Friday, April 11, 2014

The Heart of Christian Faith

Alister E. McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King’s College, London, and a prolific author. I have reviewed a number of his books over the last 20 years, and I have never been disappointed. Most recently, on November 1, 2013, on this blog, I reviewed McGrath’s bio of C. S. Lewis, published by Tyndale and called C. S. Lewis, a Life.

This time, McGrath is planning a five-book series to be called The Heart of Christian Faith. The first volume is called Faith and Creeds, A Guide for Study and Devotion, and is available now from www.wjkbooks.com. McGrath begins by asking a basic question: What do Christians believe and why? And what difference does it make? He plans to explore basic themes of a “simple and genuinely Christian faith,” and he is writing primarily for “ordinary “ Christians like you and me. I know his writing and I am already convinced that I will like what he says and what he is doing with this series. And you may want to pay attention, too.

In this first volume, he plans to draw on the earlier writing of “three of the great lay theologians of the twentieth century.” That would be, of course, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and Dorothy L. Sayers. But before he brings them in, he explains how he himself in his growing-up years, as one who loved science and still does, was drawn into an “inflexible atheism,” and he counted himself one of those “intellectual and cultural elite, who knew there was no God, no meaning, no purpose. Only fools believed otherwise,” he thought then.

But now he is learning to look at “the big picture,” to realize we are all on a journey, trying to make sense of the world we live in. Perhaps we could find a “core theme” that would help us realize that this world is not our home. “If nothing in this world really satisfies us,” maybe deep down we know “that our heart’s desire is anchored elsewhere.” Let’s look and see what we can discover, he says. Let’s look at the map, the lens and the light, he says, and see what we can learn. Then he talks about faith, belief, and creeds.

McGrath encourages us to “step into the big picture,” and ask ourselves: “Why do we think this is true; How can we make sense of it and best explain it; and What difference does it make in the way we live our lives? There is a lot to think about here. Alister McGrath is the guide we need as we consider together the opening words of the creeds: “I believe.... we believe.....” Come join us in McGrath’s new series, The Heart of Christian Faith. Volume 2 is called The Living God.

—Lois Sibley