How Can We Study Theology for a Lifetime? Dr. Wayne Grudem

Guest: Dr. Wayne Grudem | Dr. Arnold interviews Dr. Grudem as they discuss lifelong theological study. Topics of conversation include:

Dr. Grudem’s personal journey into theological study

Dr. Wayne Grudem serves as distinguished professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge and served as General Editor of the ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2008). Dr. Grudem is the author of several books, including Systematic Theology (Zondervan Academic, 2020), and What the Bible Says About How to Know God’s Will (Crossway, 2020).

As we close this season of our Faith Seeking Understanding podcast, we want to first thank you for being a faithful listener. We sincerely hope you have been encouraged and helped in your understanding of the faith!

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Brian Arnold (00:00):

I just want to say, as we close this season of Faith Seeking Understanding Podcast, we want to first thank you for being a faithful listener. We sincerely hope you've been encouraged and helped in your understanding of the Christian faith. Second, we hope you'll stay connected with us. Keep your ears open for future projects, and you can connect with us by subscribing at Again, that link is Thanks for listening.

Intro (00:29):

Welcome to Faith Seeking Understanding, a podcast from Phoenix Seminary—helping Christians grow in their understanding of the faith, hosted by Dr. Brian Arnold, president of Phoenix Seminary.

Brian Arnold (00:44):

Well, today we want to bring you a special episode of Faith Seeking Understanding. This is our 100th episode. Our heart for this podcast was to help Christians grow in your faith. That's why we've tackled doctrinal topics, ethics, biblical studies. We long to see Christians continue to deepen in their understanding of God and the Bible, and how we ought to live as followers of Christ. And all this comes from a fundamental conviction that theology matters. I first came to take theology seriously as a senior in high school. But it was in college during my first semester that our Campus Crusade was working through John Piper's book, Desiring God. And from there, the theological hook was set in my soul. And not long after that, a mentor of mine knew that I was very interested in studying theology, and told me that I just had to read this book called Systematic Theology by a guy named Wayne Grudem.

Brian Arnold (01:34):

And that summer, I was completing a 500 hour internship for my paramedic degree, and I went to Barnes and Noble, and I remember buying that systematic theology book, and just devoured it that summer. And I can remember walking to the ambulance and turning it around and seeing that he was a graduate of Harvard for his undergrad, and seminary training at Westminster, PhD in New Testament from Cambridge. And that he worked at this place called Phoenix Seminary, which I had never heard of before. But I think it's fitting in this 100th episode to talk to my friend and colleague, Dr. Wayne Grudem, who's the author of that systematic theology, just to talk today about how we can study theology for a lifetime. Dr. Grudem, welcome back to our podcast.

Wayne Grudem (02:18):

Thank you, Brian. Good to be here.

Brian Arnold (02:20):

So that's just what I want to do today. I want to just talk to you as you reflect and think on your lifetime of studying theology, how our listeners can take some cues from that and study theology for their life as well. So I would love to just hear more about your story. How did you come to love the study of theology?

Wayne Grudem (02:41):

Well, I think it started back when I was 13 or 14. I don't quite remember. My pastor at a Baptist church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin taught a Thursday afternoon class after school on Baptist beliefs. And I read this little book, chapter by chapter, and found out you could find out how we got the Bible, find out what the Trinity is. You could find out that God is omnipresent and omniscient and omnipotent and eternal, and it explained what those meant. And the author was doing that by putting together verses on those topics from all different parts of the Bible. And all of a sudden, I was amazed to think that you can put together teachings from different parts of the Bible and come to a conclusion about what you should believe. I didn't know that at the time, but that junior high school after school religious studies experience set the pattern for my life.

Brian Arnold (03:44):

And then from there...which I think is really great, I think it's a good reminder for people even listening that you never know what's going to be said to a kid in your children's ministry, or youth ministry, or high school, early college, that's going to hit them in such a profound way. I remember for me it was sitting there in church, probably same age, junior high, and hearing the pastor string together a bunch of Bible verses in his sermon, and just thinking—how does he know all those? Like this is a pretty big book. How is he doing that? And it just struck me. But that really was a flash until my senior year of high school. So what was it from there, then, that really kind of helped set that hook for you?

Wayne Grudem (04:28):

Well, I picked up from my parents a habit of daily Bible reading and prayer time. So when I went off to college, I already had established a habit of spending some time in God's word, the Bible, and some time in prayer every day. And I continued in that through the rest of my life.

Brian Arnold (04:48):

What age were you when you started that?

Wayne Grudem (04:52):

Brian, I don't remember.

Wayne Grudem (04:56):

Wow, that's a good question. It was early, probably sometime in junior high high school, but I don't remember. In college I majored in economics, and thought I was going to go to law school and then into politics. But I became a leader and eventually president of the Christian Fellowship Group at Harvard, and found that I was actually a sort of pastor to other students. And I loved it. Then I heard the president of Westminster Seminary, Edmund Clowney, he would talk, he said—if you think you're called into Bible teaching or preaching or being a pastor, try out teaching and see how it goes. So I went to the Sunday school superintendent at Park Street Church in Boston and said—you have any classes that I could teach? And he said—yes, fourth grade boys. So I taught 12 fourth grade boys, who were noisy and unruly and just a lot of fun. And I enjoyed doing that. Later, Margaret and I got married and we taught seventh grade boys and girls Sunday school class. But I loved explaining God's Word and applying it to people's lives. So I shifted my economics major, I was almost done, I completed the requirements and graduated, but went to seminary instead of to law school. I went to Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Got a tremendous education there.

Brian Arnold (06:25):

All right. Before we even go further into that, I've heard the story of the fourth grade boys before. Would you tell the last part of that? What happened 30 years later?

Wayne Grudem (06:34):

Yes. I was speaking in Clearwater, Florida at a church, series of meetings. After one of the evening talks, a navy chaplain came up to me and said—you maybe don't remember me, but I was in your fourth grade boys Sunday school class, and you prayed with me to receive Christ. There he was, a Navy chaplain. And I was just...I was deeply thankful to the Lord for that. And it was an indication of—we don't know the results of our ministry.

Brian Arnold (07:06):

That's right. Who knows how many other people would say that about your ministry, that you'll just not know this side of heaven. But just staying faithful to what you've been called to do. So you're at Westminster then, and which professors had the most profound impact on you? What were you starting to read, both theologically, that really started to spark your interest to become a theologian, but also even devotionally at that time? Were there things or people you were reading or listening to and preaching that were helping that even devotional aspect of your life?

Wayne Grudem (07:38):

Westminster gave out to prospective students a little book called The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre. And I have read through that book numerous times since then. It's just the story of the lives of people who had significant prayer ministries at various times in church history. I also...I've been brought up a Baptist in a sort of a dispensational background—Scofield Reference Bible teaching was good. But I was being challenged to think about reformed theology. And I remember thinking—these people who are espousing a reformed view of the sovereignty of God are also the people who are doing study on the way the Bible applies to mathematics and science and medicine and education and the study of history and business and all of life. And that was a strong argument in favor of a reformed view of the sovereignty of God over all things. You asked at the beginning, Brian, about what books have influenced me. I have a list on my website, I think there are 12 of them. The Bible more than any other book, far beyond any other book. Should I read the list?

