Skip to main content


Theology: The Basic Readings, 3rd Edition

Alister E. McGrath (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-119-15818-9 November 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 280 Pages


This highly successful and popular book is now available in a thoroughly expanded and updated new edition. Alister E. McGrath, one of the world’s leading theologians, provides readers with a concise and balanced introduction to Christianity as it has been interpreted by many of its greatest thinkers and commentators, from its beginning to the modern day.

Theology: The Basic Readings, 3rd Edition comprises sixty-eight readings spanning twenty centuries of Christian history. To help readers engage with the material, each reading is accompanied by an introduction, comments, study questions, and a helpful glossary of terms used by its author.

  • Readings are drawn from a broad theological spectrum and include both historical and contemporary, mainstream, and cutting-edge approaches
  • Uses the Apostles’ Creed as a framework to introduce readers to writings on key issues, such as faith, God, Jesus, creation, and salvation
  • Represents two thousand years of sustained critical reflection within western Christianity
  • Encourages readers to interact with each text and to engage with primary sources
  • Serves as an ideal companion to the bestselling, Theology: The Basics or as a standalone text

Theology: The Basic Readings, 3rd Edition is an essential guide to the topics, themes, controversies, and reflections on Christianity as they have been understood by many of its greatest commentators.

Acknowledgments ix

How to Use This Book xiii

How to Engage a Reading xvi

Christian Theology: A Historical Overview xviii

The Apostles’ Creed xxv

Chapter 1 Faith 1

1.1 Augustine of Hippo on the theological use of secular philosophy 3

1.2 Vincent of L´erins on tradition and theology 6

1.3 John Calvin on the nature of faith 9

1.4 Karl Barth on revelation and the Word of God 12

1.5 Emil Brunner on revelation and reason 15

1.6 Paul Tillich on the nature of theology 18

1.7 C. S. Lewis on myths in theology 21

1.8 John Paul II on faith and reason 24

Chapter 2 God 27

2.1 Athenagoras of Athens on the Christian God 29

2.2 Thomas Aquinas on analogies of God 32

2.3 J¨urgen Moltmann on the suffering of God 35

2.4 Hans Urs von Balthasar on the glory of God 38

2.5 Elizabeth A. Johnson on female analogies for God 41

2.6 Sarah Coakley on vulnerability and God 44

Chapter 3 Creation 47

3.1 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on human nature 49

3.2 Jonathan Edwards on the beauty of creation 52

3.3 William Paley on the contrivance of nature 55

3.4 John Henry Newman on natural religion 58

3.5 G. K.Chesterton on the doctrine of creation 61

3.6 Dorothy L. Sayers on creation and evil 64

3.7 John Polkinghorne on creation and science 67

Chapter 4 Jesus 70

4.1 Athanasius of Alexandria on the incarnation 72

4.2 Leo the Great on the two natures of Christ 75

4.3 Martin K¨ahler on the “Jesus of history” 78

4.4 George Tyrrell on modern views of Jesus 81

4.5 Austin Farrer on the incarnation and suffering 84

4.6 Morna D. Hooker on Chalcedon and the New Testament 87

4.7 N. T.Wright on Jesus and the identity of God 91

Chapter 5 Salvation 94

5.1 Rufinus of Aquileia on Christ’s death as a victory 96

5.2 Maximus the Confessor on the economy of salvation 99

5.3 Anselm of Canterbury on satisfaction for sin 102

5.4 F.D. E. Schleiermacher on Christ as redeemer 106

5.5 Bernard Lonergan on the rationality of salvation 109

5.6 Colin Gunton on the language of salvation 112

5.7 Rosemary Radford Ruether on suffering and redemption 115

Chapter 6 Spirit 118

6.1 Ambrose of Milan on the divinity of the spirit 120

6.2 John of Damascus on the Holy Spirit 123

6.3 The Formula of Concord on the Spirit and human renewal 125

6.4 Charles Gore on the Holy Spirit and redemption 128

6.5 Henry Barclay Swete on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity 131

6.6 John Webster on the distinctiveness of the Spirit 134

6.7 John Meyendorff on the Spirit and the Trinity 137

Chapter 7 Trinity 140

7.1 Irenaeus of Lyons on the trinitarian faith 142

7.2 The Eleventh Council of Toledo on the Trinity 145

7.3 Richard of St Victor on the Trinity as a community of love 148

7.4 Karl Rahner on the economic Trinity 150

7.5 John Macquarrie on the function of the Trinity 153

7.6 Robert Jenson on the Trinity as God’s name 156

7.7 Catherine Mowry LaCugna on the Trinity and the Christian life 159

Chapter 8 Church 162

8.1 Martin Luther on the nature of the church 164

8.2 Lesslie Newbigin on a missionary ecclesiology 167

8.3 The Second Vatican Council on the church 170

8.4 George Dragas on Orthodox ecclesiology 173

8.5 Stanley Hauerwas on the church and the Christian story 176

8.6 Leonardo Boff on the reinvention of the church 179

Chapter 9 Sacraments 182

9.1 Cyril of Jerusalem on the meaning of baptism 184

9.2 Huldrych Zwingli on the real presence 187

9.3 The Council of Trent on transubstantiation 190

9.4 The World Council of Churches on baptism 193

9.5 Rowan Williams on the sacraments as signs 196

9.6 Benedict XVI on the eucharist 199

Chapter 10 Heaven 202

10.1 Cyprian of Carthage on paradise as the Christian homeland 204

10.2 Methodius of Olympus on the resurrection body 207

10.3 Peter Abelard on the hope of heaven 210

10.4 John Wesley on the final restoration of nature 213

10.5 The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the resurrection 216

10.6 Wolfhart Pannenberg on eschatology and evil 219

10.7 Kathryn Tanner on eternal life 222

A Brief Glossary of Theological Terms 225

Sources of Readings 239

Index 245