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

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9780060822132: Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution--A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First

The "dangerous idea" lying at the heart of Protestantism is that the interpretation of the Bible is each individual's right and responsibility. The spread of this principle has resulted in five hundred years of remarkable innovation and adaptability, but it has also created cultural incoherence and social instability. Without any overarching authority to rein in "wayward" thought, opposing sides on controversial issues can only appeal to the Bible—yet the Bible is open to many diverse interpretations. Christianity's Dangerous Idea is the first book that attempts to define this core element of Protestantism and the religious and cultural dynamic that this dangerous idea unleashed, culminating in the remarkable new developments of the twentieth century.

At a time when Protestants will soon cease to be the predominant faith tradition in the United States, McGrath's landmark reassessment of the movement and its future is well-timed. Replete with helpful modern-day examples that explain the past, McGrath brings to life the Protestant movements and personalities that shaped history and the central Christian idea that continues to dramatically influence world events today.

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From the Back Cover:

In the Protestant tradition, all individuals have direct access to God without the mediation of priests or institutions to establish boundaries. The 'dangerous idea' is that there is no authority apart from the Bible--yet the Bible is open to many diverse interpretations. The result is a colorful five hundred year history of remarkable innovation and adaptability marked by seeming incoherence and instability. At a time when Protestants will cease to be the predominant faith tradition in the United States, McGrath's landmark reassessment of the movement's core identity and future is very well timed. Organized thematically in three parts-Origination, Consolidation, and Transformation-and replete with helpful modern-day examples that explain the past, McGrath brings to life the movements and personalities that shaped history and continue to shape world events today.

About the Author:

Alister E. McGrath is a 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.

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