Brian Arnold (09:05):

Yeah, I would love that.

Wayne Grudem (09:06):

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. I read that in college and thought—I wish I could write that clearly and argue that precisely.

Brian Arnold (09:23):

It's a book that you still require your students to read today.

Wayne Grudem (09:26):

I do, Christianity and Liberalism.

Brian Arnold (09:28):

Which was written what, 1923?

Wayne Grudem (09:31):

1923, approximately.

Brian Arnold (09:32):

Okay. A hundred years ago this year. And when you read it, it feels like he was writing it yesterday. It's an amazing word.

Wayne Grudem (09:37):

Right. And students who read it all of a sudden realize why their liberal protestant church that they went to growing up didn't preach the gospel. Because it was just—Christianity is a manmade religion, rather than the Bible being the very words of God to us. So that was fourth, Machen—Christianity and Liberalism. Number five, Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith. My senior year at Harvard, I took a class in philosophy from the Department Chairman, Rogers Albridge. And it was about 20 students with a discussion on...a lot of time on Descartes, much of the time on whether there was a God and whether we could know that he existed. And I read Cornelius Van Til's Defense of the Faith while participating actively, eagerly, vigorously in the discussions with my fellow students. And I found Van Til extremely helpful, saying that the Christian faith comes as a whole system, not just one individual fact at a time, but it all works together. I mentioned already McIntyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer. John Murray, Principles of Conduct. Murray was a Westminster professor, and that's an ethics book. Which again, was an eyeopener to me that you can discover what the Bible says about all aspects of life and Christian ethics. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. B.B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation <laugh>. That's a different book.

Brian Arnold (11:13):

How so?

Wayne Grudem (11:15):

There are no Bible verses in it.

Brian Arnold (11:17):

Oh, interesting.

Wayne Grudem (11:18):

But it's mixed in biblical content. And he distinguishes belief from non-belief in God, and then among belief in God, Trinitarian versus non-Trinitarian belief. And then Roman Catholic versus Protestant, Protestant liberal versus Protestant conservative, Protestant conservative versus reformed Protestant. And it's a well-reasoned book, The Plan of Salvation. It impacted me. In Warfield, the inspiration and authority of the Bible—that was my grounding in biblical inerrancy. And it was huge. I did go one year to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, but left after the first year, because they had abandoned their commitment to inerrancy of Scripture. And Warfield was a big help to me in thinking through that question.

Brian Arnold (12:10):

Which if I could, if I can jump in again, just real fast. I don't think you mentioned this when you said you were at Park Street in Boston during your time at Harvard, but Harold Ockenga was the pastor there, and people like him and Carl F. H. Henry were influential in the founding of Fuller Seminary. And then George Marsden even has a book about how quickly Fuller kind of turned away from some of those founding principles and convictions like the inerrancy of Scripture. So yeah, you went there in the 1970s and already found that they were teaching things that were not in accord with the founding of the school. And then, yeah, transferred to Westminster. I think that's a fascinating part of the story in American Evangelicalism in the last 50 years. I think that's an important part of the story. So, sorry. And then the last two books?

Wayne Grudem (13:00):

Yeah. I could mention that Carl Henry, who was one of the original founding faculty members at Fuller, Carl and Helga Henry sat in our living room in Illinois after Sunday dinner, and they said—we still don't know how Fuller Seminary went wrong in the way it did.

Brian Arnold (13:18):


Wayne Grudem (13:19):

It's quite amazing. But it was a commitment to try to please the liberal, secular—I think secular—liberal academic institutions and denominations that led them to move away from inerrancy...well, anyway, that's another story. Last two books: Geerhardus Vos, V as in Victor, O-S, Biblical Theology. This was a introduction to biblical theology to me that was...every page was so packed with wonderful insights into Scripture. And then the last one I put on the list was John Wimber, Power Evangelism, because Margaret and I spent five years in the vineyard movement and had was ministering to us in our personal spiritual lives, but enabled us to minister to others as well. And we saw numerous, numerous immediate answers to prayer for various physical and emotional and situational needs in people's lives. So that's a list of 12. There are probably more.

Brian Arnold (14:21):

Well, and I think we all have those lists of books that have impacted us. And it really is even where you're at in your life, in your Christian walk, how much time you've been with the Lord, what you've read already, that I think in many ways sets those books of great importance in our life. Like I mentioned, John Piper's Desiring God was so impactful for me as a college student, and really set me on this trajectory. Your book, Systematic Theology. I always mention James Sire's Universe Next Door, which really helped me understand how to understand Christian worldview, and the questions that are asked, and to dismantle other worldviews like philosophical naturalism. And then I always put on J. I. Packer's Quest for Godliness, because I love how he did history, but it also is such an impactful book through the Puritans, who were just deeply devotional. So maybe I should fill mine out till 12, but there's four of them on my end. So then you went from Westminster, felt called by God to go to the next level, if you will, to pursue PhD work. You decided to go to Cambridge. What made you want to study New Testament, and what were some of those impactful things that God was doing in your life there?

Wayne Grudem (15:38):

Well, I ended up...I had some life experience in people connected with the charismatic movement, but I was also a graduate—or a student—at Westminster Seminary, which was strongly suspicious of miraculous gifts today. And so I ended up writing a PhD dissertation on one hot issue in that controversy, and that is the gift of prophecy. And when I got to Cambridge, you might imagine, I was wondering—would my faith be strong, or would I succumb to the more liberal tendencies in the university? First thing I ended up doing on the gift of prophecy in the New Testament was the background study on the nature and function of prophecy in the Old Testament. And lo and behold, what did I find? It claimed to be God's very words, again and again. And claimed to be absolutely truthful. And I documented that on a survey of the Old Testament teachings on prophecy. And my supervisor, professor, C. F. D. Moule, very famous—pronounced it Moule—New Testament professor, read what I wrote and said, "Well, I guess that is what it says, isn't it?" <laugh> And he asked me to present it to a group of PhD students. So my confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture, and the absolute authority of Scripture, deepened and was strengthened during my PhD study.

Wayne Grudem (17:09):

What else? Our oldest son was born there. We had wonderful friends and a great church in Cambridge. And then partway through my three years in Cambridge, I had an opportunity to teach for an Intervarsity group in Austria at Schloss Mittersill to teach a class on Christian ethics. And I found I liked the classroom, I liked teaching, I liked interacting with students. And so, when time came to finish my PhD work and get a job, I went to Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota for four years. And then Trinity Divinity School in Illinois for 20 years. And now here 22 years at Phoenix Seminary, which has been great.

