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Written by one of the world's leading Protestant theologians, Theology: The Basics is designed for students taking a first short course in Christian theology or for lay Christians who wish to find out more about their faith. Accessible and lively, this introductory textbook: Introduces readers to key theological issues, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, cre Written by one of the world's leading Protestant theologians, Theology: The Basics is designed for students taking a first short course in Christian theology or for lay Christians who wish to find out more about their faith. Accessible and lively, this introductory textbook: Introduces readers to key theological issues, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, creation, salvation, atonement, religious history and heaven Includes within each chapter an overview of one of these themes, presents relevant biblical passages, and summarizes the contribution of one major theologian Uses the Apostle's Creed as a framework in order to provide a user-friendly structure Features a concluding section which explains how readers can take their study further, giving examples of the kind of detailed discussion that is possible. Alister E. McGrath is the author of numerous popular theology textbooks, including Christian Theology 3rd edition and The Christian Theology Reader 2nd edition. Readers may wish to use this book in order to make the transition to these more challenging texts.


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Written by one of the world's leading Protestant theologians, Theology: The Basics is designed for students taking a first short course in Christian theology or for lay Christians who wish to find out more about their faith. Accessible and lively, this introductory textbook: Introduces readers to key theological issues, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, cre Written by one of the world's leading Protestant theologians, Theology: The Basics is designed for students taking a first short course in Christian theology or for lay Christians who wish to find out more about their faith. Accessible and lively, this introductory textbook: Introduces readers to key theological issues, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, creation, salvation, atonement, religious history and heaven Includes within each chapter an overview of one of these themes, presents relevant biblical passages, and summarizes the contribution of one major theologian Uses the Apostle's Creed as a framework in order to provide a user-friendly structure Features a concluding section which explains how readers can take their study further, giving examples of the kind of detailed discussion that is possible. Alister E. McGrath is the author of numerous popular theology textbooks, including Christian Theology 3rd edition and The Christian Theology Reader 2nd edition. Readers may wish to use this book in order to make the transition to these more challenging texts.

30 review for Theology: The Basics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    This book is basically a really short version of McGrath's longer textbook Christian Theology: An Introduction. It is structured around the Apostle's Creed, giving a brief introduction to each of the concepts along with a study in a primary theological text. It's not bad, but McGrath has still not gone very far in repairing his woefully poor take on eschatology. The very fact that the last chapter is titled 'Heaven' rather than 'Eschatology' to explain those phrases 'the resurrection of the body This book is basically a really short version of McGrath's longer textbook Christian Theology: An Introduction. It is structured around the Apostle's Creed, giving a brief introduction to each of the concepts along with a study in a primary theological text. It's not bad, but McGrath has still not gone very far in repairing his woefully poor take on eschatology. The very fact that the last chapter is titled 'Heaven' rather than 'Eschatology' to explain those phrases 'the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting' at the end of the creed, illustrates the problem. Bodily resurrection is mentioned almost as a historical oddity rather than the primary belief of historic Christianity. McGrath just can't seem to get out of his mindset of conceiving of Christian hope as no more than 'going to heaven when you die'. Given the depth of his understanding of other areas in Christian theology, this continued shortcoming is utterly baffling.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David J. Harris

    Raises the right questions, gives a generous scope, and shows how to carefully interact with sources. McGrath writes toward the end that his purpose was to whet the appetite to study the truths of theology, not to explore the depths of the truths themselves. To that end, this book accomplishes its mission and is a worthy read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    FINALLY. I thought this class may never end. Now to go take my final.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    McGrath's work is very straightforward and an excellent introduction to theology. I'm interested in reading his full outline in theology as this was only a brief introduction. The chapters on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity were worth the price of the book alone. McGrath's work is very straightforward and an excellent introduction to theology. I'm interested in reading his full outline in theology as this was only a brief introduction. The chapters on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity were worth the price of the book alone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    An informative and lucid introduction to the major themes of the Christian faith. I'm excited to dive into the longer introductory textbook that Dr. McGrath has also written on the topic. An informative and lucid introduction to the major themes of the Christian faith. I'm excited to dive into the longer introductory textbook that Dr. McGrath has also written on the topic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Kerslake

