Systematic Theology – Grudem
Do you like one-stop shopping? I absolutely despise having to make four or five stops to get what I need, probably typical for a guy. We may feel very similarly about learning about our faith as Christians. Why pull an assortment of books off the shelf when one will give you what you need? Why order a bunch of books when you already have what you need? Of course, any excuse to order more books works, but I really like the idea that one volume has the information on any topic that I might require.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine is just such a book. Please note that this massive tome is 1200+ pages. Since our goal here is one stop shopping in a theological book, this is a good thing, but get ready to work out while holding it as you read. This book requires us to flex our minds as well as our bodies.
Why do I feel that this is a life-changing book? Well, having served since 2005 in both pastoral ministry and theological studies, I have turned to this book time and time again for answers to my questions. Reading this book cover to cover will deeply benefit you, but using it for reference for any nuance of theological studies will also give you the information you need. You will even find other books on each topic listed so that you can consult them for further information. If your thirst for knowledge exceeds the one stop shop method, this book can take you as far as you want to go. Remember: we are all about the books.
Wayne Grudem is a Reformed Baptist with impressive credentials. He has degrees from Harvard, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Cambridge. He has served as a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. His ministry has included such accomplishments as serving as the general editor of the ESV Study Bible and on the translation oversight committee for the English Standard Version Bible. He has written extensively with The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. His accomplishments certainly have earned him an ear in the Christian community. In order to understand the context from which this author writes, it is important to know that he is reformed, baptistic, complementarian in gender roles, covenental, and noncessationist. These views definitely are apparent in his systematic theology volume; however, he does an outstanding job representing all other views as well. While he writes on eschatology from a decidedly historic premillennial position, he explains passages in terms of dispensational hermeneutics. On a whole, this book is academic, pastoral, and devotional. That’s what makes this such a tremendous volume. It has application in the academic classroom, the pulpit, as well as the Christian’s prayer closet.
One of the most beneficial values of this book is the accompanying resources available. Because it has become a standard in seminaries, many related products have been released, including a laminated study sheet. Systematic Theology has been released in both print form and digital publishing via Kindle. With both, this book is with me at all times. A condensed version is also available if 1200 pages is a bit much for you.
Among the sections found in this volume are The Doctrine of the Word of God, The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Humanity, The Doctrine of Christ and the Holy Spirit, The Doctrine of Redemption, The Doctrine of the Church, and The Doctrine of the Future (eschatology.) Varied, rich appendixes cover issues ranging from scripture memory verses to a list of all Systematic Theologies that are referenced throughout the volume. Many treatments of theology lack a glossary, but Grudem even includes that in the back of his book. For the student of theology who is unfamiliar with the jargon typically used, this is critically valuable.
It is impossible to comment on everything that Grudem covers, but I wish to commend one particular area of writing: Grudem’s take on eschatology is wonderful, particularly true of the chapter dealing with the nature of the millennium. Many Christians do not like to talk about end times because they find the book of Revelation to be very difficult. Even as a pastor, I remember shying away from this kind of teaching. I once preached the first 3 chapters of Revelation because there is much application easily reached to churches of any era, but then I segued into a different sermon series because I did not feel that I had many answers to common questions. I did not wish to divide the congregation over one interpretation or another and was unsure how to approach this. The interpretation of imagery in Revelation can be intimidating: the bowls, the trumpets, the beasts, the elders, the scrolls. Nothing seems to correlate directly to life as we know it. Grudem presents massive amounts of information from each of the viewpoints – dispensational premillennialism, amillennialism, postmillennialism, his own historic premillennialism, and preterisms of different stripes. He provides the answers so many inherent questions; it made me far more comfortable to deal with questions and discussion about end times without fear and trembling. This book was extremely helpful in my own journey toward determining what the Bible truly teaches about not only end times, but soteriology, ecclesiology, scripture, sin, and theology proper. Any questions that may arise are answered in this text. You can see why I pull this book off of my shelf frequently. (To be perfectly honest, I use the digital version probably much more often for the ability to cut and paste.)
If you are looking for one theology book that you can use on any topic, Grudem’s Systematic Theology is the place to go. Are you looking for a gift for a new Christian? This book is readable and understandable. Are you a seminary student? This book presents enough academic value to be well used. Are you a pastor? You will undoubtedly turn to this volume for many sermons and teachings. Across the board, this is a book of great value and usefulness. Truly, it changed my life and continues to do so as I seek to learn more about God’s Word. Why not revolutionize your spiritual life today? Make this volume a companion to your Bible. You won’t regret the time you spend reading either one.
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