Book Reviews

Microview: “The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation” by Alister McGrath

ioer-mcgrathIt’s Reformation Month and I unfortunately haven’t been able to write as much as I’ve been able to in the past years on the Reformation, but I’d like to focus here on one of the several books on the topic I read this month. Check out the links for more of my writing on the Reformation.

Alister McGrath’s The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation is a brief introduction to various strands of thought which led to the Reformation. Although brief (the main text is less than 200 pages), it is utterly filled with insights and information for those interested in the period. McGrath skillfully demonstrates that the Reformation was not an all-at-once, sui generis event. Instead, there were a number of developments throughout the Medieval period that led to the success and generation of the Reformation.

Among the insights provided by McGrath, his analysis of humanism and its relationship with Reformation thought was particularly helpful. He showed that the Reformation did not rely as much upon humanism as is often alleged, while also describing the various ways in which humanist and Reformation thought interacted.

Overall, the book is a much-needed work on the background to the Reformation. Anyone who is interested in studying the development of thought in this period or in Reformation theology should read this excellent book.


I discuss the origins of the European Reformations and how many of its debates carry on into our own day. The debates that took place during the Reformation continue on into today’s theological discussions.

The Church Universal: Reformation Review–  What makes a church part of the Church Universal? What makes a church part of the true church? I write on these topics (and more!) and their origins in the Reformation.

Who Interprets Scripture? Sola Scriptura, the Reformation, and the modern era: Reformation Review– I investigate the notion of “sola scriptura” and its different applications in interpreting Scripture. I particularly emphasize the problem of doctrinal unity and the various ways church bodies have dealt with these difficulties from the Reformation into today.

The Continuing Influence of the Reformation: Our lives, our thoughts, our theology- Reformation review– I examine how the issues which came up during the Reformation continue to influence almost every aspect of our lives today. Theology matters.

Women in the Reformation: Hope, Silence, and Circumstance– I explore the role of women throughout the Reformation period from different angles.


Alister E. McGrath b, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003).



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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


2 thoughts on “Microview: “The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation” by Alister McGrath

  1. Interesting thesis that McGrath bring forth concerning the relationship of Humanists with the Reformers! From what I understood previously, there is a stronger relationship given how most of the Reformers’ background were in reading things from the sources, etc., that’s characteristic of humanism. I need to get a hold of this work one of these days

    Posted by SLIMJIM | November 1, 2014, 7:41 PM


  1. Pingback: Sunday Quote!- Sola Scriptura and Reading the Bible | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - December 7, 2014

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