    A few years ago I watched Alister McGrath debate religion with Richard Dawkins on Youtube. I really liked the way he argued his case. I then went off and read Dawkins' The God Delusion and then followed it up with McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. These guys never give up! This current book does what it says on the tin and does it well, the basics of Christian theology. What interested me most was the way Christian thinking emerged from a never ending argument about what the New Testament actually A few years ago I watched Alister McGrath debate religion with Richard Dawkins on Youtube. I really liked the way he argued his case. I then went off and read Dawkins' The God Delusion and then followed it up with McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. These guys never give up! This current book does what it says on the tin and does it well, the basics of Christian theology. What interested me most was the way Christian thinking emerged from a never ending argument about what the New Testament actually means. They just can't seem to agree. Although this makes it a bit confusing it does mean that thinking can evolve and change with the times which is a good thing. At times you do find yourself wondering why people got so worked up about things such as the Trinity but they did and if we want to understand religion in its past and present contexts we have to engage. A really helpful introduction to a fascinating and complex subject.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Don Bryant

    I want to begin by saying I am a fan of Alister McGrath. He speaks as a standard bearer for that brand of Evangelicalism with which I am most comfortable. He is featured in the video series, The Apostles Creed, and demonstrates clarity, conviction and intellectual credibility and soberness. I have read his "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible." Good writing. I at some point will read his new biography on CS Lewis, "C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet." I use I want to begin by saying I am a fan of Alister McGrath. He speaks as a standard bearer for that brand of Evangelicalism with which I am most comfortable. He is featured in the video series, The Apostles Creed, and demonstrates clarity, conviction and intellectual credibility and soberness. I have read his "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible." Good writing. I at some point will read his new biography on CS Lewis, "C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet." I use this book for my Christian Traditions class in college. It is a companion volume to his "Theology: The Basic Readings," and a shorter version of his "Christian Theology: An Introduction." It is a short but still sophisticated explication of the essentials of Christian theology, structured by the Apostles Creed. There is only 199 pages of text so brevity is critical and much is left out. But he sets the jib of the sail, as it were, and the alert reader will be sent in a direction that will yield much value along the way. Each chapter ends with engaging a specific original source and then gives the reader some follow up questions that would be useful for personal and group exercises. The chapters are: Faith, God, Creation, Jesus, Salvation, Spirit, Trinity, Church, Sacraments, and Heaven. There is a glossary, very helpful for students. McGrath is a British Evangelical. That means he has fewer axes to grind than American Evangelicals who struggle with a Fundamentalist heritage with its inherent "urge to purge" instincts. He is clearly an Evangelical who speaks for supernatural Christianity while maintaining as large a consensus as is intellectually feasible. In his book, "Theology: The Basic Readings," he gives the reader exposure to original sources without culling out those who do not cross t's and dot i's. He will refer to some of these in his Christian theology book but he refers to these scholars less, since, I am supposing, much of it is liberal, skeptical of supernaturalism, and at the far edges of the Christian tradition. This is particularly true of modern theology. This is a book that I would like Sunday School teachers to read for their own continuing education as well as church leaders in general. For those who seek a deeper exposure, McGrath's "Theology: The Basics" will be, well, basic, and leave a taste for more.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samcwright

    I’ve been trying to think about how to review this book. Theology is not for everyone. I happen to be a fan. But it’s ambiguous and complex and can be confusing at times. And you don’t need to study theology to be a better believer. Theology can deepen belief or create doubt. I love the statement of one scholar who compared the difference between theology and religion to a menu and a meal. While theology can enlighten and inform, religion is what nourishes us. With that said, this is a good overv I’ve been trying to think about how to review this book. Theology is not for everyone. I happen to be a fan. But it’s ambiguous and complex and can be confusing at times. And you don’t need to study theology to be a better believer. Theology can deepen belief or create doubt. I love the statement of one scholar who compared the difference between theology and religion to a menu and a meal. While theology can enlighten and inform, religion is what nourishes us. With that said, this is a good overview of Christian Theology. Many of the ideas could probably be stated more simply. But I think the complexity of McGrath’s approach highlights the challenge of creating an overview of Christian theology more broadly (i.e. Catholicism and Protestantism). This is a fine book but I’m still searching for an overview that I feel comfortable recommending to friends who may just be getting started in theology or who want a summary.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randall Connally