Brian Arnold (18:00):

And I can imagine some people listening and thinking—well, you guys are professional theologians. And I use that word a lot lighter about me than you. And of course we study and we read these great books of theology, and that's kind of what God has called us into. But I'd love for you to take a few minutes, just talk to a listener who says—you know, I want to whet the appetite for theology. I want to start studying these things. I have no idea where to begin. I don't know what that path looks like. What encouragement would you give to them, and how can they start taking some steps to grow in this area?

Wayne Grudem (18:37):

Oh, boy. Enroll at Phoenix Seminary.

Brian Arnold (18:41):

There you go! <laugh>.

Wayne Grudem (18:45):

Well, that's one thing. And I have in my class that I teach on Tuesday afternoons here, I have one retired businessman in his early seventies, and another retired funeral director, actually, in his fifties or sixties. It's not too late. And they're just interacting with students, and they're providing additional wisdom and insight. I've also had a number of people, Brian, say that they're—just in reading my systematic theology, though it's 1600 pages—they're surprised by two things. One, it's easy to understand. And two, it helps their spiritual life. So I hope it would increase, encourage people's appetite for theological study.

Brian Arnold (19:41):

And I can testify to that. I know it's hard for you to speak of your own work in those ways, but that's the story of my life—is reading that, understanding theology in a way that took me deeper but was accessible. And it can be intimidating, looking at a 1600 page book. But for those listening, really, these self-contained chapters that you can just read a week at a time if you wanted to, and in a year or two years you've really studied the totality of theology from the Word of God all the way through end times, through eschatology. So it's a very readable resource. Yeah. What else would you point them to?

Wayne Grudem (20:19):

Just spending time in the Lord's presence. Every day I read...most days, some days I really rush, but most days I read sections from the Old Testament—usually a chapter—and then a chapter from the New Testament. And I have a notebook of things I pray for myself, my family, my relatives, my friends, my church activities, seminary, et cetera. But then the most joyful time is just time when I spend, not reading another verse, not saying another prayer, but just resting in the Lord's presence and enjoying his presence with me. It's during those times that a lot of problems in life, the answer appears clear all of a sudden, or the Lord puts on my mind something new that I hadn't been thinking about that I could undertake as a project, or many other things. But just resting in the Lord's presence and knowing God personally is what the Christian life is all about. And if we neglect that, everything else goes awry eventually.

Brian Arnold (21:40):

You, I believe, have your students read...I can't remember, is it Helmut Thielicke?

Wayne Grudem (21:50):

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.

Brian Arnold (21:51):

That's right. That's right. Which is a helpful place to start—but a lot of these same kinds of ideas, if I recall—that we can't let our desire to study theology outpace our desire to be with the Lord. And I think a lot of people get concerned about that. That one of the reasons why they don't want to study theology is they feel like they'll lose that devotional aspect. But what I've seen in your life, even, is the complete opposite, is theology really serves to fuel that devotional aspects of your life and your desire to be in the Lord's presence. And you're doing it with a fuller understanding of who he is, which can only help in those moments.

Wayne Grudem (22:31):

I think so, as long as we're believing in the Bible and believing things that are true about God. And that's what the Bible teaches us, of course.

Brian Arnold (22:39):

Of course. And for those listening, I'll follow up on your plug. If you want to go deeper into the things of God, and you're here in Phoenix—or you're somewhere else—whether through coming to Phoenix Seminary or joining us online, it's a great place to study with an incredible faculty who love the Lord, believe his Word, totally truthful, inherent, inspired, infallible, and love the disciplines of history and languages and theology to really help give that foundation of biblical truth for a lifetime. We talk about studying for a lifetime of faithful ministry, and that doesn't just mean people who are in vocational ministry. It means all those who are called to serve the Lord in whatever capacity that they're in. And I appreciate your faithfulness of theological education for 40 plus years, seeing as God's called you there in your writing ministry that has really impacted this generation.

Brian Arnold (23:36):

I like to say that...kind of what John Piper preached into existence, even through Passion: One Day Live, and what he's been able to do in awakening in many ways. But you've been the theologian of this generation, and I've benefited from that. And just want to thank you for the impact that you've had in my life. And I know a lot of the other guys I know who came to study theology with me during my time in seminary were there in large measure because of reading your systematic theology. So thank you for giving your life to studying theology so that we could study theology as well.

Wayne Grudem (24:11):

Well, thank you, Brian. I'm thankful that the Lord has allowed me to have some positive impact on the Church, so I'm thankful for that. And I'm now at 75 just concerned that I don't make any mistake and adopt some wrongful teaching.

Brian Arnold (24:32):

Yeah, well...

Wayne Grudem (24:33):

In the last years of my life. I've seen people not quite finish well, and I want to finish well.

Brian Arnold (24:40):

Well, we can pray to that end. And I have every confidence that you will. Well, thank you Dr. Grudem, for being with us today. And I just want to say, as we close this season of Faith Seeking Understanding Podcast, we want to first thank you for being a faithful listener. We sincerely hope you've been encouraged and helped in your understanding of the Christian faith! Second, we hope you'll stay connected with us. Keep your ears open for future projects, and you can connect with us by subscribing at Again, that link is Thanks for listening.

Outro (25:17):

Thank you for listening to Faith Seeking Understanding. It means so much to us that this content is helping you grow in your understanding of the faith. I want to take a moment to tell you about our new online learning experience at Phoenix Seminary. Over the last year, we've been creating what we believe to be the highest quality of online courses for ministry training. If you're called to train for a lifetime of faithful service, but can't join us on campus, I'd like to invite you to join us online. Take courses featuring some of the guests you've heard on Faith Seeking Understanding, including Wayne Grudem, Mike Thigpen, Steve Duby, myself, and more. Learn more about Phoenix seminary online, and even access the entire online lecture content for my church history course at

How Do I Know God's Will? Dr. Wayne Grudem

Dr. Arnold interviews Dr. Grudem about how to know God’s will.

Topics of conversation include:

Dr. Wayne Grudem serves as distinguished professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge and served as General Editor of the ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2008). Dr. Grudem is the author of several books, including Systematic Theology (Zondervan Academic, 2020), and What the Bible Says About How to Know God’s Will (Crossway, 2020).


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Intro (00:00):

Welcome to Faith Seeking Understanding, a podcast from Phoenix Seminary—helping Christians grow in their understanding of the faith, hosted by Dr. Brian Arnold, president of Phoenix Seminary.


Brian Arnold (00:16):

Every Christian has struggled at some point to discern God's will. Usually this is circumstantial. I can remember being in college and fretting endlessly with questions like—who should I marry? What should I major in? What job offers should I take? And later on it was questions of—where I should go to seminary? And what path should I take afterwards? And when should we start having children? These questions can seem endless. And as faithful Christians, we want to know God's will. To be honest, we wish he'd paint what he wants in the sky or give us smoke signals. Or that we would hear an audible voice telling us what to do next. Wanting to know God's will can oftentimes paralyze us in decision making. We think that if we do not discern God's will right, our lives will spiral out of control, and we'll suffer the consequences forever.


