Item description for Studies in Doctrine: Understanding Doctrine, Understanding the Trinity, Understanding Jesus, Justification by Faith by Alister E. McGrath...
Overview Four of noted Oxford theologian and teacher Alister McGrath's earlier works are presented together here to provide a clear, accessible introduction to doctrine as well as a discussion of three key doctrines of the faith. The titles are UNDERSTANDING DOCTRINE, UNDERSTANDING THE TRINITY, UNDERSTANDING JESUS, and JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
In recent years, Alister McGrath has gained prominence as one of evangelicalism's preeminent theologians. A brilliant scholar and communicator, he combines the clarity of thought of a scientist (he holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology) with the deep convictions of a committed Christian and theologian. Studies in Doctrine contains four of McGrath's more popular theological works: Understanding Doctrine explains what doctrine is, why it is important, and what its limitations are. Understanding the Trinity moves from a superb apologetic for God's existence, to developing a concept of God, to a probing and balanced examination of the Trinity proper. Understanding Jesus is a basic, eminently readable, and surprisingly personal introduction to the person and work of Christ. Justification by Faith demonstrates how the vitality and relevance of the doctrine of justification by faith can be recovered and presented to contemporary culture. This volume gives the student and non-specialist a clear, thoughtful, and highly readable introduction to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.
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Alister E. McGrath is Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Research Lecturer in Theology at Oxford University. He is the author of numerous works in theology, including the best-selling Christian Theology: An Introduction, Second Edition (Blackwell Publishers, 1996).
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 Studies In Doctrine?
If he confirms what you already believe, you may enjoy it. Feb 28, 2009
I bought this book at the recommendation of a Presbyterian minister with whom I was discussing the Trinity. The minister said McGrath could explain and prove the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, he spends almost no time attempting to prove it. It is written for people who already believe it, but I'm not sure how much it actually would help such a person. He does all the usual reasoning by analogy without ever finding any analogy that actually works to explain the Trinity. He uses multiple contradictory analogies. He uses scripture passages in contradictory ways, using the same passage to mean one thing one place, and something opposite someplace else. I found it a hopeless muddle, but then, perhaps my expectations were too high. What can one really expect from a book that attempts to explain what even the author acknowledges is inexplicable?
It also seemed to me that the author does not exactly conform to an absolutely orthodox or creedal Trinitarianism. At times, he takes positions that sound modalistic, reasoning that the three "persons" of the Trinity are actually three "personas." But then, he goes on to contradict himself, which is not completely surprising as the doctrine is inherently contradictory, but left me unusure what he was really trying to say.
If you believe in the Trinity and want a fellow believer to meander around in speculations, some orthodox, some not, in a futile attempt to explain the incomprehensible to the lay reader, then it may be of some value to you. If you are looking for a book to prove the doctrine, either to yourself or someone else, that is not the author's intent.
Good Introductions Feb 24, 2002
Prof. Alister McGrath is a moderately conservative theologian and an ordained minister in the Church of England. He has written a large number of works, some of which are quite technical and others which are more introductory in nature. The best thing about his introductory writings is that they don't presuppose a knowledge of the subject, but at the same time they aren't simplistic.
This work is a collection of four smaller introductory works by Prof. McGrath: (1) UNDERSTANDING DOCTRINE; (2) UNDERSTANDING THE TRINITY; (3) UNDERSTANDING JESUS; and (4) JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. I think UNDERSTANDING DOCTRINE is the best because it makes a persuasive case for why doctrine -- and not just feelings -- matter.
One problem I have with this work, like some of Prof. McGrath's works, is that he frequently discusses Karl Barth (1886-1968) the well-known Swiss Reformed theologian. Barth was the principal player within the school known as "neo-orthodoxy." To some he is a towering writer of a more or less Evangelical bent, to others he is something of a modernist. Some traditional Calvinists, such as Gordon Clark and Cornelius Van Til, wrote works criticizing Barth from the Calvinist perspective. I'm not competent to say how faithful Barth was to the Reformed tradition, but Prof. McGrath owes it to his readers to point out that there is quite a controversy about this. Unfortunately he doesn't. (See, e.g., McGrath, HISTORICAL THEOLOGY, 238-39.) For a discussion of Barth from an admirer of Van Til, see John Frame: CORNELIUS VAN TIL: AN ANALYSIS OF HIS THOUGHT, 353-69.
This book isn't a "mini" systematic theology. There are all sorts of important topics that Prof. McGrath doesn't discuss (such as ecclesiology and eschatology). Nonetheless, taken as a whole, it is a good introduction to Christianity from a Protestant perspective.
Great presentation of the basics from a Reformed perspective May 28, 2001
I would have given this book a 4 1/2 if I could have. The simplicity and clarity of these combined works are outstanding. I highly reccomend it for both layity and clergy.
One thing I really like was instead of just throwing verses around, McGrath presents well reasoned arguments that cause the reader to do more than play hit and miss with proof texts. That is, the reader is taken on a well reasoned journey that draws out logical conclusions.
The first work, UNDERSTANDIND JESUS, is an introduction to Christianity's beginning, and more importantly, to Jesus Himself. It speaks of the early church and how it related to the life, death, and ressurection of Jesus Christ. This helps lead the reader to see that Christianity is more than an abstract set of ideas, but union with the person of Jesus Christ.
The second work, UNDERSTANDING THE TRINITY, is a theological treatise on the Trinity, as well as an apologetic for God's existence.
The third work, UNDERSTNDING DOCTRINE, is an introduction to scripture as a witness to the revelation of God, and as a resource to guide one in the Christian faith. The basic theme is an introduction to doctrine, its importance, its use, and its limitations.
The third book, JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH, seeks to establish and recover the importance of the doctrine of name. The purpose of this recovery is to present the doctrine in contemporary terms because the author believes that many modern Christians feel that this doctrine is irrelevant and out of date.
You get four books for the price of one, and all four are great. Maybe I should have given it five stars, but perfection may just be saying a little too much. Get the book!!!