This is an excellent SystematicTheology written in a manner the non-scholar can benefit and enjoy. This is much needed today to make systematic theology approachable and understandable to all.
A Systematics Text for the 21st Century
Wayne Grudem's credentials are impeccable (Harvard, Westminster, and Cambridge), his performance in ministry has been stellar (by all accounts), and his work as an author is exceptional. If you are a theologically conservative evangelical then this is the Systematics text for our time. Take the traditional outline that most of us are familiar with through Berkhof, and then add an emphasis on the passions as well. Grudem does not merely engage the brain with doctrine, he also addresses spiritual zeal and ardour as regards his topic. Each chapter ends with a hymn or praise song which is especially suited to his subject matter. I teach men that are preparing for pastoral ministry and church planting, and time and time again, having gotten their Systematics text, my students read it like a devotional! They are usually way ahead of where we are in our classroom time because they are actually reading a work of systematic theology sheerly for pleasure. There are free MP3's available online of Grudem teaching the subject matter in the book, which can help you if you'd like to facilitate a study of this book. It is a fine piece of work, and a reference tool that won't grow old or outdated for a long time.
I read a lot of Amazon reviews of SystematicTheology books before selecting Wayne Grudem's. I wanted one that gives the Reformed (Calvinist) view. I have not attended seminary or Bible college, but I have read a bit of Luther, Calvin, Packer, and Sproul. I was drawn to this book because of reviews that said it is reformed, readable, and accessible to lay persons. I am pleased with this book. It is readable and compatible with my views on most elements of the Christian faith. Grudem writes with conviction that his views are correct, but without malice or hostility towards other views that are within orthodox Christianity. There are plenty of references to Scripture, sometimes quoting the text and sometimes only giving the reference. He looks to Scripture as the greatest source for resolving theological disagreements, and often provides insights and Biblical references that had not occurred to me.
Some of the views promoted by this book are Calvinist soteriology, inerrancy of the Bible, the full deity and humanity of Jesus, the virgin birth, non-cessation of spiritual gifts, complementarian gender roles, believer baptism and post-tribulation premillinial eschatology.
I generally adhere to the view that one must read the entire book before writing a review, but this is a somewhat massive book by my standards. It is a book that you can read the chapters in almost any order. So here are my comments on some parts of the book.
Chapter 15, Creation, starts with beliefs that all Christians hold, and moves toward areas of disagreement and uncertainty, winding up with the young earth/old earth views, whether "day" means 24 hours, and several views of evolution. Grudem is not very decisive but somewhat favors the 24 hour day and young earth views. He is more decisive in other chapters.
Chapter 26, The Person of Christ, affirms the virgin birth and explains why it is important. Much of the chapter deals with Jesus' human nature and divine nature and the relationship between the two; the sinlessness of Jesus; the kenosis theory is rejected. The chapter has topics that I didn't need - Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism.
Chapter 52, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Part 1, lists gifts identified in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, and 1 Peter. The book uses an outline format that helps the reader keep oriented as to what is being discussed, and to search for particular topics. There is more extensive discussion of whether some gifts, such as prophecy, have ceased since the death of the apostles. Grudem favors the view that all the gifts continue to this day, and some will cease at the second coming of Jesus. There is considerable discussion of the opposing view as given by Robert L. Reymond and others. Grudem acknowledges the special status of Scripture; prophecy is subordinate to Scripture, and no new Scripture is being added to the canon. Grudem accepts A.D. 90 for the writing of Revelation, so I expect that I will have difficulty with some of his eschatology.
The book has a very nice binding, font, paper, and layout. It is large and weighs 4.1 pounds, making it somewhat hard to hold, so a two-volume printing would be better in some respects.
This systematictheology text will be a treasure for years to come. Wayne Grudem is a respected research professor from Phoenix Seminary who received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. "Systematic Theology" is well organized and covers all the basic theological issues. It is meticulous in presenting various perspectives on theological issues and goes in depth in presenting strong biblical support for each doctrine.
This is an excellent resource for those wishing for an introduction into the depths of theology. It takes you from the shallow to the deep in a understandable manner for the average lay person. Every Christian should not only own this, but use it.
The Christian church has a long tradition of systematictheology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features: - A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching - Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum - A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today - A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect - Frequent application to life - Resources for worship with each chapter - Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.