My reading program is admittedly ambitious. This list does not include “practical theology” because I pick and choose those items throughout the year and read them in my “morning worship” time each day. Those works range from a selection from the Puritan Paperbacks from the Banner of Truth Trust or some other practical work. Currently, I am reading through J.C. Ryle’s volume Practical Religion. When that is complete, I will work on his book on Holiness. I also choose volumes from one of the sets ranging from Flavel to Manton.
UPDATE: You can download the full bibliography below (docx and pdf format).
Here is my list for 2018.
Theological (Systematic, Biblical, etc.)
- The Institutes of the Christian Religion (John Calvin) — I have attempted to read through both volumes of the McNeil translation many times. This year, Lord willing, will be the year when I actually complete the primary work of John Calvin. There is a very nice reading plan available that can be followed in order to stay on track. I will also be reading Knowing God and Ourselves (Calhoun) and A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes (Hall and Lillback) as a supplementary reading of The Institutes.
- Reformed Dogmatics (Herman Bavinck) — I have decided to read the one-volume edited edition instead of the four-volume work. This edition was edited by John Bolt.
I will be creating a reading planner in order to keep me on track and I will offer it here once it is complete. The reading guide is complete. You can download it below in PDF format. From Amazon:
From the Back Cover
“After bringing Bavinck’s magisterial Reformed Dogmatics to an English speaking audience, John Bolt has crowned the effort with this abridgment that will surely make the work accessible to a wider audience. For his commanding breadth of learning in biblical, systematic, historical, and philosophical theology as well as the rich depth of his exegetical and doctrinal insights, Bavinck stands out as the most important Reformed theologian of the nineteenth century. With Bolt’s footnotes, obscure figures and debates are explained and their contemporary significance noted. This volume is a gift and a treasure, offering us one of the richest veins in the history of dogmatics.”–Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor, Westminster Seminary California
Praise for Bavinck’s four-volume Reformed Dogmatics
“Bavinck was a man of giant mind, vast learning, ageless wisdom, and great expository skill. Solid but lucid, demanding but satisfying, broad and deep and sharp and stabilizing, Bavinck’s magisterial Reformed Dogmatics remains after a century the supreme achievement of its kind.”–J. I. Packer, Regent College
“Finally Bavinck becomes available to the English-speaking world. The Dutch version has been a constant stimulus for students, pastors, and other interested Christians. It has shaped generations of theologians and helped them to preach, think, and act on a fresh, Reformed basis. The strength of Bavinck’s dogmatics is that it’s neither conservative nor progressive, but its biblical character makes it constantly up-to-date.”–Herman Selderhuis, Theologische Universiteit Appeldoorn
“What a wonderful gift to the English-speaking theological world! The topics explored by Bavinck are still of the utmost importance, and he addresses them here in a theological voice that is amazingly fresh.”–Richard J. Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Bavinck is one of the premier Reformed theologians, but till now much of his magnum opus has not been accessible to English-language readers. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who have made the treasures of Bavinck’s thought available to a new world of appreciative hearers.”–Donald K. McKim, editor, Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith
A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life offers a groundbreaking treatment of the Puritans’ teaching on most major Reformed doctrines, particularly those doctrines in which the Puritans made significant contributions. Since the late 1950s, nearly 150 Puritan authors and 700 Puritan titles have been reprinted and catalogued by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their 2006 collection of mini-biographies and book reviews, titled, Meet the Puritans. However, no work until now has gathered together the threads of their teaching into a unified tapestry of systematic theology.
A Puritan Theology, byJoel Beeke and Mark Jones, attempts to do that. The book addresses Puritan teachings on all six loci of theology, covering fifty areas of doctrine. The book explores Puritan teachings on biblical interpretation, God, predestination, providence, angels, sin, the covenants, the gospel, Christ, preparation for conversion, regeneration, coming to Christ, justification, adoption, church government, the Sabbath, preaching, baptism, heaven, hell, and many other topics. It ends with eight chapters that explore Puritan “theology in practice.” Some chapters highlight the work of a specific theologian such as William Perkins, William Ames, John Owen, Stephen Charnock, or Thomas Goodwin on a specific topic. Other chapters survey various authors on a particular subject. The goal of A Puritan Theology is to increase knowledge in the mind and godliness in the soul. It was written for theologians, historians, pastors, and educated laymen who seek to learn more about Puritan theology.
