Welcome back for the fourth and final part of my interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem. Read part one here, part two here, and part three here.
Dr. Grudem, where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
Honestly, I don’t often become discouraged. I continue to see evidence of God’s work in my life and the lives of those around me, and I am simply overwhelmed with thankfulness to him.
Are there events in the church that bring me sadness? Yes. I am disappointed when I see churches and organizations gradually adopt an egalitarian position, because I think it will lead them step by step toward liberalism, and because egalitarianism is not a position that God will bless.
As far as my own writings, I am disappointed when I read books and articles that simply misrepresent me or use incorrect arguments to criticize what I have published on some topic or other. But when such things happen, I also remember other times in the past when a scholar has published something criticizing my position on something, and God used that to prompt me to write a response and refine my position, taking account of criticisms and making my position more accurate.
So then I think, “OK, Lord, I didn’t want to work on this question any more but apparently you want me to go back and spend more time on it.” The tension comes when you realize that you have a finite amount of time in life and have to make choices about what to do, and you already have deadlines you are trying to meet.
Then I try to put my trust in God and ask him to guide me to know what I need to spend time on and what I should leave to others to do. Romans 8:28 is still true, and always will be true: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
One event that still puzzles me concerns my book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (2004). I had been involved in the controversies over biblical manhood and womanhood for over 20 years at that point, and during that time I had compiled a list of 118 objections that egalitarians (evangelical feminists) had made to the biblical teachings on men’s and women’s roles in marriage and the church. I then researched and wrote detailed answers to those objections, and added a number of appendices that could not easily be found anywhere else, key documents on the controversy over men’s and women’s roles. Many evangelical leaders gave strong endorsements to the book.
I had hoped the book would provide a final answer to the manhood/womanhood controversy in the evangelical world, but instead I don’t think it had much impact or visibility, due to some mistakes that were made so that it was not sent out for review to influential journals, and I didn’t find this out until over a year later, when it was too late for reviews. I believe that God is still sovereign, and in his wise providence he will yet use this for good, but I don’t understand it at this point. I leave it in the Lord’s hands.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not?
I exercise on average about four days a week. I run in my neighborhood two or three days a week and lift weights two days a week. Usually I run for 25 minutes, but sometimes if have a bit more time and I’m feeling good I’ll run for 40 minutes.
Arizona has such great weather that it’s possible to run outdoors in your own neighborhood year-round. And I drive to a gym about five minutes from my house and lift weights following the general outlines of a program in the book Body for Life by Bill Phillips. A good friend who is a doctor told me that as I age I will continually lose muscle mass and be prone to injuries and weight gain unless I lift weights in addition to aerobic exercises.
My motivation in exercising is (1) I feel better and (2) I want to stay healthy to be able to serve the Lord effectively as long as I can in this life.
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
I golf from time to time and enjoy it. I used to enjoy racquetball quite a bit but there’s no easy place to play near my home and I haven’t played regularly for a number of years.
I don’t really watch sports on TV, but when my sons come to visit, I enjoy going to a spring-training baseball game with them here in the Phoenix area. And now that the Arizona Cardinals are in the NFC championship I’ll probably watch that game this weekend.
What do you do for leisure?
Margaret and I like to travel and we sometimes add an extra day or two to the beginning or end of a conference when I go out of town to speak. We love to wander through different cities! I also enjoy doing small (unskilled!) work in the yard or in fixing a few things that need repairs around the house.
I read spy novels to relax (see question above). Margaret and I enjoy watching movies together or going out to dinner either alone or with friends. And a highlight of each month is when we get together with two other faculty couples to play cards (we play a great game called “Cancellation Hearts,” using two decks of cards).
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
No question, I would have become a lawyer and gone into politics. (I’m writing a book now on Christians and politics, discussing Christian worldview issues from the Bible, and how they impact over 40 specific political issues.)
Thank you, Dr. Grudem, for satisfying my curiosity on these questions!
Over the years many pastors, leaders, and authors who have influenced my life have also become my friends. I marvel at and am humbled by this fact. And while I am always eager to promote these men and draw attention to their writings and teachings, too often these friends are known primarily for their public ministry.
