Suggested Reading List

Introduction

People often ask us to recommend books. While the occasional inquirer asks about a specific issue, most simply seek general guidance in beginning a Reformed program of learning. There are so many good books to read! But we have to begin somewhere. We have found that having a well organized and thorough reading plan promotes discipline and forces the reader to have a breadth of knowledge that will enrich the reader’s studies in all areas. Our list is ambitious, but slightly skewed. For instance, our church history section is heavy on American history, since—for better or worse—our constituency is overwhelmingly American. Also, this list is in progress. We will add items, remove others, and move things around as new books are published and we receive feedback.

Several of these suggestions come from the Westminster Theological Seminary recommended reading list, which we encourage you to review. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church have made these available online in a variety of formats. But above all, and we cannot stress this highly enough, prayerfully read your Bible regularly in such a manner that you work through all of Scripture—preferably at least once each year. Theological study is worthless—even detrimental—apart from a life spent in prayer and reading God’s Word.

How to Use this List

Within each discipline, the readings are divided into three categories corresponding to when it would be appropriate to read them. This does not always correspond to difficulty. Occasionally, a level three work will be stylistically accessible, but simply would not be applicable until you have worked through the content in the level one and two works. We have also attempted to list the titles within a given level in a suggested reading order. Nonetheless, each reader has a unique experience and particular acumen, so these suggestions should be viewed with a measure of flexibility.

Readers new to the Reformed tradition may find even these first level books quite challenging, but be strong and courageous. Keep working hard and asking questions. After mastering the first level material, move to the second level books. Since the disciplines inform one another, it is important to build a wide foundation before moving to the next level. Therefore, complete the level one material in every discipline before moving to any of the second levels. Likewise, move to the third levels only after you have a firm grasp on all of the intermediate material. This is not a race. You will benefit much more by careful, patient, and deliberate reading. Think quality, not quantity.

Biblical Studies & Hermeneutics

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Biblical Theology

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Systematic Theology

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Apologetics & Philosophy

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

  • Oliphint, K. Scott. Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology. Phillipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Jones, W. T. A History of Western Philosophy, five volumes. You can save large amounts of money (e.g. $100 vs. $2) by buying these used from sites like bookfinder.com or abebooks.com. They are often assigned as textbooks in universities, and students tend to sell them at the end of each semester.

Church History & Historical Theology

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Practical Theology

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Classics, &tc.

Many of these titles are recognized Christian classics and/or foundational works for contemporary Reformed thought. As such, they are important works to read for historical breadth and sensitivity. Many different editions of these titles are available, including electronic editions, which are often available for free in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Level 1

Level 2

  • Anselm. Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Edited by Brian Davies and G. R. Evans. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Owen, John, and W. H. Goold, ed. The Works of John Owen. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965. Focus on volumes six and ten.

Level 3