- Systematic Theology (Dabney) — When I was in seminary, one of my professors threatened to fail me because I did not own this book. I own it now and will be working through it over 2018. I will be creating a reading planner in order to keep me on track and I will offer it here once it is complete. From the website:
‘R.L. Dabney was the most conspicuous figure and the leading theological guide of the Southern Presbyterian Church, the most prolific theological writer that Church has as yet produced, and for a period of over forty years one of the most distinguished and probably the most impressive teacher of its candidates for the ministry. As a preacher, as a teacher and as a writer equally he achieved greatness, and in the counsels of the State and of the Church alike he was a factor of importance. In the wider theological history of the country and of the epoch he finds a worthy place as one of the younger members of a remarkable company of theologians to whose lot it fell to reassert and reorganize the historical faith of the Reformed Churches in the face of the theological ferment which marked the earlier years of the Nineteenth Century.’ — B.B. WARFIELD
‘Hodge gives an excellent, general statement of the Reformed Faith, yet Dabney adds something beyond the general treatment of most subjects. When his method of teaching is recalled, of sending his students to the standard texts on theology (including Hodge), and then adding his own observations on each doctrine in the class from which his “Theology” was derived, it is to be expected that his work would have a certain freshness to it, and this is just what is found. He begot in his men something akin to his own vigor and strength, his love of truth and of God.’ — MORTON H. SMITH
The fact that his Systematic Theology, first published in 1871, is now in its ninth edition is proof in itself that the volume is not superfluous.
- The Church of Christ (Bannerman) — I should have read both of these volumes a long time ago. I will be creating a reading planner in order to keep me on track and I will offer it here once it is complete. From the website:
The New Testament places the church at the centre of its practical vision of the Christian life and at the heart of the Great Commission. A church-less Christianity is no real Christianity at all.
As we head into a world very similar to Paul’s own context, in which pluralism dominates and Christianity is regarded with intellectual and moral suspicion, it is vital that Christians have a clear understanding of what the church actually is.
James Bannerman’s The Church of Christ is one of the key historic texts of the doctrine of the church. Few will agree with everything the author has to say, but as Carl Trueman states in his foreword, ‘the great thing about the book is that it will stimulate the reader to reflect on the nature of the church in a profoundly biblical and historically sensitive way’.
After dealing with basic principles and distinctions, such as the contrast between the visible and invisible church, and between the local and universal church, Bannerman takes up the important and far-reaching question of the relation between church and state. But the body of the work is really a treatise on church power—the nature, limits and exercise of Christ’s power in the church in its connexional and local aspects. In what does the ordained ministry consist? Should the church micro-manage the lives of her members? To what extent should the church campaign for wider political or social causes? Is the church to be an agent for the transformation of society as a whole? What tools does the church have for making disciples and, if necessary, disciplining them? Answers to these questions can only come from a correct understanding of the nature of the church’s power.
Although Presbyterian in conviction, the author has undertaken a ‘comparative’ study of the various classic positions on each issue under consideration as these are expressed in the confessional symbols and standard authors. It is this method which makes the book so useful for all serious-minded readers. The appendix also contains valuable bibliographical material.
This is classic Scottish theology at its best, and those who take the time to digest it will be richly rewarded.
- The Presbyterian Standards (Beattie) — I have read most of this book in the past, but I want to go through it in 2018 as a refresher to the Westminster Standards. Additionally, I will be reading Confessing the Faith: A Readers Guide to the Westminster Confession (Van Dixhoorn).
