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Volume 8.1 / Systematic Theology Pack, 2nd ed.: A Complete Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
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Book Review

Grudem 2nd ed

Systematic Theology Pack, 2nd ed.: A Complete Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

Book Author: Wayne Grudem
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic/Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2020
Reviewed by T. J. Marinello, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Badhoevedorp, The Netherlands
  • Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic/Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2020. pp. xxvi + 1586. $59.99/£56.72, hb.
  • Grudem, Wayne, Briana Smith and Erik Thoennes. Systematic Theology Workbook: Study Questions and Practical Exercises for Learning Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020. pp. viii + 260. $24.99, paper.
  • Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology Video Lectures: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020. 4 DVDs. $89.99.
  • Grudem, Wayne, and Erik Thoennes. Systematic Theology. 2nd ed. Laminated Sheet. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020. pp. 6. $23.25, paper.

Wayne Grudem in association with Zondervan Academic has produced not just an updated version of his acclaimed work, Systematic Theology, but an entire study resource set. This four-part resource at least can be used all together, with just the book and workbook, just the book and video series, or just the video series alone. The laminated study sheet is a summary of the main text and can be used in conjunction with any or all of the other parts. Thus, users can study privately, use this series as a self-contained course, or perhaps play the videos for use in the local church, to name but a few ways.

The second edition of Grudem’s book has made some significant changes from and additions to the first edition, adding some three hundred more pages to the text and using the ESV for the Scripture texts throughout. Quite helpfully, the changes are enumerated in the “Preface to the Second Edition” (pp. xv–xix). Even a simple scan of this listing apprises the reader that Grudem has taken into account debates which have arisen or further developed since the release of the first edition twenty-six years ago. For example, this book enters the debates surrounding the ongoing criticisms of the penal substitutionary view of the atonement, critiques the “new perspective” on Paul regarding justification, and adds modern praise songs to the end of each chapter in addition to the previously listed traditional hymns. What has not changed is the practice of listing sources and resources at the end of each of the fifty-seven chapters as well as a memory verse associated with the topic. As well, the book retains the previous layout of seven sections: 1) The Doctrine of the Word of God; 2) The Doctrine of God; 3) The Doctrine of Man in the image of God; 4) The Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit; 5) The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption; 6) The Doctrine of the Church; and 7) The Doctrine of the Future. Likely this new edition will become the standard textbook of theology in many seminaries and Bible schools as was the first edition, and rightfully so.

In addition to a revised textbook, Grudem, Smith, and Thoennes have produced a well thought through workbook which covers all fifty-seven chapters of the book. Each chapter begins with a prayer, has a “Chapter Review” which needs to be filled in, continues with a section of questions for “Thinking Critically,” and ends with questions and comments for “Personal Engagement.” Alas, this workbook only is in a letter size format as well as three-hole punched for a notebook of the same size. Nonetheless, the workbook can be used as a standalone paperback as the reader works through the main book.

What might be of interest to many is the DVD series in which Grudem gives a ten-minute lecture on each of the fifty-seven topics contained in the book. The pace of the lecture is such that the viewer who does not speak English as a first language can follow along, and yet the pace is not such that the native speaker will find the tempo ponderous. This reviewer keeps legacy technology on hand and so was able to play the DVDs, but the means to play a DVD is becoming increasingly rare. Also, the DVDs are only available as NTSC format, so one’s player and tv/monitor must be universal to display the content, or one must use a DVD player connected to a computer. Zondervan does offer the lectures in conjunction with a full online course, but the user has only eighteen months access to the material. Thankfully, Vimeo offers this video series for purchase as a standalone, streaming product compatible with a variety of various operating systems, services, and applications.

The final part of this package is a laminated, front-and-back, three-sheet summary of the seven sections of the book in a letter-sized format. These six pages are designed as a summary, a reminder, or a refresher of the doctrines covered according to the marketing description. This reviewer did not request or receive a copy, so a more complete appraisal is not possible. The images on the web did seem like the description is accurate.

This complete set is recommended for self-study. The book is recommended for personal libraries, church libraries, and libraries of seminaries and Bible schools. In addition, Grudem’s Systematic Theology is recommended for use as a textbook in seminaries and Bible schools. For those who already own the first edition, this second edition is well worth the upgrade given the additions, corrections, and format. Readers also should be aware of a recommended Zondervan companion volume by Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (2011). This book presents the development of doctrine in the same seven sections as Grudem’s book. Between these two volumes, the owner has a suitable anchor to a theological library.

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