Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review - Bible Doctrine

In Bible Doctrine, a condensed version of his longer Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent resource for study groups, Sunday School classes or individual study. When I first purchased this book to use in teaching a youth Sunday School class, I was a little hesitant as most Bible doctrine books I had seen either oversimplified things or was so difficult to understand it made teaching from it almost impossible. However, Grudem’s writing style here was simple and quite easy to understand, yet at the same time did not sacrifice key elements of doctrine in order to obtain that simplicity.

Grudem covers what he views as seven key topics of Christianity: The Doctrines of the Word of God, God, Man, Christ and the Holy Spirit, Application of Redemption, the Church, and the Future. Each is divided up into several chapters that read very much like a class outline. There are review questions, application questions, special terms and Scripture memory passages at the end of each chapter.

What I especially appreciate about Grudem is the way in which he presents varying viewpoints on issues that have presented some disagreement. Because this book seems designed for classroom use, space does not allow him to dive into all the nuances of each argument, yet he still manages to present most, if not all sides quite fairly, presenting Scriptural arguments used to support each. While he divulges which view he holds to, he does it in such a way as to encourage the reader to further study the issue and decide for himself.

For example, while discussing the topic of Creation under the Doctrine of God, he briefly touches on the fact that many evangelicals disagree on the age of the earth. He presents arguments for both an old and a young earth, with Scriptural support and interpretation for each. His conclusion was that while “Scripture seems to be more easily understood to suggest (but not to require) a young earth view…. It should be said at this point that, with the information we now have, it is not at all easy to decide this question with certainty. The possibility must be left open that God has chosen not to give us enough information to come to a clear decision on this question and the real test of faithfulness to him may be the degree to which we can act charitably toward those who in good conscience and full belief in God’s Word hold to a different position on this matter.” (p.139)

It is with this wisdom that Grudem approaches many of the topics and one of the main reasons I would highly recommend this book, especially for beginners of theological study. It’s ease of use and understandability make it a valuable addition to any bookshelf.

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