- The Glory of Christ (Owen) — this is the first volume of The Works of John Owen. From the website:
Despite his other achievements, Owen is best famed for his writings. These cover the range of doctrinal, ecclesiastical and practical subjects. They are characterized by profundity, thoroughness and, consequently, authority. Andrew Thomson said that Owen ‘makes you feel when he has reached the end of his subject, that he has also exhausted it.’ Although many of his works were called forth by the particular needs of his own day they all have a uniform quality of timelessness. Owen’s works were republished in full in the nineteenth century. Owen is surely the Prince of the Puritans. ‘To master his works’, says Spurgeon, ‘is to be a profound theologian.’
At the beginning of the twentieth century, James Macdonald of Edinburgh purchased a box of old papers which had belonged to a preacher of around sixty years earlier. The contents might have seemed of little value, but to some they were altogether priceless. They were the notebooks and sermon notes of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-43), the godly and devoted minister of St Peter’s Church, Dundee.
From these papers, lodged in the library of New College, Edinburgh, Dr Michael D. McMullen has transcribed New Testament Sermons.
They are indeed a precious treasure. Whether based on Old Testament or New, every sermon is full of Christ: the sinner’s need of Him, the fullness of His grace, the happiness of those who come to Him, and the danger of stopping short of genuine faith in Him. They will remind preachers and ordinary Christians alike that to preach Christ aright, one must first know Him, and live in the atmosphere of His love.
No Christian can read the biography or Sermons of Robert Murray M’Cheyne without realizing that the true measure of life is not its length but its usefulness. He ministered but a short seven-and-a-half years, and died at the age of 29, yet the fruitfulness of that brief life remains to this day.
Nor does the amount of our activity or our words reflect the true value of our life. Robert Murray M’Cheyne left notes of only some 200 sermons when he died in 1843, but his own counsel to a fellow minister explains why these sermons brought such abundant blessing not only to ‘the noisy mechanics and political weavers’ of Dundee but, later, to all parts of the English-speaking world:
‘Get your texts from God – your thoughts, your words, from God…It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God’s Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin’.
Few books have been better loved than the Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Its circulation underlines this. First published in 1844, within twenty-five years it went through one hundred and sixteen English editions. In 1910 it was estimated that, including translations into other languages, not less than half a million copies were in circulation. Few books have had such a widespread influence on the lives of God’s people. Testimonies to its usefulness were received from many lands and Christians of differing theological persuasions have testified to the blessing experiences through reading it.
Few books contain such variety and wealth of spiritual matter between their covers. As well as the life covering 174 pages, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne contains a good selection of letters, sermons, other writings and sacred songs.
- Sermons of B.M. Palmer — a collection of sermons by the New Orleans Pastor, called to be the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans in 1843.
Church History and Biography
In 1905, Westminster Press published History of the Presbyterian Churches of the World by church historian Richard Clark Reed (1851–1925). Reed’s book, intended as a textbook for college and seminary students, covered the history of churches that subscribed to Presbyterian polity from the New Testament era to the beginning of the twentieth century. Based on Reed’s original work as well as an unpublished manuscript by Presbyterian historian Thomas Hugh Spence Jr. (1899–1986), Presbyterian and Reformed Churches: A Global History picks up the story of Presbyterian and Reformed churches where the earlier works left off. In this volume, James McGoldrick revises and updates Reed’s and Spence’s original, historically relevant works, continuing the survey to the twenty-first century.
Each chapter traces the history of Presbyterian and Reformed churches in individual nations and regions around the globe. The author covers the major events, leaders, and institutions influencing Presbyterian and Reformed church history in a readable style that is ideally suited for classroom study as well as for independent reading. A list of suggested additional readings concludes each chapter.
During the glory days of the French Renaissance, young John Calvin (1509-1564) experienced a profound conversion to the faith of the Reformation. For the rest of his days he lived out the implications of that transformation—as exile, inspired reformer, and ultimately the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s vision of the Christian religion has inspired many volumes of analysis, but this engaging biography examines a remarkable life. Bruce Gordon presents Calvin as a human being, a man at once brilliant, arrogant, charismatic, unforgiving, generous, and shrewd.
