Item description for Christian Spirituality: An Introduction by Alister E. McGrath...
An introduction to Christian spirituality. The book introduces this area of Christian theology as a serious and exciting area of study to those encountering it for the first time. This text: adopts an educational approach; avoids a purely historical approach to the subject which students might find unrewarding; encourages active engagement with primary sources through worked case studies; includes an analysis of the relationship between theology and spirituality, focusing on five major themes; offers coverage of the Christian spiritual tradition, including Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Evangelicalism; includes a guide to resources in spirituality available on the Internet; and can be used for private study or taught courses.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.94" Width: 6.88" Height: 0.81" Weight: 1.25 lbs.
Release Date Jan 16, 1991
ISBN 0631212809 ISBN13 9780631212805
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More About Alister E. McGrath
Alister E. McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, and Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. He is the author of numerous popular theology textbooks, including Christian Theology, fourth edition and The Christian Theology Reader, third edition. Readers may wish to use this book in order to make the transition to these more challenging texts.
Alister E. McGrath currently resides in Oxford. Alister E. McGrath was born in 1953 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford, King's College, London, UK King's College London.
Alister E. McGrath has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Christian Spirituality: An Introduction?
A good introduction to a diverse subject Jul 27, 2004
Alister McGrath, theologian at Oxford University, is one of my constant and consistent references. From his books on various topics in theology (historical theology, theology and science, etc.) to his general surveys (his 'Introduction to Christian Theology' remains a standard I use in my classes when I can), he cover material in an interesting, accessible, and generally thorough manner.
This particular book, 'Christian Spirituality', is broad introduction to the diverse strands of practice and belief in the history of Christian spirituality. It does not assume any particular theological background -- McGrath introduces the theological underpinning as he develops the topics. Unlike many introductions to this subject, McGrath does not follow a strict historical development approach. This book takes a more thematic approach, building up to a final chapter of classics of spiritual literature from the various strands of tradition within the Christian framework.
Primary texts are used throughout this book; these include writers from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions, but for the most part, all of the writings here are accessible and relevant to those in most traditions. The first chapter sets the stage by looking at terminology and definitions, as well as the limitations and drawbacks of being too precisely defined in a discipline such as spirituality. The second chapter develops broad paradigms -- historical, denominational, psychological, and cultural, particularly looking at the various ways in which Christianity has interacted with the world (in the world, against the world, above the world, transformer of the world, etc.).
Chapters three and four look at theological relationships with spirituality. The nature of theology, according to McGrath, is often considered different from, sometimes opposed to, the general nature of spirituality. McGrath agrees, if definitions are high abstractions and intellectually removed from relationship with each other. There are positive and negative aspects of the relationship between spiritual practice and theology -- McGrath argues that, with appropriate care and attention, the tension between the disciplines need not be so pronounced.
Chapters five and six develop Christian spirituality from a biblical and a physical/practical sense. Both of these are rooted in the long tradition of Christianity; from the structure of biblical stories to the structure of the church year, there is a way of bringing the images to the forefront. The bible provides many strong images, in word and narrative. The spaces, places and art work of Christian develop in strong symbolic tones means for Christians to develop their spirituality. McGrath covers the many aspects of these.
The final chapter has a rich collection of spiritual classics, from Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa to John Henry Newman and Charles Wesley. While most names will be immediately familiar to readers (Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, etc.), a few will likely be new. Classics are not, as McGrath points out, elitism texts remote and distant, but rather, those texts that have been proven to have enduring qualities and value for generations -- hence, it is hard to proclaim 'new' works as 'classics'; however, there are some relatively recent pieces included. McGrath introduces these texts by looking at various aspects of the texts -- a rather introductory literary and critical analysis framework.
Part of the purpose of this book, besides being a survey, is to motivate readers and students to further study. There is bibliographic information given after chapters for further reading, developing the topics covered in more detail. The appendix also a listing for further reading, as well as a directory of internet sites. This is a great resource.
Solid Introduction Oct 14, 2002
Prof. Alister McGrath is a moderately conservative theologian and an ordained minister of the Church of England. He has written a large number of works, some of which are quite technical and others of a more introductory nature.
This work is - as its name indicates - an introductory study of Christian spirituality (a topic that is often left out of standard texts on theology, for some reason.). I enjoyed the book a lot. In particular, it is well organized. The book starts with a discussion of certain themes and proceeds to develop the. The second portion of this book surveys spirituality from a historical perspective. Prof. McGrath provides brief selections from various writers and then asks questions, encouraging the reader to reflect on the excerpt. Prof. McGrath discusses prayer, Christian living, the church year, and other matters that form the basis of spirituality.
The one problem that I have with the book is that it tries to be a little too ecumenical. For example, when discussing asceticism, he doesn't mention the extremes that many Catholics have taken to deprive themselves of worldly things. Likewise, when discussing Mary and the saints, he simply points out that Protestants reject Roman Catholic practices in this respect. This doesn't exactly clue the reader in on the extent of the controversy.
In spite of a few flaws, this is an excellent introduction.
Another excellent McGrath book Jul 9, 2001
It seems as though everything Dr. Alister McGrath writes is incredible. "Christian Spirituality" is no exception to this thought. Dr. McGrath writes in an easy to read manner but does not water down his subject to the point that it is meaningless. "Christian Spirituality" is a wonderful summary of spirituality and places a great deal of emphasis on spirituality within theology. If you are looking for a good historical, cultural, geographical (eastern verses western spirituality) understanding of Christian devotion this Dr. McGRath's book is what you want.
Excellent Introduction to Christian Spirituality Mar 19, 2001
This is the kind of book, I would have liked to read during my academical training. Then I struggled with books full of technical terms, betraying more about the author's wish to be honoured as leading scholar than his will to teach those who were likely to read the book. Even when they were called "Introductions" they always presupposed a certain knowledge of things, that actually they still had to provide. But this book is quite different. It's fantastic as it's predecessor and counterpart "Christian Theology". McGrath offers a clearly written and extremely understandable outline without ever oversimplifying the matter. It's really an Introduction in the strict sense of the word, for it provides information for the beginner. But the well- ordered and clear style even make it a resource for those already familiar with different kinds of Christian Spirituality. What I appreciated most with this book is the wide perspective of the author. Probably such a book could only have been written by an Anglican like McGrath for its ecumenical scope. Where do you ever find John the Damascene, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, Augustine, James Packer etc. listed together friendly side by side. Even the delicate question of using images for personal or communal contemplation find a surprising affirmative answer by McGrath who tends to a more reformed- evangelical position himself. It's the positive evaluation of religious, especially Christian religious, enterprise as a signpost to the God of the Bible that permeats the book, which makes the reader feel so comfortable. McGrath needs not renouncing any position but gains a lot of insights from very different standpoints. Were I at university or seminary again, I would be glad to have some reliable but understandable guide in the sometimes so difficult field of theology like this. Not in this setting any longer, I'm still surprised how easy things may be, if great scholars are not too proud to let even the "poor in spirit" see what is there. I recommend this book very much.
Fine comprehensive text Nov 9, 2000
Alister McGrath has long been a master at presenting Christian theology with blessed clarity and depth, and this volume does not disappoint. Well-suited for those entirely new to Christian spirituality, and a good review and reference book for those of us who have learnt and forgotten plenty, this book is an excellent text, particularly in that the review questions ending each section help one logically connect the points and reinforce the readings.
This is not a devotional work or a seminary textbook (though, perhaps, it should be.) No truth is sacrificed in the very thorough and understandable text, which even the very young will find quite clear.