Book Tip: Christian Beliefs by Wayne and Elliot Grudem

“Knowing and understanding basic Christian beliefs is important for every Christian. People who don’t know what the Bible teaches will have no ability to distinguish truth from error, and they will be like ‘children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14). But Christians who have a solid foundation will be more mature, will not be easily led astray, will have better judgment, and will ‘have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14.”

The previous paragraph is taken from the preface to Wayne and Elliot Grudem’s Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know. It serves as a constantly needed reminder that the Christian faith is inextricably bound up with truth. To put it another way, while knowing and following Jesus certainly involves more than believing truth, it never involves less (see, for example, Eph. 1:13, John 8:31-32, 14:6).

But how can we get a better grasp on what the truth is? Any strategy we choose should first include consistently reading God’s word. As a next step though, most of us could hardly do better than to read the book mentioned above.

Wayne Grudem has long excelled at producing faithful and understandable summaries of what the Bible teaches on centrally important topics—his full length Systematic Theology textbook is a staple resource in evangelical circles. Though surprisingly readable, Systematic Theology weighs in at nearly 1,300 pages, making it, um, somewhat impractical for most Christians looking to grow in their knowledge of basic theology.

But what if you could distill those 1,300 pages down to 137, with each short chapter (usually 5-10 pages) providing a solid overview of an important Christian doctrine? That’s exactly what Wayne and his son Eliot have done with Christian Beliefs. While I’ve long used the longer work as a go-to resource, for whatever reason I’ve only recently realized this short summary existed (it was published in 2005). But even though I’m a bit late to this book’s party, I anticipate it’ll be one of the first things I recommend people as an easily manageable and highly valuable resource to develop a solid foundation of biblical truth.

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