A Contemporary Apologist - Alister McGrath
Encouragement from a Contemporary Apologist Alister E. McGrath 1953 -
McGrath is in some ways, a modern Erasmus. His knowledge is prolific, his writings limpid, his commitment to the Gospel passionate, his appreciation of the Church perceptive and his theological convictions powerfully biblical. He is a theological, philosophical and apologetic evangelist and a great gift to this generation of Christians.
McGrath forsook the familial trend to study medicine and embraced biochemistry. While doing his doctorate, the evangelical witness at Oxford challenged him and he became a Christian who wanted to immediately transfer to theology. However he completed his doctorate and then proceeded with his biblical and theological studies which have led to the writing of over 40 books which aim to challenge, convert and inform the simplest to the most erudite. He is an ordained Church of England minister who has ministered in a parish in Nottingham.
Central to his theological foundation is the doctrine of justification based upon the miracle of the defeat of Good Friday being turned into resurrection on Sunday. Justification is the key doctrine of Christianity, the place of which at any time in church history is indicative of the doctrinal and spiritual health of the Church.
This is premised upon the objectivist understanding of the atonement, that “something happened” in the death of Christ which eternally changed the relationship of humanity to the Lord, following His initiative (by objectivity is meant that something is or happens, regardless of how we feel or think about a matter, in contrast to subjectivity where emotion, the self and inward reflection are more central).
However McGrath is disturbed by the irrelevance for ordinary Christians of much academic theology and philosophy, therefore because the Cross is the foundation of his thinking and living, experiencing the grace of God in Christ is pivotal, i.e. the fruits of being justified.
McGrath, with a doctorate in molecular biophysics is also keen to combat the hostile naturalism and allied atheism of Dawkins and others who distort and misrepresent the Christian faith. See Dawkin’s God.
McGrath is Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford and Principal of Wycliffe Hall. His current website is http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mcgrath/
McGrath for Preachers
- All truth is the Lord’s truth, in science, philosophy and theology.
- Evangelical theology counters dead liberalism which empties churches, is seduced by culture and does not convert lives
- The Cross dealt with the intersection of human sin and God’s redemption.
- Apologetics is important in an age of naturalism, world religions and ignorance.
- Science needs reclaiming from its naturalism through our doctrine of Creation.
- Deep study is a requirement of all who preach and teach in Christ’s name.
- Church history is vital to understanding current history.
- “An appeal to Christ is simultaneously an appeal to Scripture, just as an appeal to Scripture is an appeal to Christ”. (A Passion for Truth).
- Scripture “frees us from the slavish demand that we follow every cultural trend, and offers us a framework whereby we may judge them, as the Confessing Church chose to judge Hitler rather than follow him….
- The doctrines of creation and redemption are our apologetic starting points.
- The Cross is a great sign of hope amidst all those experiences where God appears to be absent.
- Postmodernism, with its acknowledgement of the collapse of the Enlightenment, allows the Christian faith to be its own evangelist within the realm of competing beliefs.
- Christian knowledge without Christian devotion and prayer reduces the Cross to a pre-tomb tragedy alone.
Rev Dr Robert Iles. Golden Grove SA. 2007