Growing Systematically

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Wayne Wilson's picture

Grudem's Systematic Theology has good points (in many ways an ideal layout), but I would only recommend it with serious cautions.  Because of its accessibility, I worked through it with a study group of lay people at our church. Several portions are quite disturbing, such as his suggestion that parents might try to rebuke a spirit of rebelliousness (or anger, or laziness) in their children.  What horrible advice! What impact would such behavior have on a child?  "Suzie, you may have demons. Let' me try to rebuke them, okay? Then maybe you'll clean your room more often."  Be cause of this kind of thing, I would never tell your average Christian to read it on their own. 

There is also a tendency to ignore significant arguments for contrary positions to his own.  His omissions make for unbalanced study at times.  I wish now I had not used Grudem, because I felt the need to supplement and correct him more than I would most standard Systematics.

Other Key problems: 

1.  He teaches that the church replaces Israel, and is very dismissive of Dispensationalism (doesn't really bother with key arguments against his position)

2. He regards the union of Catholics and Protestants through the Charismatic movement as good thing.  

3. Of course his view of prophecy is new and, I believe, dangerous. 

That said, I agree with Olson about Grudem's tone and character. I had a class with him at TMS and he is a gentle and godly man.  I actually came to believe his positions are often influenced by his desire for peace and unity in the church at large.  I think that explains some of the blind spots and odd conclusions.  

TylerR's picture


Read Rolland McCune's Systematic instead. Use Erickson if you want a fair presentation of opposing viewpoints along with his conclusions. For normal church members, I recommended Ryrie's Basic Theology as a reference. If someone has some good recommendations for normal folks, share them! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?