Brian Arnold (00:59):

But this isn't quite how Scripture defines God's will. Oftentimes knowing God's will is following his prescribed will. That is, following his commandments in the next step of obedience. But this still leaves open the questions of how we are to know that we're walking consistently in the will of God. Well, it helps us understand God's will we have with us today Dr. Wayne Grudem, who serves as distinguished professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. Dr. Grudem received his doctorate at the University of Cambridge, and he has served as the General Editor of the ESV Study Bible and is the author of more than 20 books, including his well-known second edition Systematic Theology and—what is relevant for our topic today—What the Bible Says About How to Know God's Will. Dr. Grudem, welcome back to the podcast.


Wayne Grudem (01:43):

Thank you, Brian. Good to be here.


Brian Arnold (01:45):

So we ask our guests one big question. Today, the question is this—how do I know God's will? And I kind of want to start by maybe thinking more broadly about knowing God, and then his will. And then talking a bit more specifically of walking in obedience with him according to his will. And then let's get really practical with—what are some steps we can take as Christians to discern God's will in our life? So let's just begin kind of at a high level. Some people say God is infinite, we're finite. So to even ask the question of God's will necessitates that we can even know God. How do we know that we can know God?


Wayne Grudem (02:22):

Well, that's the heart of the Christian faith. Christianity is knowing God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in a personal relationship. And in that relationship, we want to please God. We want to do what is pleasing to him. Paul says in Colossians 1:10 that he wants his readers to live a life "fully pleasing to God." And there are other passages in the New Testament that talk about living a life that's pleasing to God. So that's what I want to do. And that's what I think Christians, in their hearts, want to do every morning when we get up—Lord, help me to know your will and be obedient to you, be fruitful in the work of the kingdom, and guide me into the right decisions each day.


Brian Arnold (03:06):

That's right. I mean, I love how you begin with the essence of the Christian faith. Jesus says this in John 17—that eternal life is to know him. So we have a God who wants to be known, and that is a great, incredible gift that so many people take for granted, is that God didn't have to be known. Especially when we fell into sin. He could have just not revealed himself to us, so that we would be blind and just groping around for who God is and what he wants from us. But instead he's revealed himself and given us some of those things like Scripture in order to know his will. So let's kind of move down into that next kind of level, if we can. A lot of theologians talk about God's will in two different ways, like a prescribed will and a description kind of will. How do you think through kind of the will of God? And that God is sovereign, and in many ways we can say everything that's happening is happening according to his will. But then there's also a will of God that is more descriptive, of—here's what God wants from us. So how do you help Christians think through that?


Wayne Grudem (04:08):

That's a good question, Brian. Just think for a minute about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That was contrary to God's moral standards. The 10 commandments, we have the commandment "You shall not murder." And certainly, the Roman authorities, with the complicity of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, did something horribly wrong in crucifying Jesus, who was innocent. Who had done nothing sinful or illegal or worthy of punishment, to say nothing of being put to death. So it was disobeying God's will of commandment, or his will of what is called sometimes "the will of precept." What he wants...what he tells human beings he wants us to do. But on the other hand, in the book of Acts, Peter says Jesus was delivered up according to the determinant will and foreknowledge of God, so that the enemies of Jesus would do whatever God's will and plan had predestined to take place.


Wayne Grudem (05:16):

That is, there's another sense in which God did will the crucifixion of Jesus. Though looking at the event in itself it was a cause of great sorrow, looking at the long term results—salvation for all of his people. It was something that God willed. So there are senses of God's will that's called "will of decreeing" that is his planning and ordaining what will happen. But when we talk about knowing God's will today, we're talking about those kind of decisions that you mentioned at the beginning of our broadcast, Brian. What college to go to, what subject to major in in college, or what career to embark on. Whom to marry. What car to buy. Perhaps what job to take. Those are practical questions in which people really seek to be obedient to God. And I've listed in in my book, Christian Ethics, and in this little book called What the Bible Says About How to Know God's Will, I listed nine factors to think about in considering what God's will is. Nine factors that will help us learn God's will.


Brian Arnold (06:28):

Well, I think it would be really helpful to walk people through that. Because let's just be honest—as Christian theologians, as pastors, as just leaders in the kind of the Christian area, we get this question a lot, don't we? People coming up to us and really wrestling with a major life decision, that they really think—if I misstep here, the whole rest of my life is off, and it's just going to fall apart. Which even speaks to our view of the character of God, in many ways, as he is leading us. So yeah, I would love to hear you walk through these steps you take people through. I think it would be a great benefit for folks.


Wayne Grudem (06:59):

Alright. Interrupt me at any time, but I'm going to list nine factors.


Brian Arnold (07:02):



Wayne Grudem (07:04):

Nine places to look or listen. Number one, the Bible. It tells us God's moral commands, tells us right and wrong. That's always the only and absolutely authoritative source of information on God's will.


Brian Arnold (07:18):

Yeah. I'm going to interrupt you as we go through. Because it is amazing to me how often people say—well, it's God's will for me to divorce and marry this other person. And we can emphatically say—if the Bible says don't do it, it is not the will of God. There are times where it's not mysterious to know God's will. It is—don't do that! Would you agree?


Wayne Grudem (07:36):

Right. I agree. And a lot of questions of guidance are solved that way. Don't steal. Don't lie. Don't commit adultery. The 10 Commandments provide a good guide. Well, that's number one—information from the Bible. Number two—information from studying the situation. I have a granddaughter who is a senior in high school, and she's looking at different colleges. And she's visited some of them. I don't think she's going to know which college she would prefer to go to until she visits the campus of several of them and she learns more about the situation. Say in buying a car—you need to know more about the car before you decide to give some money for it.


Brian Arnold (08:17):

I will say, the last time I drove a Lamborghini, I was really like—this feels like the Lord's will, as I test drive this <laugh> Obviously, that's not what you're saying. But I do think there's a lot of wisdom in just going...and we can even sense God's call in different ways when we actually engage in kind of researching through it. I think that's a wise point.


Wayne Grudem (08:35):

Right. Well, studying the Lamborghini question, you learn about the situation something that is very important, and that is the price.


Brian Arnold (08:41):

<laugh> That's right. Yes. There there's a gap there, yes.


Wayne Grudem (08:47):

Okay. Then information about yourself. Sometimes talking to friends, or just reflecting on who we are and what our personality, and characteristics, and desires, and abilities, and training consist of. So information about the Bible, and then the situation, and then yourself. And then we would go outside of that, and say—the fourth thing to think about is advice from others. Paul says in Romans 15:14 that the Roman Christians—he knows that they're competent to counsel one another. And so advice from Christian friends is very helpful.


