Tuesday 9 December 2008

Alister McGrath on Christianity’s Dangerous Idea

Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution: A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First (London: SPCK, 2007), viii + 552pp., ISBN 9780281059683, £14.99.

A long but readable account of the history of Protestantism, moving from ‘origination’ (the emergence of Protestantism up to the early twentieth century), through ‘manifestation’ (what Protestantism looks like in its key ideas and attitude to culture, science, economics and politics) to ‘transformation’ (Protestantism since 1900, with globalisation and the rise of Pentecostalism). More than a historical account, however, the driving thesis of the story – the ‘dangerous idea’ of the title – is the principle that every believer has the right to interpret the Bible for themselves, thus allowing Protestantism to adapt to new situations.

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