The book explores with particular insight Calvin’s self-conscious view of himself as prophet and apostle for his age and his struggle to tame a sense of his own superiority, perceived by others as arrogance. Gordon looks at Calvin’s character, his maturing vision of God and humanity, his personal tragedies and failures, his extensive relationships with others, and the context within which he wrote and taught. What emerges is a man who devoted himself to the Church, inspiring and transforming the lives of others, especially those who suffered persecution for their religious beliefs.
There are many biographies of John Calvin, the theologian–some villifying him and others extolling his virtues–but few that reveal John Calvin, the man. Professor and renowned Reformation historian Herman Selderhuis has written this book to bring Calvin near to the reader, showing him as a man who had an impressive impact on the development of the Western world, but who was first of all a believer struggling with God and with the way God governed both the world and his own life. Selderhuis draws on Calvin’s own publications and commentary on the biblical figures with whom he strongly identified to describe his theology in the context of his personal development. Throughout we see a person who found himself alone at many of the decisive moments of his life–a fact that echoed through Calvin’s subsequent sermons and commentaries. Selderhuis’s unique and compelling look at John Calvin, with all of his merits and foibles, ultimately discloses a man who could not find himself at home in the world in which he lived.
There can be few Christians who changed the life of nations only to be as little remembered as George Whitefield. In part this was because he left no denomination. Except for the short biography by the Scotsman, John Gillies (published two years after his death), Whitefield’s memory was left largely in the hands of those who wished to attribute his influence to ‘theatrical talent’ and fanaticism. The tide of unfavorable opinion did not change until the publication of Robert Philip’s volume in 1837. By 1852 J.C. Ryle was among those popularizing the belief that ‘Whitefield was one of the most powerful and extraordinary preachers the world has ever seen.’ Later and more definitive biographies were to confirm this opinion, notably the two volumes of Luke Tyerman 1876-1877 and of Arnold Dallimore in 1970 and 1980.
Philip’s biography, however, remains the best account in a single volume. Drawing on the testimony of those who had a personal knowledge of his subject, and from his own extensive study of Whitefield’s journals, letters and sermons, Philip grasped the great lesson of the evangelist’s life, namely, that it is the Holy Spirit who makes preachers.
Philip is not an uncritical biographer, and he is ready to note weaknesses and failures that admirers of Whitefield have sometimes passed over. But the outstanding feature of his work is the way in which he allows his subject to speak for himself. He seems to have absorbed all that Whitefield ever said and wrote, and his selection brings us into direct contact with the man. Thus Philip can truthfully write: ‘This work is chiefly from Whitefield’s own pen. So far as it is mine, it is in his own spirit.’
For those who want a work of quiet scholarship, Philip is not their man. But where there is a desire for the evangelical flame-for words that burn, and reach heart and soul- this volume will clearly show why the gospel can turn the world upside down.
Charles Hodge (1797-1878) is regarded by many as the most significant American theologian of the nineteenth century. He drove forward the rapid growth of theological education and contributed to Presbyterianism’s wide-ranging influence in public life. His advocacy of a Reformed orthodoxy combed with evangelical piety attracted a broad following within Old School Presbyterianism that spilled over into American evangelicalism as a whole. Hodge helped to define a distinctive ministerial model— the pastor-scholar—and his finger prints can be observed all over the Reformed Christian scene today.
Includes a Foreword by Mark A. Noll
This is a much needed work on the life and theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck, an increasingly important influence on the church landscape and one of the finest and best theologians that Holland ever produced. Gleason describes Bavinck’s education at Leiden University, his first and only pastoral ministry in the Friesian village of Franeker, his fruitful time in Kampen as professor of the Theological Seminary there, and his eventual transfer to the Free University.
This is a thought-provoking portrait of an influential man written by one of the leading authorities on his life and ideas. Gleason takes you on a journey with Bavinck through his whole life until the events surrounding his death in 1921.
