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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution - A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Alister McGrath

Strong, but not for those who are not well-versed in history 

Alister McGrath
Let me just note that Alister McGrath has taken on a large topic (Protestantism) in Christianity's Dangerous Idea and done about as well as one can in organizing the information and presenting it in a cogent and readable fashion.

McGrath assumes that you already know a lot about history in general and about the last 500 years or so in particular. That is to be expected. If he had to explain every last detail this book it would have to have been 3,000 pages rather than the already hefty 478 pages of text plus 50+ pages of endnotes. If you are a person that has heard of the Huguenots, but is not sure if they are a native group in South Africa or a religious group in France, this book is not for you.

This is not a complete history, either. It is an overview. If you are looking for a complete history of a particular denomination, you are likely to be disappointed. Some denominations are completely overlooked (African Methodist Episcopal), some are largely overlooked (Southern Baptists) and McGrath does not even address the thornier issue of whether the Mormons are Protestant, even though they are obviously came from the Protestant tradition.

McGrath does a good job of tying the Protestant Reformation into the larger Renaissance movements of the day. He makes strong arguments for Protestantism as a supporter for democratic ideals and capitalism. His comments about the lessening of tensions between Protestantism and Catholicism due to the stronger common threat of Islam and especially secularism were well-stated and dead on correct, in my mind.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Christianity's Dangerous Idea

Reviewed on July 12, 2008.

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