Recommended Books

Disclaimer: These are books that I have read and found useful in my studies, but my recommendation of them in no way means that I 100% agree with everything in the books and everything the authors have to say in other books (as some of the annotations will reveal).

Recommended Reading:

Carson, D.A. – The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

A wonderful look at what the Bible teaches about God’s love for a generation of people who take for granted that they know what the Bible means when it talks about God’s love.

Carson, D.A. – Exegetical Fallacies

If you are learning hermeneutics, interested in sound arguments, and are even slightly interested in the Biblical Languages; read this book. It is incredibly dry, and at times hard to understand, but Carson’s discussion of Word-study and Grammatical fallacies are invaluable to our exegetical approach. Has helped correct me many times, highly recommend it!

Carson, D.A. – The Gagging of God

Dever, Mark; J. Ligon, Duncan III; et. al. – Preaching the Cross

A must read for pastors, 7 chapters by different authors on the necessity and approach to preaching the Cross from the pulpits (based on the Together for the Gospel conference).

Frame, John – The Doctrine of God

Frame, John – The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God

Frame, John – The Doctrine of the Word of God

Gentry, Peter J. and Wellum, Stephen J. – Kingdom Through Covenant

Too few today, outside of the academic world, understand how much our understanding of the overarching biblical metanarrative (i.e. Biblical theology, as manifest today most commonly in Dispensationalism(Pentecostal and many others) and Covenant theology(Reformed)) effects our understanding of theology and how we do hermeneutics. Through in-depth exegesis of the covenants found in Scripture the authors of Kingdom Through Covenant concluded that the correct model for Biblical theology, and the biblical metanarrative, is in a via-media between the two major views, this via-media is often called new covenant theology or progressive covanentalism.

Grudem, Wayne – Systematic Theology

An in-depth but accessible outline of Christian theology from the viewpoint of a 5 point Calvinist and Complementarian mildly Charismatic Baptist.

Owen, John – Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Difficult to read, but outstanding and highly applicable to daily life. READ IT!

Packer, J.I. – Knowing God

One of the first books on theology that I read (though as an Armininian at the time, a comment in his introduction got under my skin), this book is a wonderful and impacting look at the nature of our God.

Piper, John – Desiring God

An outstandingly biblical outline of a worldview Piper calls “Christian Hedonism.” It is summarized by the Pipers statement (loosely paraphrasing the Westminster Larger Catechism) that “the chief and highest end of man is to Glorify God by enjoying Him forever” (in contrast with the Catechism’s “and enjoy Him forever”). Our purpose in life is to bring glory to God, and a major way we do this is by finding peace, happiness (read the book to understand what exactly is meant by happiness), and contentment in Him and following His ways. Highly recommend reading it.

Piper, John – Think

A great exposition of how we are to love God not just with our emotions and actions, but also with the way we use our minds! Challenging to the mindset many Christians have of the absolute danger of knowledge and also to post-modern thinking in the church (though not addressing it directly).

Systematic Theologies:

Frame, John – Systematic Theology

Frame has produced an outstanding Systematic Theology, following after his lengthy Lordship Series. It is from a Reformed and cessationist perspective, but don’t let that deter you; Frame is committed to the Word of God and it shows, he is philosophically rigorous but biblically faithful and the result is a delightfully insightful and encouraging exposition of the Christian faith from a reformed perspective. Less accessible than Grudem, this is probably an intermediate to advanced level work.

Grudem, Wayne – Systematic Theology

While probably qualifying as an advanced/moderate level work (as seen in its use as a seminary level textbook), it is also accessible to a beginner/introductory level reader.

Ibid. – Bible Doctrine

Bible Doctrine is an abridgement of Grudem’s Systematic Theology that provides an even more accessible introduction to Christian Doctrine for laymen and college level courses. For a beginner/introductory level reader.

Lewis & Demarest – Integrative Theology

Integrative Theology takes a comprehensive approach to theology and approaches many different theological issues from a 5 fold method of Historical Theology, Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Apologetics, and Practical Theology. This is an evangelical work that comes from an evangelical, Calvinist, and Baptist. A great moderate level work.