Includes an Introduction by Roger Nicole
Preaching – Pastoral Ministry
This is a detailed book covering every aspect of the sermon and a section on the preacher, plus supplemental chapters on ‘Knowing God’s Will For Your Life’ and ‘Worship According to the Word.’ If you preach even occasionally, this is a book you cannot afford to miss.
Table of Contents:
1. The Nature of a Sermon
2. The Person of the Preacher
Supplement #1: Knowing God’s Will for Your Life
3. The Form of the Sermon
4. The Parts of a Sermon
5. Procedure for Composing a Sermon
6. Preparing to Deliver a Sermon that has been Composed
7. Considerations During the Delivery of a Sermon
Supplement #2: Worship according to the Word
The nature of the relationship between the Spirit of God and the Word of God has been debated among believers for centuries. Is the Spirit present wherever and whenever the Word is preached?
Ralph Cunnington explores this and in particular the narrow historical theological question of what the Protestant Reformers, in particular John Calvin, actually taught on this topic. With careful and incisive scholarship, and writing that is both clear and cogent, we travel through this question.
God’s Word is powerful, and when preached clearly and applied pertinently it can change lives. Yet preaching does not always have this impact. When it is concerned merely with teaching information, it can leave congregations unmoved, and when it sacrifices substance for relevance, it shortchanges the power of the text.
According to Kenton Anderson, professor of homiletics at ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University, this volume represents “a powerful tool” because it offers a new (actually old) model of preaching. For centuries, preaching has been shaped from a literary standpoint (i.e., reading, writing, outlining, and displaying sermons), but a premodern method of oral preparation and delivery has largely been forgotten. Preaching by Ear hearkens back to an earlier era when sermons were rooted inside the preacher and moved out in a natural and powerful way.
Michael Dudit, executive editor of Preaching magazine, writes in the foreword, “the reader will find in this book a valuable discussion of what persuasion really is, what the Bible has to say about it, how it is modeled in the New Testament, and what role persuasion should and should not play in our own preaching in the twenty-first century. The author has provided solid biblical content and practical guidance that will be a powerful resource for preachers and church leaders. He writes with clarity and―dare I say it?―persuasive power. I hope you will be as blessed by this book as I have been.”
Some Pastors and Teachers is a volume for every minister’s study and indeed for the bookshelves and bedside tables of everyone who has a concern for the ministry of the gospel and the well-being of the church in the twenty-first century. In many ways, it reflects the biblical vision of what every minister is called to be: pastor, teacher, counsellor, and example—but also a man who is growing spiritually, both in understanding and in character, before the eyes of his congregation.
In five sections and thirty-nine chapters, Sinclair B Ferguson writes on pastor-teachers whose life and work have left an indelible mark on his own life, and then leads us in a series of chapters on the teaching of John Calvin, John Owen and the seventeenth century Puritans. This is followed by studies of Scripture, the ministry of the Spirit, the nature of Biblical Theology, the work of Christ, adoption, the nature of the Christian life and other important doctrines. The final section discusses various aspects of preaching, including preaching Christ from the Old Testament, the importance of theology, reaching the heart, and concludes with a decalogue for preachers. All this, as the epilogue makes clear, is set within the context and goal of doxology.
Here is a book to return to again and again, for instruction, for challenge, and also for enjoyment. While written particularly with ministers in view its style makes it accessible to all. Dr Ferguson describes Some Pastors and Teachers as a series of small gifts for fellow-ministers and others, written as an expression of the love of Christ. It is calculated to help both ministers of the gospel and entire congregations to realize Paul’s vision of churches growing up into Christ as they are nourished and taught by their pastors and teachers.
