When it comes to contemporary works on Christian history is Alister McGrath writes it, I read it. He blends excellent scholarship with clear writing that makes important events or ideas accessible. His significant work 'Reformation Thought' has not entered its fourth edition and continues to be an important work in the study of the Protestant Reformation. There has been persistent development in the study of the Reformation, the Renaissance which preceded it, the political issues surrounding it and it's lasting influence into the present. For these reasons it is necessary to update an already outstanding text in order to address these new developments.
McGrath is clear that this text is intended for those who may know little of Christian theology yet wish to understand the Reformation. His insistence upon seeing theology as the central player is a welcome focus. Some historians see this cultural upheaval as primarily sociopolitical with some theological "window-dressing". Others see it only in terms of doctrine with little to no concern for the sociopolitical. Yet, McGrath understands that it is a complicated world in which we live and we cannot divorce any of those issues from one another - especially a world with the crown and the cross so intermingled as Renaissance Europe!
He clearly addresses issues of doctrine and the key position they held throughout the Reformation. McGrath does this with sensitivity and accuracy. Yet, he also deftly explores cultural influences that had bearing upon the politics of the crown as well as the papacy. He navigates all of the many pieces at play during this time with his trademark skill. Anyone looking to understand the theological and sociopolitical world of the Protestant Reformation - and it's present influence - would do well to look nowhere else but this latest edition of 'Reformation Thought'.