- Biblical Studies & Hermeneutics
- Biblical Theology
- Systematic Theology
- Apologetics & Philosophy
- Church History & Historical Theology
- Practical Theology
- Classics, &tc.
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 a list previously provided by Westminster Theological Seminary. 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
- Ridderbos, Herman N. Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 1988.
- Poythress, Vern S. God-Centered Biblical Interpretation. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub., 1999.
- Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Zondervan, 2005.
- Beale, G.K. The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
- Poythress, Vern S. Understanding Dispensationalists. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 1993.
- Gaffin, Jr., Richard B. “The Redemptive-Historical View.” In Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views, edited by Stanley E Porter and Beth M Stovell. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2012.
- Vos, Geerhardus. Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos. Edited by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. Phillipsburg N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2001.
- Tipton, Lane G. “The Gospel and Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics.” In Confident of Better Things: Essays Commemorating Seventy-Five Years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, edited by John R. Muether and Danny E. Olinger. Willow Grove, PA: The Committee on Christian Education for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2011.
- Ridderbos, Herman. The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.
- Vos, Geerhardus. Grace and Glory: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary. Grand Rapids Mich.: The Reformed Press, 1922.
- Ridderbos, Herman N. When the Time Had Fully Come: Studies in New Testament Theology. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001.
- Poythress, Vern. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1995.
- Vos, Geerhardus. Biblical Theology. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000.
- Kline, Meredith G. Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006.
- Ridderbos, Herman. The Coming of the Kingdom. Edinburgh: Christian World Publications, 1979.
- Vos, Geerhardus. The Kingdom of God and the Church. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1972.
- Vos, Geerhardus. The Pauline Eschatology. P&R Publishing, 1979.
- Beale, G.K. A New Testament Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011.
- Beale, G.K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
- Vos, Geerhardus. The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1956.
- Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction. Banner of Truth, 1981.
- Murray, John. Redemption, Accomplished and Applied. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1955.
- Warfield, B.B. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Philadelphia, Pa.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1948.
- Young, E.J. Thy Word is Truth. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1963.
- Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. The Plan of Salvation. Boonton, NJ: Simpson Pub. Co., 1989.
- Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990.
- Murray, John. Collected Writings of John Murray. Four volumes. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977.
- Gaffin, Jr. Richard B. Resurrection and Redemption. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1987.
- Ferguson, Sinclair. The Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.
- Kline, Meredith G. Images of the Spirit. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999. (This could also easily fall under biblical theology.)
- Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics, four volumes. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. Baker Academic, 2003-2008.
- Oliphint, K. Scott, ed. Justified In Christ: God’s Plan for Us in Justification. Mentor, 2007.
- Ridderbos, Herman N. Paul: An Outline of His Theology. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977.
- Van Til, Cornelius. Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God. 2nd ed. P&R Publishing, 2007.
Apologetics & Philosophy
- Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009.
- Oliphint, K. Scott. The Battle Belongs to the Lord. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003.
- Pratt, Richard. Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth. Phillipsburg N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1979.
- Bahnsen, Greg L. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Covenant Media Press, 1996.
- Rousas J. Rushdoony. By What Standard?: An Analysis of the Philosophy of Cornelius Van Til Vallecito, California: Ross House Books, 1995.
- Oliphint, K. Scott. Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013.
- Van Til, Cornelius and Greg L. Bahnsen, ed. Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis. P&R Publishing, 1998.
- Van Til, Cornelius with annotations by K. Scott Oliphint. The Defense of the Faith. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 2008.
- Oliphint, K. Scott, and Lane G. Tipton, (eds.) Revelation and Reason. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2007.
- Bahnsen, Greg. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Powder Springs Ga.; Nacogdoches Tex.: American Vision Inc.; Covenant Media Press, 2008.
- 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
- Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993.
- Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. Yale University Press, 2005.
- Lindberg, Carter. The European Reformations. Oxford, OX, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
- Hart, D. G., and John R. Muether. Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism. P & R Publishing, 2007.
- Hart, D. G. Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2004.
- Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978.
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid. The Reformation: A History. Viking Adult, 2004.
- Noll, Mark A. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New Ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.
- Muller, Richard A. Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, Ca. 1520 to Ca. 1725. 2nd ed. 4 volumes. Grand Rapids Mich: Baker Academic, 2003.
- Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.
- Livingston, James C., Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Sarah Coakley, and James H. Evans Jr. Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century. 2nd ed. Fortress Press, 2006.
- Clowney, Edmund P. Called to the Ministry. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1976.
- Warfield, B.B. The Religious Life of Theological Students. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.
- Lane, Tim and Paul Tripp. How People Change. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2008.
Hart, D. G., and John R. Muether. With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship. P&R Publishing, 2002.
- Powlison, David. Seeing With New Eyes. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2003.
- Welch, Ed. Blame It On the Brain. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1998.
Johnson, Dennis. Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures. Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Pub., 2007.
- Powlison, David. The Biblical Counseling Movement. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010.
- Murray, John. Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics. Grand Rapids Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1957.
- Robinson, Stuart. The Church of God as an Essential Element of the Gospel, and the Idea, Structure, and Functions Thereof. A Discourse in Four Parts. Willow Grove Pa.: Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2009.
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.
- Dennison, James T. Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume I, 1523-1552. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008.
- Augustine. The Confessions. New Ed. New City Press, 2003. (There are also various paperback editions available.)
- Luther, Martin, J. I Packer, and O. R. Johnston. The Bondage of the Will. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1957.
- 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.