Brian Arnold (09:26):

Well, and yeah...I'm going to hop in there too. It's one of the things we talk about even with call to ministry. So something that you and I get a lot of times are young people coming to us and saying, "I'm not sure if I'm called to ministry." And we talk about the internal and the external call. Do you feel called to ministry? Do you feel like God's tugging in this direction? You know, the Bible says if you desire to teach, it's a noble thing. So that desire can be a great thing that God has given you. But I always weight the external call a little bit more—I'm like a 60/40—in, do people around you in the body of Christ sense this call in your life? And it's been really helpful for me, Dr. Grudem, when I make big life decisions, I'm on the phone with a lot of different believers who know me, who've invested in my life, and ask them these kinds of questions. Of—is this maybe where God's leading me, or not? And I don't want people to overlook that one as—well, I can just really internally process this. Get some wise counselors around you who can help you think through what God's leading you to do.


Wayne Grudem (10:25):

Yeah, yeah. And call to ministry. I mean, one of our sons was on a very successful career path in the business world, and his church as a whole—but many people in his church, when they were living in Florida—said to him, "Elliot, you should go to seminary and become a pastor." And he did. That was information from advice from others.


Brian Arnold (10:51):

Go ahead.


Wayne Grudem (10:52):

Another place to look is changed circumstances. Jesus said, "if they don't listen to you in one town, stamp the dust off your feet and go to the next one." And Paul takes into account circumstances, but he evaluates them differently. In one place—in First Corinthians 16—he says there's been a wide door for effective work that's open to me. And then, because of that, he stayed in Ephesus for three years. But in another case, he the book of Acts, he came to Troas and there was a wide door for effective work open for him again, but his spirit couldn't rest, because he didn't find Titus there, he says. And so he left that. But he evaluated that situation differently, he took into account changed circumstances. Then there's some internal things to think about. So circumstances was number five. Number six is conscience. God has given us a conscience. That's an internal sense of right and wrong. And that often will guide us in what the decision is that we should make.


Brian Arnold (12:10):

Let me ask you a question there. Because in dealing with conscience, it seems a lot of times like issues of right or wrong. Is this like a morally right decision? Sometimes we're up against those where it's just a hard ethical call to know if what we're about to do actually is moving us towards sin. Sometimes it's very clear. Sometimes it's less clear. Are you meaning in situations like that to know God's will? Or even in just which car do I buy? How does the conscience relate to that?


Wayne Grudem (12:40):

Yes, Brian, that's a good point. I don't think there's a moral right and wrong, whether you buy a green car or blue car. But there's a lot of right and wrong between a restaurant employee stealing from the cash register and then not stealing from the cash register. And so our consciences can be trained to get better. You get more skilled at discerning right and wrong. But I just want to list that as one factor—take into account an internal sense of right and wrong. That's one of nine factors. Seventh factor is—what is in your heart? Conscience is an inner sense of right and wrong. The heart is an inward center of a person's deepest moral and spiritual inclinations and convictions. A lot of times if a student comes to me and says, "I'm not sure if I should take a job that's possible at church A, or if I should stay where I am at church B." And one of the first things I'll ask this student is—what is in your heart? What are the desires that God really has impressed on you, that are at the heart of who you are and what would you like to do? Now Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, but I think that's the heart of unbelievers.


Brian Arnold (14:12):

Yeah, I think that's right. I mean, one of the questions I would ask people in that same situation would be—are you delighting yourself in the Lord? Because if you're delighting yourself in the Lord, He'll give you the desires of your heart. So the desires of the heart can be a good thing, so long as your focus is on Christ. And if your affections are there, and you're walking after God, according to his commands, and, you know, you're not grieving the Holy Spirit, then what are the desires of your heart? And I think that can be a great guide.


Wayne Grudem (14:41):

Brian, that is so important. I could back up into this list and say—if you're seeking guidance from the Bible, are you doing that in the presence of God and talking to him about it? Are you studying the situation in the presence of God? Are you thinking about yourself and your own abilities in the presence of God? Number four, are you listening to advice from others while praying about whether that advice is to be heeded or not? Number five, are you looking at changed circumstances with a prayer that God will give you discernment and be with you as you make that decision, in a personal relationship? Are you, number six, paying attention to your conscience in the presence of God? That often is very important. And number seven—are you sensing what is in your heart in the presence of God, and seeking to be pleasing to him?


Wayne Grudem (15:41):

Now I'm going to go to number eight and number nine. The eighth factor to take into account with guidance and knowing God's will is a person's human spirit. That's different from the Holy Spirit, who is within us. Our human spirit is the nonphysical part of us. And Paul came to Athens, and his spirit was provoked within him because of the idols that were filling the city. Elizabeth, when Mary came to visit, she said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior." Our human spirit gives us a sense of the invisible spiritual dynamics in a situation. And then the ninth and last item that plays into knowing God's will is guidance from the Holy Spirit. We see Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:16 talking about "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." And when I studied the Greek word for being led, it's ago, A-G-O. It's something like 60 times in the New Testament. Every time it talks about personal activity of leading, it describes specific direction to a specific goal. And I think that we do have guidance from the Holy Spirit as a factor in what we decide. So there are the nine factors.


Brian Arnold (17:25):

I think those are really helpful. They are balanced. I think it gives people a good rubric to begin to work through as they ask themselves maybe a big decision coming up. Some of the things that I want to say that you mentioned along the way, but weren't specifically one of them, is prayer. Is seeking the Lord in prayer through this. But you had mentioned on all these, like you're prayerfully considering this, walking in step with the Spirit, in terms of just how you're living your Christian life, that will help you come to some of these things. And then I think, you know, one of the things that wasn't particularly mentioned, but I think you had put it over the whole of this, is wisdom. That all of these steps collectively give you the best approach—the wisest approach—to how to make these decisions. Would you say that?


Wayne Grudem (18:16):

Yeah, I would say that, Brian. And I would add that wisdom is a skill of applying the Bible's teachings rightly to each situation. And so, yes, I think we need to do that prayerfully and with a knowledge that we're doing this in the presence of God and asking him for wisdom. That it comes from studying Scripture. It comes from living the Christian life over a period of years. And we can grow and increase in wisdom throughout our lives.


Brian Arnold (18:52):

And I think this is how we do it, right? By doing these...taking these kinds of steps, trusting the Lord, watching him work. We grow in wisdom over time watching the Lord do that. Let me ask you this question, because I can imagine somebody asking this—is it possible to make a neutral decision—so like career or school—and miss God's will? And if that happens, what's next?


Wayne Grudem (19:16):

What's next is—obey the next day. Tomorrow morning start on a path of obedience from where you are. The Bible is full of people who made mistakes and then turned around and got on the right path. Peter denying Jesus, for instance. And he was forgiven, and took leadership in the early church.


Brian Arnold (19:42):

One of the examples I like to use is with marriage. And some people wonder—did I marry the right person or not? And quite frankly, some people, the answer is—in many ways—no. Like, let's even just take a believer and a nonbeliever. It's pretty clear not to be yolked with a nonbeliever, but once you get married, is that your right spouse? Yes! Right? So there can be something about decisions that are made, that it can't necessarily be unwound. But now you're in a situation that doesn't catch God by surprise. He knew where that was going to be. Right? But they are now in a situation in which to follow God's will is to keep the marriage intact, for instance.


