Reformation Thought: An Introduction

Reformation Thought: An Introduction

Reformation Thought: An Introduction

Reformation Thought: An Introduction


Reformation Thought, 4th edition offers an ideal introduction to the central ideas of the European reformations for students of theology and history. Written by the bestselling author and renowned theologian, Alister McGrath, this engaging guide is accessible to students with no prior knowledge of Christian theology.
  • This new edition of a classic text has been updated throughout with the very latest scholarship
  • Includes greater coverage of the Catholic reformation, the counter-reformation, and the impact of women on the reformation
  • Explores the core ideas and issues of the reformation in terms that can be easily understood by those new to the field
  • Student-friendly features include images, updated bibliographies, a glossary, and a chronology of political and historical ideas

This latest edition retains all the features which made the previous editions so popular with readers, while McGrath's revisions have ensured it remains the essential student guide to the subject.


The European Reformation of the sixteenth century is one of the most fascinating areas of study available to the historian. It also continues to be of central importance to anyone interested in the history of the Christian church or its religious ideas. The Reformation embraced a number of quite distinct, yet overlapping, areas of human activity: the reform of both the morals and structures of church and society, new approaches to political issues, shifts in economic thinking, the renewal of Christian spirituality, and the reform of Christian doctrine. It was a movement based upon a more or less coherent set of ideas, which were believed to be capable of functioning as the foundation of a program of reform.

But what were those ideas? How may their origins be accounted for? And how were they modified by the social conditions of the period? One serious difficulty – indeed, perhaps the most serious difficulty – facing today ‘s historian of the sixteenth - century Reformation is the strangeness of the ideas underlying it. The term “theology” has been used by Christians since the third century to mean “talking about God.” The word can be used to refer to both the core ideas of the Christian faith, and the academic discipline which reflects on these ideas.

Many modern students of the Reformation know little about Christian theology. For example, the great theological slogan “justification by faith alone” seems incomprehensible to many students of this era, as do the intricacies of the sixteenth - century debates over the Eucharist. Why should these apparently obscure issues have caused such a storm at the time? There is an obvious temptation for the student of the Reformation to avoid engaging with the ideas of the movement and to treat it as a purely social phenomenon.

This book is written in the conviction that there are many who will not be prepared to rest content with this superficial engagement with the ideas of . . .

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