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Christianity’s Dangerous Idea
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Christianity’s Dangerous Idea


SPCK 2007

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Chrstianity’s Dangerous Idea presents a new interpretation of Protestantism and its impact on the world. The radical idea that individuals could interpret the Bible for themselves spawned a revolution that is still being played out on the world stage today. This innovation lies at the heart of Protestantism’s remarkable instability and adaptability. World-renowned scholar Alister McGrath sheds new light on the fascinating figures and movements that continue to inspire debate and division across the full spectrum of Protestant churches and communities worldwide.

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Key Features

  • Discusses the history of biblical interpretation and what place that has in the history of the church
  • Examines the big idea at the heart of Protestantism
  • Provides three distinct sections in order to show the developments of greatest historical significance


  • Part I: Origination
    • The Gathering Storm
    • The Accidental Revolutionary
    • Alternatives to Luther
    • The Shift in Power
    • England
    • War, Peace, and Disinterest
    • Protestantism in America
    • The Nineteenth Century
  • Part II: Manifestation
    • The Bible and Protestantism
    • Believing and Belonging
    • The Structures of Faith
    • Protestantism and the Shaping of Western Culture
    • Protestantism, the Arts, and the Natural Sciences
  • Part III: Transformation
    • The Changing Shape of American Protestantism
    • Tongues of Fire
    • The New Frontiers of Protestantism
    • Protestantism

Praise for the Print Edition

This is McGrath’s third book title borrowed from his atheist bête noir Richard Dawkins. But don’t let the titular borrowings fool you—this is an original and important book. Someone had to imitate the long, popular works of history being written on secular subjects from Lewis & Clark to FDR, and McGrath has the theological and historical expertise necessary to tell a story stretching from the Reformation’s origins in the sixteenth century to today. The dangerous idea was Martin Luther’s: that individual believers could and should read the Bible for themselves. The result was occasionally violent (as in the peasants’ revolt and the English Civil War), occasionally brilliant (musicians like Bach, theologians like Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, poets like Milton) and certainly world altering (the Calvinist Reformation clearing space for the rise of secular science and capitalism). McGrath concludes not with the faith practices of present-day England or America, but with the increasingly Pentecostal global south. The book occasionally falls into the dry tone of a textbook and assumes points that historians would want to debate, but is still the most readable introduction to the history, theology, and present-day practices of Protestantism.

Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • Title: Christianity’s Dangerous Idea
  • Author: Alister McGrath
  • Publisher: SPCK
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 576

About Alister McGrath

Alister E. McGrath is aN historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States.