Packer, J.I. – Concise Theology

A short and concise, but great, introduction to Christian theology from a reformed and charismatic Anglican perspective. Outstanding work at a beginner, but still useful at a moderate and higher, level.

Apologetics:

Frame, John – Apologetics to the Glory of God

Frame, John – The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God

Frame, John – The Doctrine of the Word of God

Nash, Ronald – Life’s Ultimate Questions

A helpful introduction to philosophy and overview of some key western thinkers.

Creationism:

Behe, Michael J. – Darwin’s Black Box

An amazing work on Irreducible Complexity that points to the need for a designer and delivers a devastating blow to mindless and undirected macro-evolution.

DeYoung, Dr. Don – Thousands Not Billions

This book is an introductory look at the research done by the RATE project on radio-carbon and other conventional dating methods and how they do not support the purported billions of years old that the earth is supposed to be according to Uniformitarian science.

Sarfati, Jonathan – Refuting Compromise

A biblical and scientific volume on why we need to take our stand on a literal 6 day creation and how this is compatible with the objective data of science.

Ibid. – Refuting Evolution

A great resource that was written in response to the National Academy of Sciences’ Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science that was freely distributed to teachers across America with the intent of convincing students of the absolute truth of Evolution and discrediting the idea of special creation.

Ibid. – Refuting Evolution 2

A thicker sequel to his best-selling Refuting Evolution, this time around Refuting Evolution 2 is in response to arguments presented by PBS-TV and the journal Scientific American. Specifically their respective eight-hour series Evolution and cover story “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.”

Williams, Alex & Hartnett, John – Dismantling the Big Bang

Presenting seldom heard (outside of Creationist circles) evidence against what has been presented by modern science as the impenetrable paradigm of the Big Bang Theory. (Do not agree with all the exegesis found inside to support their model [haven’t read this one in a while], but the scientific arguments are great!)

Hermeneutics/Exegesis:

Duvall, J. Scott & Hays, J. Daniel – Grasping God’s Word

An solid introduction to hermeneutical principles and the procedures of sound exegesis.

Fee, Gordon – New Testament Exegesis

A great guide to the procedures of New Testament Exegesis

Gentry, Peter J. and Wellum, Stephen J. – Kingdom Through Covenant

Goldsworthy, Graeme – Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics

An outstanding presentation of Christian Hermeneutics (the principles behind interpretation) with the Gospel at its center.

Osborne, Grant R. – The Hermeneutical Spiral

A helpful and lengthy introduction to hermeneutics.

Calvinism:

Carson, D.A. – The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

Edwards, Jonathan – Freedom of the Will

An outstanding philosophical defence of total depravity and the compatibility between man’s responsibility for his voluntary choices and God’s determination of the universe. The presents the philosophical perspective we today call Compatibilism, which says that while humankind doesn’t have free will–for God’s eternal plan and providential work in the world render all actions determined–we are still responsible for the actions we voluntarily take (also known as the power of voluntary choice, in contrast with Libertarian Free Will and the power of contrary choice).

Horton, Michael – For Calvinism

A great and Scriptural presentation of the 5 points of Calvinism, cleverly labelled TULIP.  While I don’t agree with many of the finer points of the reformed doctrines that Horton holds dear, his presentation of TULIP is great and accessible.

Luther, Martin – The Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio)

An outstanding, and still highly relevant, response to the free will theology of Erasmus (echoed today by Molinists and Armininians) which balances philosophical arguments and a Scriptural exposition of Total Depravity. Luther is at his finest here in this book, though his arguments and rhetoric may seem sharp and quite mean.

Owen, John – The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

This is the most exhaustive presentation and defence of the Calvinist understanding of Limited Atonement. I would recommend reading along side the corresponding section in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and the short Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson so as to get a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of God’s love and the difference between His love for the elect (Ephesians 5:25) and His love for all man (John 3:16).

Pink, A.W. – The Sovereignty of God

The book provides an outstanding look at God’s providence in this world and his absolute sovereignty in all things. It also provides a great discussion of God’s secret and revealed wills. This being said, be careful reading this one for he presents a High Calvinist (supralapsinarian) perspective and teaches that God does not love the non-elect, a view he attempts to defend in an appendix on John 3:16. I find this view to be unscriptural, and while this book is a very profitable read it should be balanced by a look at D.A. Carson’s short but outstanding book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.