    A good primer on the fundamental tenants of theology affirmed by most ‘professing’ Christians using the Apostles Creed as a rough outline. The book can be purchased with a separate volume of readings that supplement the material in the book. I bought this and read most of them and they do add depth and perspective to the material. In particular I liked the way the author encourages the reader to “do theology” throughout the book. I believe this is an excellent text for use in Christian high schoo A good primer on the fundamental tenants of theology affirmed by most ‘professing’ Christians using the Apostles Creed as a rough outline. The book can be purchased with a separate volume of readings that supplement the material in the book. I bought this and read most of them and they do add depth and perspective to the material. In particular I liked the way the author encourages the reader to “do theology” throughout the book. I believe this is an excellent text for use in Christian high schools, Sunday school classes or for lay persons like myself who enjoy theology. It is written in what I would consider to be an “academically oriented style” as opposed to other theologies which lean more toward being a “new believer oriented” presentation of the material. But I don’t say this to condemn the book, in fact I think this volume nicely supplements other introductions to theology and in tandem with such would reinforce and deepen the historical understanding of theology.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim Bennett

    This is a really good introduction to the basics of theology. You can spend a lot of time on some of the topics or you can just get the main points and move on. I guess I'm most comforted in knowing that over the centuries, others asked many of the same questions that I ask today. If our faith is worth anything, we should not be afraid to discuss what we're thinking or questioning. The great reformers and theologians of the past did exactly that. This book makes me want to learn more about the h This is a really good introduction to the basics of theology. You can spend a lot of time on some of the topics or you can just get the main points and move on. I guess I'm most comforted in knowing that over the centuries, others asked many of the same questions that I ask today. If our faith is worth anything, we should not be afraid to discuss what we're thinking or questioning. The great reformers and theologians of the past did exactly that. This book makes me want to learn more about the historic Christian faith.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dawood

    I recommend this book to All Christian to read!!' I recommend this book to All Christian to read!!'

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard Worden

    An excellent introduction to theology.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    Best book for undergraduates with no theology background. McGrath is a gem with crystal clear thinking and writing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Josh Sweeney

    Basic systematic theology book

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephani Hannahs

    Read for School assignments.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristian Kilgore

    Alister McGrath does a quality job throughout this concise volume to stay as close to the middle of the theological road as possible. He deals with and refers to both Protestant and Catholic viewpoints, utilizing creeds, doctrinal statements, and quotes from thinkers on both sides of the aisle. The Apostle's Creed is his pathway as he moves from topic to topic, devoting a chapter to each major idea in the Creed. There are things that this volume does not cover such as sin, mission / evangelizati Alister McGrath does a quality job throughout this concise volume to stay as close to the middle of the theological road as possible. He deals with and refers to both Protestant and Catholic viewpoints, utilizing creeds, doctrinal statements, and quotes from thinkers on both sides of the aisle. The Apostle's Creed is his pathway as he moves from topic to topic, devoting a chapter to each major idea in the Creed. There are things that this volume does not cover such as sin, mission / evangelization, and the human condition, but by McGrath's own admission he was intentionally keeping this book short to make it accessible to an audience that might never attempt another book on theology. If I had one complaint about the book it would be it's painstaking neutrality. In McGrath's effort to keep from putting too fine a point on certain debated doctrines and beliefs he inadvertently leaves a couple of issue on a fine line between orthodox belief and false doctrine. None of these instances are blatant, nor do they have to do with any major, soul-shaking topics - it is almost nitpicking to point them out, but they are noticeable enough to be caught with only a little scrutiny. That being said, I would recommend this book highly to anyone with a desire to weave through the history of the church, at an elementary level, to see how our core beliefs have been shaped, and who helped shape them. It's an excellent introduction and McGrath is a helpful and engaging writer. I close with a quote from the book by Karl Barth that is a wonderful support of the laity as theologians: "Theology is not a private subject for theologians only. Nor is it a private subject for professors. Fortunately, there have always been pastors who have understood more about theology than most professors. Nor is theology a private subject of study for pastors. Fortunately, there have repeatedly been congregation members, and often whole congregations, who have pursued theology energetically while their pastors were theological infants or barbarians. Theology is a matter for the Church." - Karl Barth

