Systematic Theology For Laymen

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Posts 169
Michael | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 3 2016 8:31 AM

I'm a layman interested in reading about Systematic Theology to combine with my reading on hermeneutics (Grasping God's Word).

Wayne Grudem's work has been recommended by many, but it is also my understanding that this generally a good book for those coming from a Reformed perspective.  How would you compare this to Michael Horton's more recent work as far as a single resource for a layperson.  If you had to pick one Systematic Theology book of a Reformed perspective, would it be one of these books or a different one?

https://www.logos.com/product/8413/systematic-theology-an-introduction-to-biblical-doctrine

or

https://www.logos.com/product/26683/the-christian-faith-a-systematic-theology-for-pilgrims-on-the-way

I also have Louis Berhof, Millard Erickson, and Charles Hodge's works in my Logos library. 

On the flip side, I'm interested in finding a Systematic Theology book that is of the Wesleyan/Arminian perspective in order to have a balanced view.  Would the best one from this perspective be Thomas Oden's 3 volume work or something else if you had to pick a single work for a layperson?

https://www.logos.com/product/3683/systematic-theology

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 8:53 AM

Michael:
 If you had to pick one Systematic Theology book of a Reformed perspective, would it be one of these books or a different one?

I would probably go with Horton's but it is some time since I read Grudem's.

I did a short review on Horton's work and attach it here hoping it will help in your thinking

6758.Book Review - The Christian Faith - submitted.pdf

Posts 3267
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 8:59 AM

Even though grudem is reformed I feel he presents a fairly balanced view of doctrine

Posts 1890
Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 9:55 AM

Frame also has a very recent systematic theology text which is in Logos:

https://www.logos.com/product/49812/systematic-theology-an-introduction-to-christian-belief

I find Frame to be very readable, even though I don't always agree with his analysis or conclusions.

-Donnie

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 10:03 AM

Michael:
If you had to pick one Systematic Theology book of a Reformed perspective, would it be one of these books or a different one?

I'd recommend Grudem for the layman, even though I think he's dead wrong about spiritual gifts and eschatology Big Smile.

Oden is a bit much for me, truthfully. You might find F. Leroy Forlines' The Quest for Truth: Theology for Postmodern World easier to get your teeth into. He's also written Biblical Systematics: A Study of the Christian System of Life and Thought but that's only available in Arminian Theological Studies Collection (5 vols.)

Posts 80
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 11:27 AM

From a Calvinistic side I love Millard Erickson's irenic approach.  Obviously, Erickson's theology text is a bit on the lengthy side, but he also publishes a streamlined version of it.  Logos doesn't currently offer it , but perhaps someday (hint, hint).  Here is a link to the paper version.

http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Christian-Doctrine-Millard-Erickson/dp/0801049199/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454526171&sr=8-2&keywords=millard+erickson

From a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective I like Don Thorsen's theology text.  For one thing, it is the only systematic theology that I own that includes cartoons (true story).  It isn't truly a Wesleyan-Arminian theology, rather it aims to present "Mere Christianity", but it is written by a Wesleyan-Arminian and undoubtedly his perspective bleeds through at times.  I do like Oden's works, but they aren't what I would try to tackle first.  I am a seminary graduate, but in homeschooling my daughter (who is preparing for Biblical studies at Wheaton) I gave her Thorsen to work through first before anything else.  I had originally planned for her to use Millard Erickson's abridged work, but after stumbling upon Thorsen I went with him instead. 

http://www.amazon.com/Exploration-Christian-Theology-Don-Thorsen/dp/0801030900/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= 

In addition to Grudem, Erickson, or Thorsen (or whomever you decide to go with) don't overlook N.T. Wright's short book on "mere Christianity"  https://www.logos.com/product/15826/simply-christian  

Hope some of that helps.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 4:56 PM

Jack Cottrell's volume is helpful for the lay person: https://www.logos.com/product/4561/the-faith-once-for-all-bible-doctrine-for-today 

Also Grudem as others have mentioned 

DAL

Posts 487
Rodney Phillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 3 2016 6:50 PM

Really enjoying grudem.  Half way through it..  It is my first book on Theology I have ever read..

I like it so much I plan to buy the physical book and keep it by my bed to read..  Good thing about it is you don't really have to read the chapters in order.  For the most part they stand alone..   But I am reading it now within Logos in order for my first time through..

Posts 6485
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 3:11 AM

Rodney Phillips:

Really enjoying grudem.  Half way through it..  It is my first book on Theology I have ever read..

I like it so much I plan to buy the physical book and keep it by my bed to read..  Good thing about it is you don't really have to read the chapters in order.  For the most part they stand alone..   But I am reading it now within Logos in order for my first time through..

what I love about Grudem and Cottrell is that a lot of their sections will actually preach (e.g. Grudem's Christ's Offices - Prophet, King, Priest and you add how it applies to us as Christians).

DAL

Posts 3267
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 5:42 AM

Mark Barnes:

Michael:
If you had to pick one Systematic Theology book of a Reformed perspective, would it be one of these books or a different one?

