The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide, By Gerald R. McDermott
The Great Theologians
  • Length: 214 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: February 08, 2010
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3875
  • ISBN: 9780830838752

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Who are the church's great theologians? What was special about their teaching? What can we learn from them today?

Gerald McDermott has written this book for those who want a solid introduction that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Provocative but satisfying. And not too long. McDermott not only informs us about eleven pivotal theologians from Origen to von Balthasar, but helps us sort out what is of continuing value today.

With study questions at the end of each chapter, this book is perfect for small groups to go through together. As you do, you'll explore your shared theological history and uncover more about what and why you believe. Here's your chance to think with "the greats" about God.

"For many the 'great theologians' seem intimidating. Yet McDermott offers reliable guidance to the uninitiated, making their thought accessible to readers who have never cracked open Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica or John Calvin's Institutes. His presentation of eleven theologians' lives, loves, careers, books, insights, quirks and bloopers is engaging and--dare one say it?--entertaining. This slender volume offers a draft of pure water for the theological soul, and will leave its readers thirsting for more."

Michael McClymond, Department of Theology, Saint Louis University

"This handy volume offers an excellent introduction to some of the leading theologians in the history of the church--a wonderful guide to what the theologians call the 'Great Tradition.' If you have been looking for something to help you understand the thought of these titans, search no further. McDermott's book is what you need."

Douglas A. Sweeney, Professor of Church History and History of Christian Thought Director, Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding,Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"First-rate scholar Gerald McDermott employs effective prose without becoming prosaic and so provides us a wonderfully catholic and evangelical book that gives Christian theology its proper place in renewal for the health of the church."

John H. Armstrong, President, ACT 3, and author of Your Church Is Too Small

"In this excellent guide McDermott introduces outsiders to some of the heroes of his theological tribe. His writing is clear and lively, his selection ecumenical, his assessments judicious. Every Christian is a theologian, called to speak to and about God, and The Great Theologians will make many Christians better theologians by sharing the wisdom the Spirit has disclosed to these notable theologians."

Peter J. Leithart, Senior Fellow, New St. Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho, and author of Solomon Among the Postmoderns

"The Great Theologians succeeds as a concise guide that will serve well in congregational libraries as a source of basic information on the development of Christian thought."

Monica Tenney, Congregational Libraries Today, Third Issue 2010

A helpful book that introduces the reader to 11 major theologians. General readers with an interest in Christianity or Christian theology will likely find this book an interesting and helpful place to start.

John Jaegar, Library Journal, February 1, 2010



1 Why study theology?
2 Origen - oft-reviled but "the greatest teacher after the apostles"
3 Athanasius - the black monk who saved the faith
4 Augustine - the most influential theologian ever
5 Thomas Aquinas - the teacher of the Catholic Church
6 Martin Luther - the monk who rose up against heaven and earth
7 John Calvin - greatest theologian of the Reformed tradition
8 Jonathan Edwards - "America's theologian"
9 Friedrich Schleiermacher - father of liberal theology
10 John Henry Newman - the Anglican theologian who swam the Tiber
11 Karl Barth - most influential 20th-century theologian
12 Hans Urs von Balthasar - stellar Catholic theologian of the twentieth century
13 What these theologians teach us about theology



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Gerald R. McDermott

Gerald R. McDermott (PhD, University of Iowa) is Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also associate pastor at Christ the King Anglican Church. His books include The Other Jonathan Edwards: Readings in Love, Society, and Justice (with Ronald Story), The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (with Michael McClymond), A Trinitarian Theology of Religions (with Harold Netland), Cancer: A Medical and Spiritual Guide (with William Fintel, MD), Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods and World Religions: An Indispensable Guide.