  17. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Reeves

    Read in the hope of using this tome for the training and teaching of parishioners. Have read multiple of his books before, but was disappointed with the usual Evangelical Pietistic Anglican approach to treating the core Patristic Church fathers as “Mascots” in CORE AREAS to be read and interpreted through, Luther, Calvin, and current modern theological lenses. Most Protestants, however, will have fewer qualms. I.e., while I am a fan in many ways of Karl Barth's theology (especially his Doctrine o Read in the hope of using this tome for the training and teaching of parishioners. Have read multiple of his books before, but was disappointed with the usual Evangelical Pietistic Anglican approach to treating the core Patristic Church fathers as “Mascots” in CORE AREAS to be read and interpreted through, Luther, Calvin, and current modern theological lenses. Most Protestants, however, will have fewer qualms. I.e., while I am a fan in many ways of Karl Barth's theology (especially his Doctrine of God), he is almost helpless regarding his views on the sacraments as they have been historically understood. McGrath jumps all over this and continues to fuel the limits of Reformational myopia when it comes to an ecclesiological application of the mystery of God's work in the sacraments and within his Covenant Community as a whole (this also crops up in multiple ways in McGraths "Historical Theology", but in far less obvious ways). McGrath's Genevan Reformed bias is evident in his treatment of tradition, Holy Scripture, the sacraments, and the church. As an Anglican Priest, I found this book too often showing forth the individualism as birthed by the enlightenment and modernity. That said, there is much to commend the book for in its basic assertions, and the attempt by the author to expose the reader to core thinkers and theologians of every age. McGrath is a top-notch Christian thinker and scholar. Until I find something more integrative with a Patristic Covenantal understanding of conversion and ecclesiology, I will use this book with my parishioners.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wing

    At 200 pages, this introductory text manages to cover all the expected topics. It is structured around the Apostle's Creed. Accordingly, the conceptualization of the three consubstantial persons in the Trinity and their relationships are explained. This is followed by chapters on ecclesiology, sacraments and eschatology. The beginning chapters are on the whole systematic. The last chapters however are significantly more on dogmatics. Historical contexts are not fully presented and ostensibly not At 200 pages, this introductory text manages to cover all the expected topics. It is structured around the Apostle's Creed. Accordingly, the conceptualization of the three consubstantial persons in the Trinity and their relationships are explained. This is followed by chapters on ecclesiology, sacraments and eschatology. The beginning chapters are on the whole systematic. The last chapters however are significantly more on dogmatics. Historical contexts are not fully presented and ostensibly not deemed obligatory. However some background knowledge surely will help and arguably is required. Each chapter ends with short theological excerpts which the author guides the reader to dissect. The overall view is traditional but ecumenical. Do not expect any in-depth deliberation. Rather, it serves as an introduction and its clarity is exemplary. In essence: a short and sweat text.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Martindale

    McGrath very briefly expounds upon the theology expressed in the Apostles Creed, so of course there are many fascinating theological matters that were not even touched on. McGrath's intention was to wet ones appetite for future study, and it did that in a few areas like the Atonement, but to be honest, many of the great concerns of the theologians of the early church and the middle ages, seem as relevant to me as "How many angels can dance on the head of a pen." The ancient debates on matters of McGrath very briefly expounds upon the theology expressed in the Apostles Creed, so of course there are many fascinating theological matters that were not even touched on. McGrath's intention was to wet ones appetite for future study, and it did that in a few areas like the Atonement, but to be honest, many of the great concerns of the theologians of the early church and the middle ages, seem as relevant to me as "How many angels can dance on the head of a pen." The ancient debates on matters of little interest to me seem so silly, speculative and ridiculous. I imagine the theological areas that are of great importance to me seem this way to anyone who is not a Christian.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This book was assigned for first-year Bible college class that I teach. It is a good introduction to basic theological topics and seeks to offer a historical and interdenominational perspective. Rather than next positing scripture and arguing a point he provides a broad picture of the churches theological conversation on each topic over history. Some topics are covered better than others... a couple noticeable absences are the fate of unbelievers, the idea of mission, new creation and any doctrin This book was assigned for first-year Bible college class that I teach. It is a good introduction to basic theological topics and seeks to offer a historical and interdenominational perspective. Rather than next positing scripture and arguing a point he provides a broad picture of the churches theological conversation on each topic over history. Some topics are covered better than others... a couple noticeable absences are the fate of unbelievers, the idea of mission, new creation and any doctrine of Scripture.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I've used this in my intro doctrine courses, and it works well for just that. McGrath is pretty remarkable in introducing and navigating the major questions about each doctrine, though intro students won't always know how elegantly he's doing so because it's so readable and lightly noted. The book makes space for a teacher to use other texts, and I like that, but, as promised in the subtitle, doesn't go beyond "the basics." I've used this in my intro doctrine courses, and it works well for just that. McGrath is pretty remarkable in introducing and navigating the major questions about each doctrine, though intro students won't always know how elegantly he's doing so because it's so readable and lightly noted. The book makes space for a teacher to use other texts, and I like that, but, as promised in the subtitle, doesn't go beyond "the basics."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Custer