Wayne Grudem (20:24):

I agree a hundred percent there, Brian. And when I talk to groups about the Bible's teaching on marriage, or marriage and divorce, I start off by saying at the beginning—if you're married, you are married now to the right person.


Brian Arnold (20:39):

That's right.


Wayne Grudem (20:40):

That's what God wants you to do, is make this marriage a good one. No matter what the past is. Brian, I wanted to mention one other thing before we come to the end of this time. I've mentioned nine factors to consider knowing God's will. And it's possible for people to be overwhelmed by that, saying "it's too complex." And I want to say, this is something like learning to play golf. It looks so easy. A golf pro stands up at the tee and hits the ball, and it goes along straight down the fairway. And you think, "oh, I could do that." But when you try, you realize it's a complicated situation with the position of your feet, the position of your knees, how much you're bent forward, the position of your hands on the club, the motion of the club, the motion of your elbows, the motion of your wrists, where your head turns, and where you're looking. If you break down the golf swing into various parts, it's very complicated. But as we go through the Christian life, we get better and better at discerning God's will. Just as a golfer will get better and better at hitting a golf ball, and it'll look easy.


Brian Arnold (21:55):

Well, I think that's where the wisdom piece comes in, right? Is—wisdom is not accomplished in a moment. It takes a lifetime of faithfully walking after God, applying principles like this. Like you said, I mean, this is the practice, right? Every decision we have, to walk through these things, to be able to discern the will of the Lord better, and to be able to speak into those things. And then, hopefully, use that wisdom—as somebody who is walking closely with Christ—to disciple the next generation. To say, "Here's what wisdom looks like over 40 years of decision making. Here's how I've been able to trust the Lord in those decisions." And as they're fretting as 20 year olds, trying to really see what the rest of their life is going to be like, to help them begin to build that structure into their life.


Wayne Grudem (22:36):

You know, that's very true. A long time ago when I was a seminary student, there was a bulletin board on which students could put opinion pieces that they appreciated. And I put up one that was quite a controversial topic at my seminary. And another student took it down. And so we went to the Dean of Students and asked—who's in the right? And the Dean of Students said, "Well, the rule is students can post whatever they want. Wayne, you can go put it back up." So I marched in victory over to the bulletin board and put it back up. And just as I was pinning it to the board, the President of the Seminary came by, and he said, "What's this?" And I said, "Well, it's just something I thought people should read." And he said, "Take it down." It took him about one second to look at it.


Wayne Grudem (23:22):

And his instinctive sense—looking back now—he was right. It would've been too controversial. But as a mature Christian, out of wisdom that had been developed over many years—Hebrews 5:14, solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil—he instantly made the right decision. Just as Joseph did when Potiphar's wife said, "Come lie with me." He fled out of the house instantly, leaving his garment behind that she had grabbed onto. So that's what we want. We want to get to the point of Christian maturity where we instinctively take all these factors into account and make the right decision.


Brian Arnold (24:05):

But like you said, it comes through constant practice. So I think that's a great encouragement to people. This isn't just something that some people excel a little bit more at than others. It is something that has to be honed, trained, practiced over the course of time. And that's the only way to get to Christian maturity. And a lot of that will come in discerning the Lord's will for our lives. Well, Dr. Grudem, this has been really helpful. Let me commend again your book to people who are wrestling through these things, that they can read and begin to develop those skills of hearing, you know, from the Lord and really following his wisdom and path for our life. And the recognition that if you are out there and you feel like—I've missed it, I've messed up. Today's the day to start again, to discern the will of the Lord for your life. Thank you, Dr. Grudem.


Wayne Grudem (24:48):

Thank you, Brian.


Outro (24:49):

Thank you for listening to Faith Seeking Understanding. It means so much to us that this content is helping you grow in your understanding of the faith. I want to take a moment to tell you about our new online learning experience at Phoenix Seminary. Over the last year, we've been creating what we believe to be the highest quality of online courses for ministry training. If you're called to train for a lifetime of faithful service, but can't join us on campus, I'd like you to invite you to join us online. Take courses featuring some of the guests you've heard on Faith Seeking Understanding, including Wayne Grudem, Mike Thigpen, Steve Duby, myself, and more. Learn more about Phoenix seminary online, and even access the entire online lecture content for my church history course at


Wayne Grudem: The Influence of the Bible on My Life

It might be appropriate for me, at age 70, to explain something about how the Bible has influenced who I am and what I have chosen to write.

I think the main reason for my pattern of life to this point has been the influence of the Bible, which I firmly believe to be the Word of God in its entirety, and God has used literally thousands of verses to correct and mold and shape me. But I can mention 12 verses (representing 12 clusters of similar verses) that have molded and shaped my life most strongly.

1. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

I knew this verse from earliest childhood, because it was my mother’s favorite verse in the Bible. And when I think about it, I realize that the teaching of this verse has formed the “background music,” (or, to use another metaphor, the “mental screensaver”) that has been present in my mind through my whole life, resulting in a deep trust in God’s absolute sovereignty over events  and his unfailing good purposes for his children, including me.

Even in times of challenge, discouragement, and difficulty, God has given me a deep peace in the knowledge that he is working “all things” together for good. He is the sovereign Lord of the universe, and his purposes will prevail.

2. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5)

In 1966, when I was 18, I spent the summer between high school and college in Quebec City, Canada, taking an intensive French class. While there, I pondered what I was going to believe for the rest of my life. Was I going to believe what my parents and my church had taught me, or something else?

Alone in my dormitory room one Sunday afternoon, I consciously decided that I knew the Bible, which I had read regularly since early childhood, was the Word of God, and that I would believe what I’d been taught at home and church if it agreed with the Bible, and reject what did not agree with the Bible. The Lord was certainly in that decision, because in the 52 years since that time, throughout college, seminary, doctoral studies, and classroom teaching, the conviction that “every word of God proves true” has been at the very foundation of my entire life.

3. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

From at least early elementary school—first, second, or third grade—I have loved the sense of God’s presence that came to me when I would pray, when I would sing hymns, and often when I was in church. This joy or delight in God’s presence has been a deep source of joy for my entire life.

This is the joy that I feel in fellowship with Jesus, my Lord and Savior. As Peter says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).

4. “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14)

The word translated “prudent” (Hebrew sākal) can also be translated as “insightful, discerning, wise, perceptive”—and that is certainly a description of Margaret, my wonderful, caring wife of 49½ years, who is truly a gift from the Lord. Much of who I am, and much of what I have done, has been due to her godly influence in my life.

