Ian Ramsey Centre


Re-Imagining Nature: The Promise of a Christian Natural Theology

Published 2016

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Reimagining Nature is a new introduction to the fast developing area of natural theology, written by one of the world’s leading theologians. The text engages in serious theological dialogue whilst looking at how past developments might illuminate and inform theory and practice in the present. This text sets out to explore what a properly Christian approach to natural theology might look like and how this relates to alternative interpretations of our experience of the natural world.

Alister McGrath is ideally placed to write the book as one of the world’s best known theologians and a chief proponent of natural theology. This new work offers an account of the development of natural theology throughout history and informs of its likely contribution in the present. This account also feeds into current debates about the relationship between science and religion, and religion and the humanities. It engages in serious theological dialogue, primarily with Augustine, Aquinas, Barth and Brunner, and includes the work of natural scientists, philosophers of science, and poets.

About the author

ALISTER MCGRATH is currently Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford; he was previously Professor of Theology and Education at King’s College, London. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading Protestant theologians and is the author of some of the world’s most widely used theological textbooks, including the bestselling Science and Religion (Wiley–Blackwell, 2010), Christianity (Wiley–Blackwell, 2015), Christian Theology (Wiley–Blackwell, 2016), and The Christian Theology Reader, (5th edition, 2016). He is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world, especially in Southeast Asia


  • Chapter 1: Natural Theology: Questions of Definition and Scope / 6
  • Chapter 2: Natural Theology and the Christian Imaginarium / 41
  • Chapter 3: Text, Image, and Sign: On Framing the Natural World / 69 
  • Chapter 4: Natural Theology: Contexts and Motivations / 101
  • Chapter 5: Natural Theology: Some Concerns and Challenges / 128
  • Chapter 6: The Promise of a Christian Natural Theology / 154

Review comments

“Encounter this book with enormous respect. In this remarkable text, McGrath is judicious, audacious, and perceptive. Setting the entire project of Natural Theology in an historical context, he weaves together an account of natural theology that is innovative, powerful and intriguing. Critics and advocates for Natural Theology alike will have their worldview changed as they encounter this remarkable argument.”

Ian S. Markham, Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary

"This theological book emerges from a deep and integrating vision of creation – the natural world appreciated through the Christian imaginarium. Composed in crystalline prose, McGrath explores the complexity of theologia naturalis in a way that is both insightful and erudite. He enriches the particularities of place with a spiritually always and only historically and culturally localised. In a time of global ecological concerns, this is a much needed labour. Christians need to engage these concerns, rooting them profoundly in a thick account of reality and what it is to be alive. There′s a promise of transformation in doing this, and McGrath knows it. This book is an exciting testimony to the imaginative power behind that promised potential."

Graham Ward, University of Oxford

“In this game–changing book, Alister McGrath develops a thick theology of nature from a distinctly Christian point of view. He expertly tackles topics that are underexplored in traditional natural theology, such as the moral and aesthetic ambiguity of nature, emphasising the importance of both rational and imaginative ways of engaging with nature.”

Helen de Cruz, Oxford Brookes University

“Being informed about natural theology is essential to any substantive understanding of the relationship of science and theology. The present book nicely sums up and carries further his indispensable contributions to the topic.”

John F Haught, author of Science and Faith: A New Introduction

“In contemporary theology, the project of natural theology has many opponents. In his latest book, Re–Imagining Nature, McGrath presents an ambitious vision for retrieving a holistic Christian understanding of natural theology that goes beyond the rationalistic proofs of God’s existence of the 19th century. By stressing the imaginative powers of human beings and not just rational ones, McGrath defends a thick and contextual but at the same time traditional model of Christian natural theology as a way of seeing the world. A stellar addition to the contemporary literature on natural theology.”

Aku Visala, University of Helsinki