I know from personal experience that these men have much to teach us from their private lives. So on this blog I want to occasionally interview these men, ask them questions to draw out their personal example, and introduce you to a private side of them you possibly have not seen.
Here we go.
Meet Wayne Grudem. Dr. Grudem is smart—B.A. from Harvard, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Cambridge, smart.
Dr. Grudem is the author of a number of excellent books including Systematic Theology and a simplified systematic theology for guys like me (Bible Doctrine).
He is the cofounder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and coeditor (with John Piper) of one of the most important books I know of: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Dr. Grudem is now the Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years.
But you may already know all this.
So who is Wayne Grudem? What does he read for fun? What discourages him? How does he structure his devotional time? What correction from others has most benefited him? What career path would he have chosen if not ministry?
Dr. Grudem was kind enough to entertain my curiosity. I divided the interview to run over the next four days (Tuesday–Friday).
Thanks for your time, Dr. Grudem! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
I usually wake up about 6:00 a.m., but sometimes as late as 7:00 or 7:30 (if I’ve been up late the night before—I need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep or I don’t think as clearly). I get a cup of tea and one of Margaret’s excellent high-protein muffins and open my Bible.
I simply read sequentially through the Bible and then start over at the beginning (I’m currently in 1 Corinthians and Psalms, reading two portions each morning). I will read the Bible for 15 or 20 minutes, underlining some verse, or making some very brief notes. Many times I will wonder about something in the Greek or Hebrew text and check it briefly, but I don’t get involved in extensive exegesis because that is not my purpose at that time. I’m looking for God to teach me directly from his Word, with application to my life.
Usually I just “camp” on a phrase or verse, sometimes writing it out and pondering application to my own life. I also keep a blank notepad beside me because God often brings to my mind things that I need to do and I make a quick note.
Then I will usually pause for five or ten minutes just waiting in the Lord’s presence and thinking about the verse or talking to him about it. After that, I pick up a notebook with different pages for people and things that I am praying for—some pages about various things in my own life, then my wife Margaret, then our children and their families, then my parents and other members of my extended family, and then other friends and people in different organizations such as our church or Phoenix Seminary where I teach.
There’s also a section having to do with our government and concerns of our nation and world. That will take 15 or 20 minutes, and sometimes longer, so the total time may be between 30 and 60 minutes.
At the end of the time I will usually bring before the Lord my “to do” list, and pray about various items on the list, asking the Lord to help me know what to make a top priority today, and asking his blessing on the things that I plan to do. Often at the end I also have another time of maybe two or three minutes or maybe five or ten minutes just resting in the Lord’s presence and waiting on him.
I find in those times of quietness, when I’m not praying about anything in particular but simply resting in the Lord’s presence, that he will bring to mind solutions for problems, or people I need to contact, or things I need to write, or things I should not spend time doing, or any of a number of other things. I also find that over the course of the entire Bible reading and prayer time a deeper sense of peace and rest in the Lord’s presence comes on my heart.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
For my soul: Only the Bible at the present time, no other Christian books. But I recently finished your book Worldliness and was challenged and rebuked by it!
For pastoral ministry: I’m not in pastoral ministry, but for professional ministry I’m just finishing Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. This is an attempt (unpersuasive I think) to show that geography and local types of plants and animals determined why some nations became rich and some did not. It’s all materialistic determinism and, in the end, terribly dehumanizing because it gives no importance to the real factors, human choices and human cultural values, and whether those choices and values were obedient to the truths established by the one true God.
For personal enjoyment: I just finished a new Vince Flynn novel, Extreme Measures. I think I have read all of his books and I enjoyed them a lot (the terrorists are the bad guys and the Americans are the good guys, and the Americans win in the end). But I liked this last one the least because it was so inconclusive at the end. I’ve also enjoyed a number of spy novels by Daniel Silva within the last year (the hero is an Israeli Mossad agent). These are “escape” novels that give my brain a change of pace.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
Probably The Hidden Life of Prayer by David MacIntyre, because it encourages my faith to read of Christians in the past who have had such a significant effect on advancing God’s kingdom through their ministries of prayer.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
I underline and write notes in the margin as I go through the book and often write some key thoughts or summary points on the title page as well. Then I shelve it in the right place in my home library!
Join me tomorrow for the second part of my interview with Dr. Grudem.