I'd recommend Grudem for the layman, even though I think he's dead wrong about spiritual gifts and eschatology Big Smile.

Oden is a bit much for me, truthfully. You might find F. Leroy Forlines' The Quest for Truth: Theology for Postmodern World easier to get your teeth into. He's also written Biblical Systematics: A Study of the Christian System of Life and Thought but that's only available in Arminian Theological Studies Collection (5 vols.)

Agreed

Posts 3267
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 5:44 AM

Another book I'd highly recommend is Moody's Handbook of Theology.  That is my top theology book but unfortunately Moody and Logos hate each other for some reason so we will probably never see it in Logos anytime soon

Posts 33
Jason Clapper | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 7:01 AM

Oden's work is fabulous, especially coming from the Wesleyan view.

Posts 169
Michael | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 8:34 AM

Thanks everyone for all the input.

I think I'm going to go with Grudem/Erickson for the Reformed/Calvinist side and Oden for the Wesleyan/Arminian side.  I'll start with Erickson since I already have it.  I have Grudem and Oden on my wishlist.

I also own Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine which I purchased on sale.  So I think I have enough reading for quite a while on just systematic theology.

Posts 1394
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 8:57 AM

Mark Barnes:
I think he's dead wrong about spiritual gifts and eschatology

To avoid causing an explosion of theological arguments here again, would you please send me an eeee male explaining what specifically you differ with him on and why concerning spiritual gifts and eschatology? james jackson taylor at geee male dot com. (obviously no spaces in my name)

After listening to your sermon on prophecy (which was great IMO), I'm just curious to see which points you'd diverge from Grudem and which view of eschatology you feel is most biblical. As well as the continuation of spiritual gifts or not

Logos 8  | Dell Inspiron 7373 | Windows 10 Pro 64, i7, 16GB, SSD | iPhone X | iMac 27" i7, 16GB, SSD | OS 10.13

Posts 6485
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 9:09 AM

James Taylor:

"...would you please send me an eeee male..."

By now you must be hating the dictation feature on your phone 😂

DAL

Posts 1394
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 4 2016 9:11 AM

DAL:
you must be hating the dictation feature

nope, just watching out for spam bots.  haha

Logos 8  | Dell Inspiron 7373 | Windows 10 Pro 64, i7, 16GB, SSD | iPhone X | iMac 27" i7, 16GB, SSD | OS 10.13

Posts 5091
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2016 2:58 PM

Paul:

Logos doesn't currently offer it , but perhaps someday (hint, hint).  Here is a link to the paper version.

http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Christian-Doctrine-Millard-Erickson/dp/0801049199/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454526171&sr=8-2&keywords=millard+erickson

Actually Paul Logos does offer both the second and third editions of this resource:

https://www.logos.com/product/7799/introducing-christian-doctrine 

https://www.logos.com/product/52204/introducing-christian-doctrine-third-edition 

Posts 646
Frank Sauer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 5 2016 4:22 PM

Count me as a Grudem recommendation as well. Reformed, but very fair in overall analysis.

Another and much easier read, RC Sproul's Everyone is a Theologian is an excellent beginner/prep book.

Posts 652
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 9 2019 8:22 AM

Hi Michael:

As a layman, sometimes is important to have certain knowledge of the basics of different traditions so one can understand how their presuppositions affect theological work. 

A simple, well organized, informative and useful resource for this is:

https://www.logos.com/product/27749/survivors-guide-to-theology

It will bring to the forefront many of the preconceptions that different traditions bring to the task.

Then for a good getting acquainted with basics of ST:

https://www.logos.com/product/41723/mobile-ed-th101-introducing-bible-doctrine-i-theology-divine-revelation-and-the-bible

Pricey, but worth when obtained in sale (bundle, discount, etc.)

Peace and grace.

Posts 451
Liam & Abi Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 9 2019 10:45 AM

Hi Michael, my recommendations are adapted from a post on a similar thread a few days ago:

First, Louis Berkhof's two-volume set. Berkhoff has a really succinct style offering excellent summaries of the biblical data and thorough overviews of the historical development of a doctrine. A safe, solid, easy to read, classic. You can’t go wrong, and if you are tight for cash, just skip the intro volume. 

https://www.logos.com/product/6690/introduction-to-systematic-theology

https://www.logos.com/product/6689/systematic-theology

Second, John Frame's single-volume edition. To call it a systematic theology is probably a little inaccurate since it is really a summary of all of Frame's theological contributions so far, so it is a little lopsided in what it covers. However, he has been one of the leading lights in the doctrine of God and his multi-perspectival approach to theology is well worth engaging with even as a layperson.

https://www.logos.com/product/49812/systematic-theology-an-introduction-to-christian-belief

Best wishes, Liam

NB: it’s worth doing some googling about Grudem’s particular (peculiar?) views on the Trinity since some have, and not without good reason, accused him of departing from Nicaean Christianity at several points due to his heavy emphasis on the eternal subordination of the son (ESS).

Check out my blog 'For Fathers'

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