Thursday, May 27, 2010

Theology books

What theological books do you recommend, folks?

I've just purchased Robert Culver's Systematic Theology. I've read bits and pieces of books on theology, but have not read through a whole systematic theology, though I've read a good portion of Wayne Grudem's book.

What I like about Grudem is that his basic outlook seems biblical, but also he writes in a style that is easy to read. For some reason, writers of theology often write in technical language, seemingly of their own invention.

I did read Book One of Calvin's Institutes having intended to read the whole shebang, but ended up foundering in his discussion of the law in Book 2.

Years ago I read Berkhof's Summary of Christian Doctrine and T C Hammond's "In Understanding Be Men." [The very title sounds outmoded now.]

I also read Bruce Milne's "Know the Truth."

The internet can be a trap. I tend to surf and read bits and pieces here and there, and read less of books. But I'm aiming to change that and at the moment I'm wading through John Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch. It is well worth reading, but I think the 600 pages could have been compressed to about 300 or maybe even 200. It is extremely repetitive, but what he has to say makes you think about how the Bible was put together, the meaning of the Old Testament and the Pentateuch in particular and many other things.

A Reader's Digest condensed version would be appreciated and could be done without taking away at all from what he says.

4 comments:

Gordon Cheng said...

Calvin's Institutes are worth revisiting.

Athanasius's stuff, just superb, though I admit not systematic.

TC Hammond In Understanding be Men.

Gordon Cheng said...

Oops realized you mentioned TC.

Well try the next principal of Moore then; DB Knox. A delight, though again, not systematic.

Andrew said...

I like Grudem too, David, and can identify with what you say about the simplicity of his language and the non-simplicity of others. I've also found some of the IVP Contours of Christian Theology to be very helpful particularly 'The Revelation of God' by Peter Jensen.

patrick said...

As far as more "down-to-earth" theology books...

J.I. Packer's Concise Theology is both simple as well as substantial.

John Frame's Salvation Belongs to the Lord is a brief but excellent and easy-to-read systematic theology. Speaking of Frame, there's a chapter (or two) in the recently published festschrift for Frame titled Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John Frame which is not only a good intro to Frame's own theological development but, what's more, also a good intro to Reformed theology in general.

Tom Schreiner has condensed his book on NT theology into Magnifying God in Christ.

Paul Helm has a three book series intro to Christianity: Beginnings; Callings; and Last Things.

Roger Nicole has a great little collection of essays introducing theology from a Reformed perspective called Our Sovereign Saviour. Another collection of his called Standing Forth is also wonderful.

Don Carson and John Woodbridge's Letters Along the Way is an encouraging read. It made me seriously consider Bible college or some sort of theological training. I'm in med school now, but, God willing, I'd still love to attend Bible college one day so that I can better know the Bible and serve Christ. It's available for free here.

Last but not least I have to plug Steve Hays' material. His essays "Why I Believe: A Positive Apologetic" and "Why I Believe: I'm Glad You Asked!" are good intros to apologetics and, in a roundabout way, theology too, since the two are of course intertwined. It's used by John Frame in Frame's apologetics classes at Reformed Theological Seminary. By the way, Hays and James Anderson compiled an e-book called Love the Lord with Heart and Mind which is a series of interviews with several leading evangelical scholars about various topics including apologetics and theology. Most of the scholars offer additional book recommendations too. You can download the e-book for free here.

Hope that helps.

Blessings in Christ!

patrick