It’s about time I wrote another book review. The idea has been nagging at me for awhile. I have been reading–I promise; and reviewing my textbooks from this past semester seemed like a terrible idea since the reviews would probably reflect a negatively biased view. Even the most avid of readers don’t like required reading.
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is a textbook (I know what I just said, but I thought it best to throw it out there and be honest). However, it wasn’t a textbook for any of my classes (how is that for qualifying myself?). I bought it on my own accord. Why? Well . . . there are several reasons. But I am not going to get into those, because this review is about the book’s content–not why I bought it.
First off, GO. BUY IT (and then I recommend that you actually use it). It doesn’t matter who you are, you absolutely need it on your shelf. Here is why:
1. The book is Doctrinally Sound–meaning, Grudem believes in the Inerrency of the Scripture, the Deity of Christ, Salvation through Christ . . . etc. Of course, you might not agree with Grudem’s opinion on everything. But again, when it comes down to the Key Doctrines–Grudem is right on.
2. For a Systematic Theology textbook, this book couldn’t be any more easy or enjoyable to read. It’s not John Owen (John Owen is enjoyable–just not easy).
3. As easy as it is to read, it will not risk insulting your intelligence. It’s a great favorite of lay people, theology students and pastors alike.
4. Grudem treats differing views fairly. When he expresses his personal view and opinion, you will know, but you will also know it’s his opinion and that he isn’t going to die for it. He doesn’t support or seclude his view with a scripture basis while leaving the others bare; rather, he presents everything as clearly as possible with respect to all differing views. In other words, he still presents the validity of other opinions and interpretations. You can’t help but appreciate his research.
5.The book is saturated with scripture. Granted, it’s a theology book, but for sure, there is nothing liberal to be found with in it. Everything, when possible, is measured by scripture.
6. Very clear application. Grudem clearly states that true theology should be applicable to life–and he presents clear application throughout and always finishes off each chapter with specific “questions for personal application.” Though not a devotional book, you could very easily use this book as a tool with your own personal devotional study; and I highly recommend that you do.
7. It’s fascinating. I already mentioned above that this book is enjoyable. I meant it.
8. The chapter “follow ups” and appendices are full of great helps. Each chapter is accompanied with an appropriate hymn for worship. I love that. Of course, like most doctrinal textbooks, there are countless memory passages. In the appendices you have a good compilation of the Historic Confessions of Faith (such as the Apostle’s Nicene, Chalcedonian and Athanasian Creeds, Westminster Confession of Faith, and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession among others). Also, Grudem gives an extensive annotated Bibliography for further reading. This I found very helpful.
In general, the book is quite thick–a whopping 1291 pages. It’s not a book you sit down and read through, although you can (and undoubtedly you would enjoy it), it’s a book you use and refer to. It’s a reference book. I will readily admit to not having read the entire thing cover to cover.
The edition I have is the newest printed version. There is newer one for Kindle (2002) and an even newer mobile download version (2008). The Bible References are from the rather reliable translations of the RSV, NASB and NIV. I expect, however, if any further editions are printed, that at least the RSV translations will be updated to the ESV considering Grudem’s help in the translation of the English Standard Version and his oversight of the ESV Study Bible. The mobile download for purchase of this book has already been updated to the English Standard Version.
Again, I strongly urge you to purchase this book for your own spiritual benefit and enrichment. It has been a great help to me.