4 stars for this absorbing read from the ‘My Theology’ series.
I was interested to read this book because the series promises bitesize books to introduce an element of theology, written by contemporary and classical theologians, and this book in the series is written by Alister McGrath, a theologian so famous that even I have heard of him: I knew that, like me, he was an atheist who became a Christian.
I was looking for a simple introduction to his work that would not sail hopelessly above my head. To be honest, this book did sail above my head, and bitesize it might be but that bite takes the form of a compressed, dense banquet so that I am still trying to digest the feast days later…
Which is not to criticise Alister McGrath in the least. This book is fascinating even when you understand only a fraction of it. And McGrath is careful to signpost many many other writers – theologians, scientists and philosophers – and books so that the reader can pursue the ideas presented here. The book finishes with a select bibliography of his own works too. Also he does a good job of simplifying where possible, and I found his inclusion of analogies by Coulson, Lewis and Chesterton really helpful.
Usefully, McGrath breaks down his book into – as I understand it! – his steps to becoming a Christian and theologian; discerning the Big Picture of the Christian faith; historical theology aiming ‘to frame the truths of faith in today’s languages and concepts, without trapping the gospel within those languages and concepts’; connecting science and religion – the need to hold together understanding how things work and what they mean; apologetics in public engagement; and theological education – McGrath’s aim is to encourage the use of primary sources and his hope is that his work helps young theologians so that they can develop their own theology.
McGrath is very readable even when you are coming at his work in ignorance and know that your understanding is partial and basic – I may even attempt another of his books once I tackle some sort of ‘theology for dummies’ primer.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.