Last week 9Marks released their new eJournal (July/August 2008), containing a number of resources on marriage, helpful for pastors and for all married couples.
The eJournal includes a chart of 30 books on marriage, manhood, and womanhood all ranked and compared on issues of theology, practicality, suitability for group and individual study, and topical value on the issues of communication, romance, and money.
Sovereign-Grace-related authors ranked well in the comparison chart. Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal
(Crossway, 2004), C.J.’s book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God
(Multnomah, 2004), Gary and Betsy Ricucci’s Love That Lasts
(Crossway, 2006), and Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say “I Do”
(Shepherd, 2007) all received favorable reviews. You can view the full chart here
The eJournal includes an article by C.J. titled “The Gospel & Deliberate Complementarian Pastors
.” In the article, C.J. writes:
Biblical manhood and womanhood is the life-transforming effect of the gospel on full display. When a church teaches, practices, and honors gender distinctions determined by our good and wise God, the gospel will advance. But this will only happen where there are humble and courageous pastors who lead every member and ministry of the church by personal example and with strategic pastoring.
Access a table of contents to the entire eJournal here
or download the eJournal as a single PDF document by clicking here
Recently on the blog we posted seven consecutive sections from C.J.’s chapter “God, My Heart, and Clothes,” which will be published in the forthcoming book Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway). The book was written by a team of C.J. and four other Sovereign Grace leaders—Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, and Craig Cabaniss. John Piper added the foreword.
Though books will not ship until late September, Crossway Books has extended to our blog readers a generous 35 percent discount on pre-orders. For the next two weeks simply go to the Worldliness product page, click “pre-order” and enter coupon code: 8SG1.
And with the completion of the modesty blog series, we’ve created an index of the posts and added discussion questions below (which also appear in the printed book).
For convenience, we’ve compiled the chapter (the full content of the blog posts) and the discussion questions into one PDF (download here).
Modesty Series Index
Modesty: God, My Heart, and Clothes (pt. 1)
Modesty: The Attitude of the Modest Woman (pt. 2)
Modesty: The Appearance of the Modest Woman (pt. 3)
Modesty: A Pastor’s Concern (pt. 4)
Modesty: A Word to Fathers (pt. 5)
Modesty: The Right Adornment (pt. 6)
Modesty: The Modest Woman's Allegiance (pt. 7)
Modesty Discussion Questions
For Your Mind
1) Read 1 Timothy 2:3–10. What do these verses say about the motivation for modest dress?
2) How do we know that 1 Timothy 2:9 does not prohibit women from making themselves beautiful?
3) How do women who dress modestly serve men?
For Your Heart
4) Who are you trying to imitate or identify with through your appearance—godly women, or women of the world?
5) This chapter notes that your wardrobe is a public statement of your personal and private motivation. What does your clothing communicate about your motivations and priorities?
6) Think of a woman who is admired for her godly character and good works. What aspects of her godliness do you particularly want to emulate?
For Your Life
7) What about your wardrobe may need to change so that your appearance can better reflect the transforming power of the gospel?
8) What steps can you take on your next shopping trip to ensure that your clothing purchases reflect humility, modesty, and self-control? (Some ideas: Pray for God’s help and provision in finding modest clothing; check each article of clothing you try on for modesty as well as fit; ask your father, husband, or a trusted friend to evaluate items you’re not sure about.)
9) Mothers, what steps can you take to train your daughters to value godliness over fashion, to nurture humility and self-control, and to wear clothing that reflects these virtues? Fathers, what steps can you take to care for and lead your daughters in humility, self-control, and modesty?
In early March, C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney addressed a room full of couples being trained for pastoral ministry at the Pastors College. Soon these couples will return to their home churches to begin (or resume) the public and transparent life of pastoral ministry.
A question asked by one of the wives was simple: How should a wife respond when her pastor-husband is criticized? The question was asked in the context of pastor’s families, but the answer will likely benefit all married couples.
Question: Carolyn, as a pastor’s wife, how do you handle situations where your husband is criticized or there is grumbling in the church about your husband?
