INTERVIEW – Wayne Grudem, Part One

INTERVIEW – Wayne Grudem, Part One December 4, 2006
It is a great pleasure to welcome to my site one of my living heroes, Dr. Wayne Grudem. Dr. Grudem is well known as the author of Systematic Theology and The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today. He has also published several books on the issue of complementarianism. The latest of these is Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? A number of Wayne Grudem’s articles are also available online.

This new book provocatively claims that egalitarianism is a sure path to a new liberal desertion of the Christian faith that will end in the rejection of the Bible as authoritative and acceptance of homosexuality as a valid alternative lifestyle for Christians.

The following interview is wide-ranging, but focuses on that new book. I will be serialising the interview over several days. We begin by asking a few personal questions.


Welcome, Dr Grudem! Please, can you tell us a little about yourself personally and how you came to be doing the job you are doing at Phoenix Seminary?


After my M.Div. studies at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, I came to England and completed a Ph.D. in New Testament at the University of Cambridge. By God’s grace, I had a wonderful supervisor, Professor C. F. D. Moule. My doctoral dissertation was on “The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians,” and some of my later publications have flowed from that research.

I should add that the three years we spent in England from 1973 to 1976 were some of the happiest years of our lives (and our oldest son Elliot, now a pastor, was born in Cambridge). We were actively involved at Eden Baptist in Cambridge (where David Smith was the pastor) and made a number of lifelong friends. We have returned to Cambridge many times in the thirty years since then, and we always think of it as a “home away from home.”

Then, starting in February, 1977, I taught undergraduates at Bethel College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for four years; then moved to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where I taught New Testament for six years; and then Systematic Theology and Ethics for another fourteen years.


I remember hearing you say in a talk in Brighton in the UK that there were some health concerns connected with your wife that contributed to your decision to move to the warmer climate. Has Phoenix agreed with your wife’s health – is she OK?


We moved to Phoenix Seminary in Arizona in 2001, primarily because of Margaret’s health. She had been experiencing chronic pain after an auto accident a number of years earlier, and we found that the pain was aggravated by cold and humidity. Well, the Chicago area is cold in the winter and humid in the summer!

After a couple of trips to Arizona, which is hot and dry, we realized that Margaret felt much better there. So I phoned the academic dean at Phoenix Seminary and asked if there might possibly be a job opportunity there for me. It is a long and wonderful story of the Lord’s guidance and provision, but the result is that we have been here since June of 2001, Margaret has felt much better, and I also love the seminary where I am now teaching. So we are thankful for God’s blessings in many ways.

I am thankful to the Lord that when we were making a decision about whether to move to Phoenix, on the very day we were talking and praying about it, I came to Ephesians 5:28 in my regular schedule of daily Bible reading, and the Lord used this verse strongly in my own decision process: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” After reading that, I thought it was important for me to move for the sake of Margaret’s physical body, her physical health.


Can you tell us a little about your church affiliation? Your online resume speaks of you being part of several very different kinds of churches over the years. What has led you to such an eclectic choice of churches?


We’ve always sought to join churches where the Bible is firmly believed and clearly taught. Most of the time we have been part of one sort of Baptist church or another, including a Baptist General Conference church in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and a Southern Baptist church in Illinois. But at other times, we have been members of an Evangelical Free Church (for four years), and two different Vineyard churches (from 1989 to 1994). Currently we are members at an independent Bible church, Scottsdale Bible Church.

Prior to moving to Arizona we had mostly belonged to churches that had from 200 to 600 members, but when we came to Scottsdale Bible Church it was a new experience because the church had over 7,000 attending each weekend! I have served one term on the elder board at Scottsdale Bible Church so far, and I teach an adult Bible class each Sunday with about 180 adults.

I teach the adult Bible class because I think every Christian should contribute something to his or her own church rather than merely attending, and this is something I can do. Other people bring refreshments, or work in the nursery, or serve on the finance or building committee, and others work in the counseling ministry, or just spend time caring for a network of friends, but we all play a part in the overall work of the church, and I think that’s what God wants us to do. Peter says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)


How easy is it for you as a seminary professor to be involved in a local church? I imagine that you have hardly any time, but also it must be a bit intimidating for the preacher knowing you are in the congregation! How do you handle all that?


Actually I’ve never known Darryl DelHousaye, who still does most of the preaching at Scottsdale Bible Church, to be intimidated by anyone in the audience! He just believes the Word of God and teaches it clearly, and God blesses. There are several professors who attend the church, but our pastor has never made a big deal out of that or let it influence his ministry of the Word of God or his leadership of the church. (He recently resigned to become full-time president of Phoenix Seminary, so we are looking for a new senior pastor now.)


I might as well get the obvious question over with at the beginning – do you think we will ever see a blog by Wayne Grudem on the net – or perhaps a group blog? I know many people would love to see such a thing!


A blog by Wayne Grudem? No current plans, sorry! I have too many other writing commitments at the present time, and (believe it or not) it takes me a long time to write things, because I keep going over them and rewording and checking to see that they read well.

Currently I am working as general editor for the ESV Study Bible (Crossway), which we hope will be published in late 2008. We have 84 different specialists writing on various parts of the Bible and also contributing additional essays to put in the matter in the back. All of that material goes through some other editors, then comes to me. It is taking all of my time and it’s a huge, but I think very worthwhile, project.

So I just don’t think I’ll add the extra commitment of writing a blog. However, a number of my writings, including some unpublished ones, are now posted at the Phoenix Seminary website.

And I’m glad for the ministry of excellent blogs like your own, Adrian!

Continued in part two . . .

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