    A good overview of theology structured around the Apostles' Creed, which I appreciate. As the title suggests, it is basic and does not delve too deeply into theology as some theology textbooks. Would be a valuable introduction to theology for a newer Christian. Also ends each chapter with a section interacting with a specific historical Christian text (Calvin, Augustine, etc.) regarding the chapter topic, which is helpful. A good overview of theology structured around the Apostles' Creed, which I appreciate. As the title suggests, it is basic and does not delve too deeply into theology as some theology textbooks. Would be a valuable introduction to theology for a newer Christian. Also ends each chapter with a section interacting with a specific historical Christian text (Calvin, Augustine, etc.) regarding the chapter topic, which is helpful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Richey

    I read this looking for a text option for teaching High School theology; I don't think this quite fits what I was looking for in my particular context, but this is a good resource nonetheless. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants a thoughtful and balanced overview of theology at a lay level. I could see using this in an introductory theology class in a church. Good place to start for people looking for a basic introduction to systematic theology. I read this looking for a text option for teaching High School theology; I don't think this quite fits what I was looking for in my particular context, but this is a good resource nonetheless. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants a thoughtful and balanced overview of theology at a lay level. I could see using this in an introductory theology class in a church. Good place to start for people looking for a basic introduction to systematic theology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amir Hayek

    This book is an excellent introduction to basic theology, as advertised. This book won't in anyway make you an expert on the field, but that wasn't the point of the book in the first place. This book is categorized in 10 chapters, with each of it's theme. These themes were picked from the apostles creeds, where each theme talks about the centreal doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is an excellent introduction to basic theology, as advertised. This book won't in anyway make you an expert on the field, but that wasn't the point of the book in the first place. This book is categorized in 10 chapters, with each of it's theme. These themes were picked from the apostles creeds, where each theme talks about the centreal doctrines of the Christian faith.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Schneider

    McGrath's Theology: the Basics was a great introductory read for anyone wanting to get a broad stoke of theological issues that have emerged in church history. These issues have helped the church hold to what is true. Understanding these issues, which the essentials are addressed in this volume, will lay a proper foundation for anyone doing further theological study. McGrath's Theology: the Basics was a great introductory read for anyone wanting to get a broad stoke of theological issues that have emerged in church history. These issues have helped the church hold to what is true. Understanding these issues, which the essentials are addressed in this volume, will lay a proper foundation for anyone doing further theological study.

  26. 5 out of 5

    BoBandy

    Now, this was what I was looking for when I wasted a few days getting through the execrable A Very Short Introduction to Theology by David Ford. He structures a set of chapters each based on a section of the Apostles creed, covers the main points clearly, and deliberately leaves roads open for further study. Excellent very short introduction indeed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Roth

    Read this book for a sort of intro to systematic theology class and really enjoyed it - obviously it's not for people already more established in their theological studies (hence: "the basics") but it provides an approachable summary of many major conversations within theological study without watering them down too much. Read this book for a sort of intro to systematic theology class and really enjoyed it - obviously it's not for people already more established in their theological studies (hence: "the basics") but it provides an approachable summary of many major conversations within theological study without watering them down too much.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Booher

    I read this book as part of an Oblation Formation program. It was very well done. Personally, I find McGrath easy to engage. He acknowledged the flaws in this type of book and how to deal with them personally. I found his introduction to various theological issues helpful. The only problem I had was how often he promoted his own books as "further reading". I read this book as part of an Oblation Formation program. It was very well done. Personally, I find McGrath easy to engage. He acknowledged the flaws in this type of book and how to deal with them personally. I found his introduction to various theological issues helpful. The only problem I had was how often he promoted his own books as "further reading".

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    This is the suggested text for St Paul School of Theology at OCU's Seminary Lite course for November 2012 -- Intro to Theology. This is the suggested text for St Paul School of Theology at OCU's Seminary Lite course for November 2012 -- Intro to Theology.

  30. 4 out of 5

    G Walker

    ehhh... underwhelmed... too basic... too sloppy... see my notes from his _Christian Theology_ and then imagine worse... just another money making attempt by McGrath

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