Rutherford, J. Alexander – Prevenient Grace: An Investigation into Arminianism

This is my soon-to-be-released book on Arminianism. Employing exegetical, biblical, and systematic theology, I attempt to show that Arminian theology depends on the doctrine of prevenient grace and that this doctrine has no biblical foundation. In the process, I build exegetical and biblical theological cases for total depravity, effectual calling, and unconditional election.

Sproul, R.C. – Chosen By God

A great look at Unconditional Election, the second point in the Calvinist TULIP.

Ibid. – What Is Reformed Theology?

A great introduction to reformed theology, while I don’t agree with paedobaptism and various other reformed positions this book is a great introduction to Reformed theology and provides great discussion on TULIP as well as the traditional distinction between God’s secret and revealed wills.

Complementarianism:

Grudem, Wayne & Piper, John (editors) – Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

And outstanding look at what Scripture has to say about the distinct God given roles that men and women have. While stressing equality in value the writers of this work write against Evangelical Feminism which says that men and women are functionally equal in every way and do not have any distinct God given roles. The writers show how, outside of a smattering of heresies (e.g. Montanism), this is a historically unknown view and contrary to the overall testimony of Scripture.

Baxter, Richard – The Godly Home

A powerful puritan perspective on what a godly home looks like, touching on the relationships within a family which includes the Complementarian understanding of husband and wife relations.

Alternate Perspectives: These are books that disagree with my stance on a lot of the unessential[1] issues within Christian theology.

Geisler, Norman – Chosen But Free

This book presents a Dispensational perspective on how we are saved, Geisler presents his position as “Moderate Calvinism” but to do this he completely re-interprets the five points of Calvinism with no regard for historical categories, he ends up with an incoherent mixture of Dispensational Once Saved Always Saved, Arminian Unconditional Election, and the Semi-Pelagian understanding of grace and total depravity. (contra. the more mainstream Arminianism and definitely in contrast with Calvinism).

Olson, Roger – Against Calvinism

In the end a foundationally flawed and ineffective book, it still works towards the purpose of understanding why people disagree with Calvinism and how we can better present and defend this doctrine. It also provides an effective testing ground of an understanding of the doctrines and will mostly likely leave a Calvinist encouraged about where he or she stands.

Olson, Roger – Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities

To disagree with a position means that we actually need to understand it. On both sides of the Calvinist-Arminian debate misunderstanding and mischaracterization abounds. While many of these mischaracterizations come about because proponents of the different sides in this debate like to apply the argument “reductio ad absurdum” and characterize the opposing position with what they believe is the logical conclusion of a belief, there are many mischaracterizations that stem out of a lack of understanding as to the other’s position or attributing historical expressions of a position to the contemporary expressions. By reading the literature of a position we disagree with we can better understand where they are coming from and achieve a greater level of civil dialogue with our brothers and sister who we find ourselves disagreeing with. It is towards this end that I present Arminian Theology, a book I highly disagree with, as a book that presents the actual beliefs of the majority of evangelicals who call themselves Arminians and will help Calvinists interact with their  Arminian colleagues and peers. Because Arminianism is a major perspective in the 3 (or 4) way debate that exists on this aspect of our salvation–A debate between Calvinists; Arminians, with their subset Molinists; and Semi-Pelagians or full on Pelagians (which is sadly probably the majority position)–we should endeavour to have the best understanding of it as possible, for this purpose we must turn to what they have to say on their own position.

[1] By unessential I am by no means suggesting that these issues do not matter, for they have profound implications for our daily lives, but that they do not affect whether we are saved or not. Holding to Calvinism or Arminianism does affect the way we pray and the way we live our lives, but being wrong on this issue will not leave someone unsaved and heading for Hell (whereas compromise on the foundational and core doctrines of the Christian Church, such as the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ or the doctrine of the Trinity, are issues where no quarter can be given without eviscerating the faith and leaving someone outside of the Church) .

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