McGrath consistently speaks out against Reformed theology. In his published works dealing with Post-Reformation theology, he has championed the position that the Calvinists who followed Calvin betrayed their mentor’s theology and came up with doctrine not in line with his. Well, this is bunk, even if it was articulated by theologians like Karl Barth and a whole host of others who have tried to tell us that Calvin was not a Calvinist. Richard Muller and others have shown, time and again, that there are clear lines of continuity between Calvin and the later Calvinists and any minor changes that occurred are merely in the packaging as the Calvinists sought to pass on the faith to their children. Yet McGrath continues to maintain a perspective that has been shown to be false and one used to dismiss the relevance of Puritan and Reformed thinking for today.
5. It is surprisingly difficult to find out what McGrath actually believes. His systematic theology text is really historical theology. There is no Scripture index and very little discussion of the meaning of actual Bible verses and how they speak to the normal loci of systematic theology. Even after a long historical presentation, he rarely if ever says, “these are the range of views presented in the history of the church, but I am persuaded that the Scriptures teach this because …” So, for example, in the chapter on “The Doctrines of Human Nature, Sin and Grace,” McGrath first discusses, “The Place of Humanity within Creation.” Genesis 1:27 is quoted and its meaning is explored by quoting and summarizing from Tertulliian, Origen, Augustine, Lactantius, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Cyril of Jerusalem, and then back to Augustine. At the end, we’re never told what McGrath believes or even how he evaluates what these theologians have taught. The questions at the end of each chapter sometimes require answers more personal than the preceding exposition of views.
6. While McGrath is identified with the evangelical movement in England, such a designation has problems. The label “evangelical” used to have meaning in the English context but it seems to me that it has less and less today. An evangelical used to refer to an orthodox Protestant who believed the gospel, aimed to share it with the whole world, and found it at the center of an inerrant and infallible Bible. Today the term is used as a self-designation by so many who believe none of this. The difference between someone who calls himself a left-wing evangelical and a liberal who reads the Bible and accepts some of what it says is non- existent. Though it is hard to tell (see above), McGrath does not hold to inerrancy (it’s a recent American innovation), and he seems open to salvation outside of explicit faith in Christ. Yet he insists on using the term “evangelical” to refer to himself, and so he is contributing to the loss of meaning for the term.
7. He is an Anglican, come what may. McGrath wrote a shameful piece just as Rowan Williams was being named the archbishop of Canterbury (and thus the head of the Anglican communion of churches). The liberal views of Williams were well known, including his approval of the ordination of homosexuals. McGrath’s piece was a “down on his knees” plea for Bible- believers not to leave the Anglican church. It calls to mind the question Lloyd-Jones put to evangelical Anglicans (and he asked it when the term still had meaning): Is there any position that, if the Anglican church took it, would cause you to leave the church? MLJ was answered with a resounding silence. There is no line in the sand and McGrath’s article helps to prove it. Nothing will cause him to do a Popeye: “that’s all I can ‘stanz,’ I can’t ‘stanz’ no more”. He is an Anglican and the phrase, “evangelical Anglican” has been voided of content.
8. His wife, Joanna Collicutt McGrath, is an ordained Anglican priestess, so we know where he stands on that one. …
“No Good News: A reply to Alistair McGrath” by Garry Williams criticizes the McGrath piece about the new archbishop. I couldn’t find the original piece.