For years, Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Exegesis has been one of the most popular ways to learn how to perform exegesis–the science and art of interpreting biblical texts properly for understanding as well as proclamation. Completely updated and substantially expanded, this new edition includes scores of newer resources, a new configuration of the format for the exegesis process, and an entirely new section explaining where to find and how to use the latest electronic and online resources for doing biblical research. Stuart provides guidance for full exegesis as well as for a quicker approach to provide information specifically tailored to the task of preaching. A glossary of terms explains the sometimes bewildering language of biblical scholarship, and a list of frequent errors guides the student in avoiding common mistakes. No exegetical guide for the Old Testament has been more widely used in training ministers and students to be faithful, careful interpreters of Scripture.
Building on the belief that the task of exegesis is to understand the divine-human intention locked within the biblical text, Gordon Fee provides a lucid step-by-step analysis of exegetical procedures that has made New Testament Exegesis a standard textbook for nearly two decades. Now more than ever, with an updated, newly integrated bibliography and an appendix directly addressing reader-response criticism, this essential, classic guide will assist students, scholars, and clergy in coming to grips with the New Testament.
This comprehensive, conversational book is for anyone who wants to understand and apply the Bible—and the New Testament in particular—in a responsible, well–informed, and God–glorifying way. Naselli is an able guide, walking readers through a carefully field–tested twelve–stage interpretive process that pastors, scholars, teachers, and laypeople can use with benefit.
- Move from genre to textual criticism, take Greek grammar and literary context into account, and journey through the passage all the way to practical application.
- Learn how to track an author’s thought–flow, grasp the text’s message, and apply the ancient Word in this modern world, all in light of Christ’s redeeming work.
- Go further in your studies using the extensive recommended resources for every step of the way.
With engaging illustrations and practical answers at their fingertips, readers will master the skills needed to deepen understanding and shape theology with confidence and wisdom.
This book is for anyone who wants to learn how to observe carefully, understand accurately, evaluate fairly, feel appropriately, act rightly, and express faithfully God’s revealed Word, especially as embodied in the Old Testament.
- Follow an extensively field-tested twelve-step process to deepen understanding and shape theology (biblical, systematic, and practical).
- Engage with numerous illustrations from Scripture that model these interpretive steps.
- Learn how to track an author’s thought-flow, grasp the text’s message, and apply the ancient Word in this modern world, all in light of Christ’s redeeming work.
Loaded with examples, practical answers, and recommended resources, the twelve chapters will empower believers to study, practice, and teach the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, understanding and applying it in ways that nurture hope in the gospel and magnify the Messiah.
- Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics (Wallace) — I own the video lectures of this book and will be watching them as I read through this book. This was the primary text when I was in intermediate Greek in seminary and look forward to the needed review. From the website:
Listen to an episode of Christ the Center entitled New Testament Textual Criticism in the 21st Century. (Reformed Forum)
For seminary students, the goal of studying Greek grammar is the accurate exegesis of biblical texts. Sound exegesis requires that the exegete consider grammar within a larger framework that includes context, lexeme, and other linguistic features.
While the trend of some grammarians has been to take a purely grammatical approach to the language, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics integrates the technical requirements for proper Greek interpretation with the actual interests and needs of Bible students. It is the first textbook to systematically link syntax and exegesis of the New Testament for second-year Greek students. It explores numerous syntactical categories, some of which have not previously been dealt with in print.
Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is the most up-to-date Greek grammar available. It equips intermediate Greek students with the skills they need to do exegesis of biblical texts in a way that is faithful to their intended meaning. The expanded edition contains a subject index, a Greek word index, and page numbers in the Syntax Summary section.
An academic staple updated for the first time in fifteen years, David Alan Black‘s user-friendly introduction to New Testament Greek keeps discussion of grammar as non-technical as possible. The simplified explanations, basic vocabularies, and abundant exercises are designed to prepare the student for subsequent practical courses in exegesis, while the linguistic emphasis lays the groundwork for later courses in grammar. Revisions to this third edition include updated discussions and scholarship, further back matter vocabulary references, and additional appendices.
- Basics of Biblical Greek (Van Pelt) — I own the video lectures of this book and will be watching them as I work through this book (and workbook). I am looking forward to strengthening my Hebrew.