Carolyn: Obviously, it certainly isn’t easy to have your husband criticized. But as wives, we must recognize our role as our husband’s helper and make sure we don’t take up an offense, which would not be helpful to our husbands. And that does not take place without a fight. This is the person you love the most in the whole world, and if someone is criticizing him, you can be easily offended and want to defend him. Yet, I must realize that taking an offense would be a disservice to my husband. So it’s important that we as wives guard our hearts, making sure we don’t take up an offense, seeking to serve our husbands as helpers.
C.J.: Your point is an excellent one. There have been many times that I have desired Carolyn to take up an offense—“Join me in my offense against this individual.” I’m not immediately happy that she hasn’t taken an offense, but I have learned that eventually she has served me invaluably when she does not take up an offense. In no way is she defending or justifying what others have said or done, but helping me monitor my heart, and impressing upon me that a sinful reaction from me would be more serious than whatever they are saying or doing, are the most effective ways she can serve me.
Sadly, over the years we have witnessed couples in ministry where wives have taken up an offense.
And this doesn’t just apply to sinful criticism, but also to when a husband is legitimately corrected by a member of the pastoral team or a member of the church. So you need both those categories. It’s difficult when those serving with your husband correct him in a certain area or bring an unfavorable evaluation. A wife might find herself more vulnerable to taking up an offense when her husband has been corrected. I am grateful for the way Carolyn has served me by not taking up an offense. And numerous times she has agreed with the correction, protecting me from arrogantly dismissing the correction and preventing me from sowing discord among those I serve in ministry.
So, whether it’s sinful criticism or legitimate correction of me, how do you guard your heart, Carolyn?
Carolyn: Wives should carefully listen to what’s being said. If there is something legitimate, bring that lovingly and carefully to your husband. I don’t think it serves a husband for a wife to just take the side of the person bringing criticism. But if there is a degree of truth, bring that in a way that serves him.
And just helping to mirror back to him what you are hearing him say. If he is sinning in response to the criticism, where appropriate, lovingly mirror that back to him: “It seems like this is how you are responding. Is this true? Are you offended at this person? Are you bitter?” Asking skillful questions.
It takes a lot of prayer and soul-searching in our own hearts to keep our hearts free from taking up an offense. But we must have a conviction about our role as our husband’s helper and ask, “What will truly help my husband?” It will not help him if I’m adding to the temptation he’s already experiencing. If he is being corrected or criticized, he’s already got a battle he is fighting. And if I come along and agree and participate in that, it makes his battle more difficult.
My husband has gone through seasons of correction, and it’s a temptation and fight. So I find myself having to pray for those who bring criticism or correction and filling my own heart with appropriate Scriptures so I can be a true helper to him during that time.
C.J.: Yes, but where they have been accurate observations—whether critics analyzing or friends correcting—you have courageously transferred that to me. Too often I have not been grateful in the moment. Eventually, I am grateful.
Would you say that one of the biggest challenges these ladies will confront as pastors wives is will be—when they hear the criticism or correction and they find there are aspects they agree with—how to inform their husbands of that without appearing to support any sinful attitude of others?
Carolyn: Yes. And I have through the years seen wives not do that, I’ve seen the effect and the outcome, and it has put the fear of God in me. At the moment it’s not always easy to take a stand and say, “I don’t think you’re responding humbly to this situation right now.” And it takes courage. Yet we’ve seen, because we’ve been in ministry for as many as we have, some very sad situations where I think wives really could have been the difference-maker if they would have challenged or confronted their husbands.
C.J.: So wouldn’t you say that over the years that some wives misunderstood submission and honor (or so it appears)? I think that has played a role. And for some it could be fear of man—fear of husband.
I can tell you this: For any marriage, correction of the husband by the wife would be one category on my short list of most important. If I observed a wife who was reluctant to correct her husband I would be concerned with that marriage. Obviously, I’m not arguing for a contentious marriage, but correction, humbly communicated, must be part of every marriage.
Part of what Carolyn has modeled personally and taught well is what she taught at the last Leadership Conference—“Watch Your Man”—in broadening an understanding and application of “helper” to include appropriate correction. I would argue that correction is not just part of marriage but an aspect of what it means to be fellow heirs of the grace of life.
Carolyn’s encouragement has been of immeasurable benefit to me, but equally so or more, on balance, has been her correction. She has protected me when sin was deceiving me. What a gift this has been to me!