In addition, while Margaret could have pursued a career in the workplace, she chose instead to give countless thousands of hours to the task of being a wife and mother—taking the primary responsibility in caring for our children, making sure our home was always clean and pleasant, preparing tens of thousands of meals, doing the grocery shopping, the laundry, and many other unheralded tasks. If she had not done these things, many of the books I have written would not exist today, because I would not have had the time. Much of the credit for my work belongs to her.

But I remember once when Margaret’s concern for beauty in our home didn’t work out very well. I was a seminary student and we were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia. One day I came home from classes to find my commentaries, reference books, and Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, all rearranged with no logical order to them at all. Margaret had decided they looked better if they were arranged by color instead of subject matter!

5. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3)

The Lord gave Margaret and me three very special sons, and now these three sons have brought into our family three wonderful daughters-in-law and three delightful grandchildren. I’m so thankful for their support and love—this is truly a gift from the Lord.

6. “Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12)

As far as I know my own heart, I don’t think my work has been motivated by a desire to show off or prove my academic expertise, but rather by a desire to “excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). Again and again, the things that I have written, or the organizations that I have been involved in, have come about because I saw a need in the church as a whole that I thought I could help to meet.

In a related verse that has also influenced me, Paul says, “Him [Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Paul’s goal was not simply that people trust in Jesus as their Savior and go to heaven, but that they grow and become “mature in Christ.” That has also been my goal.

7. “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)

This has been a tremendously influential passage for most of my life. I want to be able to say the same thing at the end of my life—“I did not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God”—I didn’t hold back from teaching faithfully everything the Bible says, even about topics that are unpopular, or topics that will make people disagree with me or be mad at me. I want to be faithful.

8. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7)

I have been convinced for many years that if God’s Word is able to make even “simple” people to be “wise,” that implies that he has caused the Bible to be written in such a way that it is able to be understood by his people generally. God himself wants us to understand, and believe, and obey what the Bible says—not just an individual verse or two, but the Bible taken as a whole.

That conviction about the clarity of Scripture motivated me to write my Systematic Theology, my recent book Christian Ethics, and several other articles and books in which I attempted to argue and explain clearly (both to scholars and to God’s people generally) what the whole Bible teaches us about numerous specific topics.

When my Systematic Theology was first published in 1994, it was criticized in some reviews—especially in the UK, but also in the US—as “not the way we should do theology.” Some critics were saying, in effect, “Who does Grudem think he is, that he can just go to Scripture and build doctrines from its pages?” The critics usually gave no specific examples where they thought I had misinterpreted Scripture, but just assumed that theology could only be done by first mastering the fields of philosophy and church history and everything about theology that important theologians and philosophers had said in the past—especially the views of liberal theologians who didn’t submit to the authority of the Bible but were reputed to be brilliant scholars—and then reasoning from their writings to reach doctrinal conclusions. As a result, very few evangelicals with specialized training in Old Testament and New Testament (but not in philosophy or history) were writing theology.

But I thought that God wanted his people to learn above all from his Word. The great doctrine of the clarity of Scripture teaches us that the Bible is written for God’s people to understand. And if these critics were right—if, after an M.Div. at Westminster Seminary and a Ph.D. in New Testament at Cambridge, and over 40 years of reading the Bible daily, if I still could not understand the Bible’s teachings rightly—then how could the Bible say that “the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). How could millions of Christians without seminary training ever find Scripture to be “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16)? How could all the parents in Israel be expected to hear the words of Scripture and then “teach them diligently to your children, and . . .  talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7)?

For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to prove myself academically to these critics or anybody else. The clarity of Scripture had persuaded me to go ahead and write Systematic Theology. I’m grateful that God has allowed it to receive a warm reception from his people all over the world, in many languages. And now my book Christian Ethics follows the same methodology.

I’m sure I have not understood all the teachings of the Bible perfectly, and I know that others will differ with some of my conclusions, but I am still firmly convinced that the Bible is not a collection of baffling teachings that we have no hope of understanding, and it is not a collection of contradictory, merely human writings by different authors, but that it is able to be understood, believed, and obeyed, and that God wants us to understand it rightly.

9. “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Nearly everything I have written contains arguments based on facts—facts found in Scripture, facts found in literature from the ancient world (to which many of my readers will have no access), facts from the history of the world right up to the present day, and facts about an opponent’s arguments.

But are we always honest with facts? Every academic researcher understands the temptation that comes when you are working in a major research library and you come across data in some obscure source that seems at first to contradict the theory you are arguing for. There’s a temptation simply to ignore that awkward bit of data—who would ever notice? But this verse tells us to argue by “the open statement of the truth,” and that verse has influenced me again and again.

So far as I know, I have never intentionally misrepresented or covered up any of those awkward facts, but have felt an obligation before God to state them clearly and then explain how I understand their meaning. In addition, I have felt a deep responsibility to try to do my work carefully so as not to unintentionally misrepresent any facts, through carelessness.

God is honored, and he will give blessing, only when we consistently seek to persuade, in imitation of the apostle Paul, “by the open statement of the truth” (2 Cor. 4:2).

Have I made mistakes? Certainly. Have I been wrong about some things I have advocated? Yes—I don’t think on any major doctrines, but no doubt on some secondary points, and I’m sure I’m not aware of all of them. James says, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (Jas. 3:2).

I trust that over time the Lord will cover my mistakes and make them unpersuasive, and use others to correct them.

10. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

I did not create myself. God made me. He gave me my mind, my heart, my salvation through Christ, my family and friends, the wonderful privilege of a teaching position at Phoenix Seminary, and even my inclination to hear and treasure these verses from his Word. To him belongs all the glory and honor and praise.

11. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48)

The Lord entrusted much to me—in undeserved opportunities, undeserved gifts, and many wonderful friends. I do not know if he will count me faithful on the last day, or tell me I could have and should have done more for him and his kingdom.

I am leaving all of that in God’s hands. “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Cor. 4:4-5)

12. “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’” (2 Samuel 7:18)

I often feel that way. Who am I, O Lord, that you have brought me thus far?

Praise be to God.

New Book Honors Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem with his wife Margaret

Wayne Grudem with his wife Margaret

At this year's annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Dr. Wayne Grudem, Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, was honored with a special book written and edited by his colleagues, former students, and friends, including Phoenix Seminary's Dr. John DelHousaye.

The editors of the volume held a special session at ETS where the contributors along with Dr. Grudem's three sons shared about his ministry, his personal character, and his wide influence on evangelicalism. We are very thankful for his many years of  faithful service to the church and to Phoenix Seminary. Congratulations, Dr. Grudem!

You can view more photos of the event on Instagram.

About the Book

Scripture and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Wayne Grudem

Edited by John DelHousaye, Jeff T. Purswell, John J. Hughes, Contributions by Gregg R. Allison, John M. Frame, Vern S. Poythress, Sam Storms, Bruce A. Ware, Leland Ryken, Thomas R. Schreiner, Peter J. Williams, R. Kent Hughes, C.J. Mahaney, Ray Ortlund, John Piper, Owen Strachan, Erik Thoennes, Elliot Grudem, Darryl DelHousaye

Scripture is the foundation for all of Christian life and ministry, but in our current age it is being challenged, doubted, and, in many cases, simply ignored.

