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Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Hardcover – January 3, 1995
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'“As a theology professor at Biola University where our students have to take three semesters of Christian doctrine I feel like I co-teach all my classes with Wayne Grudem. His Systematic Theology provides the core theology content for all my classes and most of the other undergraduate theology courses at the University. It excels in its clarity, readability, and biblically based approach that seeks to get theology into real life. Systematic Theology consistently accomplishes its obvious goal throughout---to lead the reader to greater knowledge and worship of the God of the Bible.' Talbot School of Theology of Biola University -- K. Erik Thoennes
“Our college has chosen this work as a standard textbook for all theology students over the last 10 years. No other theology text combines readability, range of views, and the ever-essential quality of reinforcing our systematic theologies with scripture… Each chapter closes with application questions, special terms, additional bibliography, a cross-section of other systematic texts with page numbers, a passage for memory, and a hymn…all centered on the theology of that chapter. A treasure chest of theological resource and relevance---and that’s only the end of each chapter!” Toccoa Falls College -- W. Brian Shelton
From the Author
Wayne Grudem is professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinitiy Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He holds degrees from Harvard (B.A.), Westminster Seminary (M.Div.), and Cambridge (Ph.D.). He is the co-editor of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
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Grudem's Systematic Theology has been the central text in a Systematic Theology Course I've been taking. Grudem diligently explores the detailed scriptural case for Calvinist theology and the TULIP tradition. Grudem's ability to skillfully move across and among traditions and understandings is remarkable. I thought it was extremely useful that Grudem provides references for each chapter into the parallels of other denominational systematic theologies inclusive of about every Trinitarian Christian tradition. Grudem considers the case for each of the reasoning's and the ordo salutis within a reader friendly and complete framework to be considered, rethought, resolved and perhaps settled adequately for the reader.
Having read other Systematic Theologies, I found that Grudem's presentation delivers the best scriptural to theology "processology" that I've encountered. I followed a number of his trails through both scripture and history as initiated by Grudem's thinking for the sheer enjoyment of deep drilling a topic. I thoroughly enjoy an author that provides the `Ah Ha' moment in matters that I've randomly thought about but had never seen expressed ... there were a number of these gems here.
Grudem is writing from a Calvinist perspective. 4.5-5 letter Calvinists should find that Grudem's Systematic Theology is a 5-star reading/study experience. If you aren't leaning from Arminian to Calvinist, read another variation on Systematic Theology.
A great reference book; a great read-through!
Second, there is a wide margin on the sides of each page and plenty of space at the end of each chapter to allow students to make notes. I made a great use of these for writing important points and summary of Scriptural passages, as well as answering the questions at the end of the chapter.
Third, Grudem cares more about the heart than the head though by no means he neglects the element of reason in the study of God's Word. In fact, he works very hard to explain each topic logically as much as possible. The reason I said as much as possible is there are cases where you can only go so far before you seem to arrive at a dead end yet with awe and wonder at the glory of the mysteries of God in such cases as the doctrines of the Trinity, hypostatic union of the humanity and divinity of Christ, the exhaustive foreknowledge of God and human responsibility, the aseity, eternality, and omnipresence of God. Though unquestionably there are mysteries in these, yet I should say they are beautiful mysteries, that cause the heart to stand in awe and bow in worship to the majesty, the greatness, the brilliance, the unsearchableness of the God of the Bible.
The fact Grudem's chief aim is the heart with the head being the means to reach out to the heart is clearly seen in the type of questions he asks at the end of each chapter. Instead of asking, "What is Apollonarianism? How is it different from Nestorianism?" or "List the passages of Scriptures that talk about regeneration," he asks the students questions like, "How can a clearer understanding of Jesus' humanity help you face temptation? How can it help you to pray? What are the most difficult situations in your life right now? Can you think of any similar situations that Jesus might have faced? Does that encourage you to pray confidently to Him?" (p. 563) or "Have you been born again? Is there evidence of the new birth in your life?" (p. 706). No wonder the heading of these questions is "Questions for Personal Application" not "Questions for Exam Preparation." I do not neglect the importance of understanding technical terms, but I agree with Grudem that it is more important to ask the question what these terms mean for me or how they would help me to know God deeper and in a more personal way and to savor Him more in my heart.
Fourth, Grudem is sensitive enough to care about the issues and challenges being faced today by the Church. He covers the topics of evolution, the age of the universe, and the age of the human race (p.275-309) with a solid grip on the Bible and a commendable wisdom. He also includes the discussions on a seemingly perennial debate between Arminians and Calvinists, Continualists and Cessationists, and answers to the modern challenges to the roles of man and woman (p.456-467), the penal-substitutionary atonement of Christ, specifically the moral-influence theory and the example theory (p. 581-582) as well as the doctrine of hell (p.1150-1153) commonly advocated by the emergent church.
Fifth, the fact Grudem does his best to teach from what he believes the Bible teaches can be seen in that he does not simply carry the fundamental pre-suppositions from his denomination or his mentors or almamaters. It means that just because he is a Baptist doesn't mean he has to teach Cessationism or Pre-millenialism, or because he went to school at Westminster doesn't mean he has to be a Paedobaptist or a Calvinist. He is a Calvinist, Pre-millenialist, Credobaptist, and Continualist because he firmly believes the Bible teaches so and he does an excellent job laying out the biblical arguments as the basis of his views.
Sixth, the manner he handles doctrinal differences is respectful and irenic, but not wishy-washy. For example, rather than inciting hostility between Continualists and Cessationists with inflammatory words, Grudem pointed out both camps need each other. This is indeed something to learn for Christians who delight in controversies, divisions, and squabbling over matters of secondary importance. The argument I often hear is that Jesus was harsh against the Pharisees, so were the reformers toward their opponents and therefore, we have to be like them right? No, we don't. First, we are not Jesus. Second, the so-called opponents we tend to butt heads with in our case are often fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, not unbelievers. Third, the reformers were not infallible. Just because they did something, it doesn't mean they did the right thing. Fourth, Paul warns severely against divisive people (e.g., Titus 3:9-10, Rom 16:17). Fifth, Paul on the contrary, appeals for unity (e.g., Eph 4:3, 1 Cor 1:10, Phil 2:2) among believers, while not tolerating false teaching in direct opposition to cardinal Christian doctrines (e.g., Gal 1:8).
I am greatly benefited not only through the technical content of the book, but also more importantly from the way Grudem makes it deeply personal. I studied it for 8 months and it was an unforgettably rich and blessed experience. It is my prayer that the Lord would bless the readers with the same.