Today I read chapter 1 of Systematic Theology by Dr. Wayne Grudem. I also watched a short video introduction presented by the author. My spouse and I plan to work our way through the set of theology courses together offered through Bible.org; At least it’s the plan for now.
The end of last week I watched “Class Introduction” to the first course “Introduction to Theology” of “The Theology Program”. I watched it again with my spouse. It was good enough to sit through twice, or maybe I’m just interested enough in theology so to me it was sufficiently good enough to watch twice.
This should be interesting. we have had a taste of just about every flavor of theology listed in the book, including Roman Catholicism, of which we’ve had quite a bit more than a taste. I have even sampled from theological schools I am not sure are even considered in this book or in the course. There’s another book on the way, Mosaic of Christian Beliefs by Roger Olson, which has a better chance of mentioning some of these other theological schools.
Over ten years ago my spouse asked me what advanced degree I would get if I could. I thought about theology but chose instead to go for the sociology of religion. For various reasons I did not complete an advanced degree in sociology. Now I wonder if I should have pursued theology.
Even though I have a petty good idea of things about which I will disagree with Dr. Grudem, I’ll not mention them until I reach those points in his book. So far he’s introduced himself as a person who takes a “traditional Reformed position with regard to questions of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, the extent of the atonement, and the question of predestination.” He’s going to have a tough time persuading me buy into any of those traditional reformed positions, as I understand them now.
I’m on the fence about many positions of doctrine. I’ve read the Bible enough and heard interpretations from many theological positions. The books we’re reading for these courses and the course itself should cause us to think through these positions again. I think we could call ourselves eclectic Christians. We’ve sampled too many flavors of theology to say, “We only think our favorite flavor is the one true flavor and there is no merit in any other flavor.” I like chocolate almond fudge ice cream but it doesn’t mean I think rocky road is not valid ice cream. Even maple nut has its place.
Grudem lists sections in other evangelical systematic theology books (and two Roman Catholic) at the end of each chapter which address the topics covered in the chapter. He organized them in seven groups (plus the two Roman Catholic): Anglican (Episcopalian), Arminian (Wesleyan or Methodist), Baptist, Dispensational, Lutheran, Reformed (or Presbyterian), and Renewal (or charismatic/Penticostal). My spouse and I are all over this map and then some. I’ve attended Episcopalian services, I think I’m closest to Arminian theology, and my spouse was raised Methodist. We’ve attended plenty of Baptist congregations and been members of another denomination indistinguishable from Baptist to an outsider (unless they read the sign outside). I don’t know how much Dispensational theology we’ve absorbed (We wouldn’t be surprised if there is a rapture, but we know Dispensational theology has more to it). I was baptized Lutheran and I have a Lutheran/Catholic view of the sacraments, particularly baptism. I grew up attending a Reformed denomination, and we harbor strong Pentecostal sentiments. I also have been exposed to plenty of Adventist thought. We also attended a Greek Orthodox church for several months and went through their “what our church is all about” classes.
Grudem’s book was published about the same time as the Catechism of the Catholic Church came out in English, so it is not one of the two Roman Catholic resources he listed.