Wayne Grudem, one of evangelicalism’s best-known theologians and authors, has worked tirelessly throughout his life to demonstrate the necessity, sufficiency, and centrality of Scripture.

In his honor, Grudem’s friends and colleagues, including John Piper, Thomas R. Schreiner, Sam Storms, Vern S. Poythress, John M. Frame, Gregg R. Allison, Erik Thoennes, and John DelHousaye, have compiled a series of essays on various topics central to Grudem’s life and teaching. Exploring topics such as the nature of Scripture, the relationship between Scripture and doctrine, and the role of Scripture in life and ministry, this volume stands as a testimony to the enduring worth of God’s Word.

You can read an excerpt of the book at the publisher's website

Dr. Wayne Grudem on His New Book Christian Ethics

The Phoenix Seminary faculty work to produce helpful resources for students, pastors, and many others in ministry. Today we are pleased to announce our newest faculty publication, an introduction to Christian ethics by our research professor, Dr. Wayne Grudem.

Christian Ethics cover

I wrote my new book Christian Ethics for Christians who want to understand what the Bible teaches about how to obey God faithfully in their daily lives. I hope the book will be useful not only for college and seminary students who take classes in Christian ethics, but also for all other Christians who seek, before God, to be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” with the result that they will live “in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9–10).

But the book also contains a challenge. I am concerned that teaching about ethics has been neglected in many evangelical churches today—partly because the issues seem complex, partly because pastors do not want to be accused of sounding “legalistic,” and partly because the surrounding non-Christian culture is hostile to Christian moral values, so anyone who teaches biblical ethics is likely to be criticized by unbelievers. Therefore, I hope this book will help to meet a need among Christians today for more biblical ethical understanding. And I hope the book will challenge Christians to live lives of personal holiness in the midst of a secular culture.

This book is similar in its method to my earlier book Systematic Theology, because both books seek to explain “what the whole Bible teaches” about various specific top­ics. However, Systematic Theology dealt with theological topics such as the Trinity, the person of Christ, the atonement, and salvation, while this book deals with ethical top­ics such as lying and telling the truth, war, abortion, euthanasia, racial discrimination, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, stewardship of money, wise use of the environ­ment, and many other topics.

I hope it will be useful for all Christians who seek to experience the great blessing of God that comes from walking daily in paths of obedience, knowing more of the joy of God’s presence, and experiencing his favor on our lives.

The full table of contents is available on the publisher's website.

About the Author

Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary. He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and has published over 20 books. Learn more on his faculty page and website.

God & Evolution Videos

In January, Phoenix Seminary was pleased to host a special two-day event on “God & Evolution: A Critique of Theistic Evolution.” The response was so overwhelming that the location had to be moved to accommodate attendees.

The speakers for the evening included J. P. Moreland, Stephen Meyere, and the seminary’s own Wayne Grudem. Each was a main editor for the recently-published book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. Video of the event was broadcast live on the seminary's Facebook page and reached over 30,000 people. You can watch the video below.

Day 1 Video

Day 2 Video

About the Speakers

J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University. He is an author of, contributor to, or editor of over ninety books, including The Soul: How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters.

Stephen Meyer (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the Director of the Discovery Institute's Center of Science and Culture. He is the author of several books, including the New York Times best-selling book Darwin's Doubt.

Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and has published over 20 books.

Event Photos

Photos courtesy of Don Baltzer

A Tribute to R. C. Sproul from Wayne Grudem

Yesterday, the popular Christian author, speaker, and founder of Ligonier Ministries, R. C. Sproul, passed into glory. Posted here is a note of gratitude for his life and ministry from Wayne Grudem.

R. C. Sproul

R. C. Sproul was a tireless, ever-courageous defender of the inerrancy of the Bible and the unfathomable greatness of our sovereign God. He had an influential leadership role in producing the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Throughout his life, he was a major voice promoting a resurgence of Reformed theology as the system of doctrine most consistent with Scripture and most conducive to deep trust in God every moment of every day. My interaction with R. C. was primarily related to his long-time agreement with the ministry the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, especially in our opposition to the gender-neutral changes in the TNIV Bible, and most recently in his willingness to be one of the first signers of the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality.

I am thankful to God for his life and ministry. His death makes me think of this promise of Scripture: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘That they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Rev. 14:13)​.

Further Reading

A look back at Sproul's ministry by Justin Taylor
R. C. Sproul's website

About the Author

Dr. Grudem became Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in 2001 after teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years. He has served as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), and as a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He also served as the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Crossway Bibles, 2008).

Wayne Grudem on Theistic Evolution

Theistic evolution is the view that God did not directly act in the world to create plants, animals, or human beings, but instead that He simply created inanimate matter at the beginning of the universe and then allowed completely naturalistic mechanisms such as random mutation and natural selection to produce all forms of life, including the first living cells and human beings.

Mainstream (secular) evolutionary theories offer a view of biological origins that excludes any role for a designing intelligence or Creator of any kind—affirming instead that “evolution works without plan or purpose.” And now many Christian theologians, scholars, and pastors have felt obligated to accept the evolutionary account of human and biological origins because of the presumed scientific authority of the evolutionary biologists. Consequently, many Christians leaders have thought that they must interpret the Bible to make it conform to evolutionary claims about the origin of life and human beings.

This book challenges this approach and the concept of theistic evolution. The editors J. P. Moreland (philosopher), Stephen Meyer, (philosopher of science), Ann Gauger (protein evolution specialist), Christopher Shaw (molecular endocrinologist), and Wayne Grudem (theologian) have assembled two-dozen highly credentialed scientists (including specialists in molecular and cell biology, organic chemistry, bioprocess engineering, developmental biology, mathematical statistics, zoology, and paleontology) as well as philosophers and theologians from Europe and North America to marshal a formidable interdisciplinary critique of theistic evolution.

The argument presented by Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Crossway, November 2017) is divided into three parts: a scientific critique of theistic evolution, including the claim that human beings descended from sub-human animals; a philosophical critique of the idea that “science” must be limited to materialistic explanations of the origins of living things; and a biblical and theological critique of the idea that the Bible can be interpreted in a way that is compatible with Darwinian evolution. The contributors not only document many scientific and evidential problems with contemporary evolutionary theory, they also show that the prominent versions of theistic evolution deny specific historical events in the biblical account of creation, undermining several basic Christian doctrines. Consequently, this volume provides the most comprehensive scientific and Christian critique of theistic evolution yet produced.

[Editor: If this article interests you, check out the Phoenix Seminary January conference based on this book. Wayne Grudem, J. P. Moreland, and Stephen Meyer will be speaking. Click this link for more information.]

About the Author

Dr. Grudem became Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in 2001 after teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years. He has served as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), and as a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He also served as the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Crossway Bibles, 2008).