What is Christianity
What is Christianity? Ask five people and you'll probably get five different answers. But if you ask these same five people where to learn about Christianity they will (or should) direct you to one book, the Bible. The question then arises, how can several people read the same book and have different opinions? Is Christianity all just a matter of interpretation? Some folks may think so.
But if you take the time to study the Bible you will find that Christianity clearly has defined principles of belief, faith, repentance, and more. But what do these terms mean? Other common questions arise such as, don't all religions lead to the same god, or why do Christians believe the Bible is the only book inspired by God? Important questions, indeed, but how do we answer them?
Some individuals look to history, science, or tradition for answers. Others find their source of inspiration in an experience or emotion. But, what do the Scriptures say?
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
I've been a Christian for many years and I've heard several views of what it means to follow Christ. This year, I decided to delve into the topic further by taking a theology course. The specific topic was salvation and I was blown-away by what I learned. This information has helped me grow in my faith and it has also given me a clearer understanding of what it means to be a Christ Follower.
The principle book that we used in class was the Bible, however, we were also given reading assignments and homework from the textbook Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem.
The author said the following about his book, "I have not written this book for other teachers of theology (though I hope many of them will read it). I have written it for students-and not only for students, but also for every Christian who has a hunger to know the central doctrines of the Bible in greater depth."
I found this book to be well written, easy to understand, and it has been exceedingly helpful in my personal pursuit to learn more about my faith.
Why Do You Believe or Not Believe
As I previously mentioned, I've been a Born Again Christian for several years, I have heard about faith in Jesus Christ but the extent of what faith is (and is not) has become progressively lucid the more I study. Grudem covers numerous topics sorted into seven parts and 57 chapters. At the end of each chapter there are questions for personal application. Because of my class I've had to answer these questions and I am so glad I did. If you read this book, I recommend you answer the questions also. It will aid with your growth and understanding.
Grudem also includes in the appendix "Historic Confessions of Faith," the "Apostles' Creed," the "Westminster Confession," the "Thirty-nine Articles," and more. Additionally, the second appendix lists scripture memory passages from the NIV (New International Version) Bible and NASB (New American Standard Bible). Appendix 3 lists contemporary worship songs classified by chapter, and appendix 4 outlines the "Annotated Bibliography of Evangelical Systematic Theologies." Finally, appendix 6 covers the Monogenes Controversy: "Only" or "Only Begotten?" The book also includes a glossary of specific terms, a hymn and scripture index (partial), and a subject index.
Needless to say, this is quite an extensive book. However, the author instructs the reader not to look at his work as one large book but to consider each of the 57 chapters as small books you can read in any order. So, you do not have to read this book cover to cover, unless you want to. Instead, you can jump to a chapter and find information on a specific topic. For example, if you would like to know what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, you could go to chapter 35 ("Conversion - Faith and Repentance"). Or if you've ever wondered why it was necessary for Christ to die on the cross, you could go to chapter 27 and read about "The Atonement." In addition, for more information, the resurrection and ascension are both covered in chapter 28.
Who was this Book Written For
Although Systematic Theology covers a vast number of complex issues and the author is able to articulate the information in a clear and concise way. This book has been written with the student in mind, and thus you will not come across long and tedious dissertations that will leave you scratching your head and wondering what you just read. On the contrary, the material is profound but easy to grasp.
In addition to students, this book was written for anyone who wants to learn about Christianity and for all Christians who want to learn more about their faith. If you cannot answer the simple question of why you believe, you might want to review this book and examine your faith. Can you answer the question, "What is Christianity?"
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