sources alike, though perhaps the majority of citations come from the former. Thirdly, _Theology: The Basics_ is a non-threatening book. McGrath is anything but in the reader's face. Listen to how he ends his book: "...some of you will choose to end your studies here. If so, I would like to thank you for allowing me to accompany you on your exploration of theology, and wish you well in the future." (2004, p. 138)
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Introduction 17 April 2009
By J. Fairless - Published on
I hold a doctorate in practical theology and have read widely over the years. I needed a "primer" to use in an introductory theology class for laypersons. Having been familiar with Professor McGrath's larger volumes, I thought this volume might be worth a look. It was worth much more!

McGrath manages to cover the highlights of a 2,000-year subject, striking a balance between brevity and depth. He calls the work a "taster"--intimating that those who get just a taste of theology in this manner may want to go on to a more sumptuous feast. The beauty of the book may also be a source of frustration for some: I found myself wanting to have more depth just when the discussion got interesting. But, in the interest of covering the subject, McGrath chooses to move along.

There is a companion volume, Theology: The Basic Readings, which is helpful, but not necessary. McGrath includes a striking number of quotes from "source material"--i.e., the words of the original authors/thinkers such as Anselm, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and a number of contemporary writers.

Again, for an introduction to the subject, you could hardly do better; if you are looking for an in-depth study, try McGrath's longer works.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theology: The Basics 9 May 2008
By Mary F. Reavey - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I used this book for one of the courses in my Masters program and have used it many times since then as a resource. I have used it for myself as well as to answer questions for our RCIA group. I have recommended this book to fellow team members at our parish.
McGrath's use of the Apostle's Creed as the model for the progression of the chapters fits in well with learning about God and our beliefs. I also liked cross referencing with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great beginning 26 Nov 2013
By James Kelliher - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having started formation for Holy Orders, I chose this book to begin to have a better knowledge of theological teachings. I was not disappointed and seek to read more from this author. His style and approach, in this book, allow the novice to slowly grasp concepts that will be expanded on in further works.
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