Reformed Reading List

Revised December 2013

From time to time students ask what books must they have in their libraries before they leave seminary. This list contains my suggestions. This could be much longer, but it would be less useful. Since I teach historical theology, this list is weighted with those sorts of texts in no particular order.

  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vol. trans. F. L. Battles, ed. J. T. McNeil (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960). In certain respects the Allen and Beveridge editions are to be preferred, but, for now, the Battles edition is the accepted scholarly English translation. This is only a starting place for Calvin studies. On any particular issue it is best to read Calvin’s commentaries, the Institutes (or perhaps the appropriate treatise) and the sermons in that order. In the commentary one finds Calvin’s exegetical method, in the Institutes, his dogmatic conclusions and in the sermons, his homiletical application to his congregation.
  • Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011).
  • R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice.
  • John W. Beardslee, ed., Reformed Dogmatics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965). This text contains translations of Turretin, Wollebius and Voetius. Turretin is available elsewhere, but this is the only place to find Voetius in English and the best place to find Wollebius in English. If you don’t know who Wollebius and Voetius are, then you need to read this book.
  • Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963) One of the most important Reformed theologians of the covenant in the modern period, Kline is a genuine heir of the traditions of Cocceius and Vos . This book is the gateway to the rest of his writings. It is brilliant, stimulating and edifying.
  • H. Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Baker, repr. 1984). This is a sort of Reformed Sentences. Until it is replaced, it is the standard English-language collection of Reformed theological opinion from the classic Reformed orthodox theologians from the middle of the 16th century through the early 18th century. Be aware that the organization of this work reflects Heppe’s ecumenical and theological interests as much or more than it does the sources he quotes.
  • Michael S. Horton, Covenant and Eschatology (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002);
  • Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2005);
  • Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007);This series, to be completed with one more volume, is one of the most important written by a contemporary Reformed author in a very long time. Horton carefully and thoughtfully engages the academy and sets forth a thoughtful plan for the future of orthodox Reformed dogmatics.
  • —People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology (Louisville: WJKP, 2008). An award winning volume laying out the connections between covenant theology and the biblical and Reformed doctrine of the visible church as location of the administration of the covenant of grace.
  • God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006).A simple, clear and comprehensive introduction to a Reformed approach to the historia salutis (history of salvation). Used in several Christian colleges, this is a great textbook for Christian education courses.
  • J. G. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. (New York: MacMillan, 1923). When I read this book twenty years ago or so, it was as if Machen had written it yesterday. Nothing has changed fundamentally and Machen’s analysis is still dead-on. When Van Til urged “fortiter in re, suaviter in modo,” he was thinking of Machen. One hopes this work will whet your appetite for more.
  • R. Scott Clark, ed., Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry. (Phillipsburg: P&R 2007). It might seem a little self-serving to list this volume, and perhaps it is, but it’s one of a few volumes that directly addresses the historical, exegetical, theological, and pastoral aspects of the contemporary crisis in the doctrine of justification. This collection of essays by the faculty of Westminster Seminary California defends the biblical and confessional Reformed covenant theology.
  • D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).This book makes the case as never before that there are two types of American Christianity, the confessional and non-confessional. Among the non-confessional there are varieties, including evangelical and liberal, but non-confessional Christianity belongs to a different genus than does confessional Christianity.
  • Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, ed. Thomas Boston (Alberta, Canada: Still Waters, repr. 1991).That Thomas Boston thought this book was important enough to edit and reprint in his day, is a strong endorsement. The fact that this book is still controversial says volumes about the book and the state of Reformed theology today. If you are not sure what the difference is between Law and Gospel, this book will help. This is an outstanding modern edition. Highly recommended.
  • Martin Luther, Martin Luther on the Bondage of the Will. trans., O. R. Johnston, ed. J. I. Packer (Cambridge: J. Clarke, repr. 1973). Some today might be surprised to see Luther’s name on this list, but earlier Reformed theologians who read Luther would have been surprised to see him omitted. We have our differences with Luther, but on the doctrines of predestination and justification, he has always been one of our theologians.
  • Caspar Olevianus, A Firm Foundation, trans. Lyle D. Bierma, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995). An edifying introduction to classic Reformed covenant/federal theology written by one of the chief authors of the Heidelberg Catechism. Written in catechetical format, the translator and editor has correlated it to the Heidelberg Catechism. This is an excellent resource for those catechetical sermons or membership classes.
  • An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, trans. Lyle Bierma (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010). The second volume in the Classic Reformed Theology series, this is a good introduction to the Reformed doctrines of covenant and kingdom and to the catholic faith summarized in the creed.
  • John Murray. Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955). An excellent introduction to the Reformed ordo salutis (order of the application of redemption by the Holy Spirit). At his best, Murray was a great transmitter of historic Reformed theology.
  • The Imputation of Adam’s Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959). A brilliant exegetical defense of the doctrine of imputation and Reformed federalism.
  • Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology 3 vols. trans. G. M. Giger, ed. J. T. Dennison (Phlipsburg: P&R, 1992-1997). One of the greatest of the 17th-century Reformed dogmatic works, it has retained its influence through its use at old Princeton. These volumes put in your hands an excellent representative of high Reformed orthodoxy and polemical theology.
  • Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Philipsburg: P&R, 1955). The best and clearest comprehensive summary of Van Til’s approach to apologetics and theology.
  • — The New Modernism (Philipsburg: P&R, 1946).There is hardly a more politically incorrect book available today, but it is a must read for any serious student of Barth. One might quibble with Van Til’s rhetorical strategy, but his analysis of what Barth was actually saying still holds.
  • Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, trans. James Clark (Lewes: Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1992).This is Beza as he actually was. Needless to say, this is not the Beza of most of the secondary texts.
  • Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, 2 vol. (Philipsburg: P&R, repr., 1990).Probably the single finest statement of Reformed federal/covenant theology.
  • Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. trans. G. Willard (Philipsburg: P&R, repr. 1985).There are many commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism, but this one was written by the man responsible writing most of the Catechism. Ursinus was appointed to defend the catechism which he did through these and other lectures.
  • Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 2nd editon 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003) This is the landmark introduction to classic Reformed theology. Anyone who wants to study Reformed theology seriously must read this work. It is the definitive introduction to Reformed orthodoxy in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985). Not only is the only reference of its kind, reading it is a theological education itself.
  • Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996). There is no question whether you should own and read Berkhof cover to cover. The only question is: which edition? The 1996 edn contains his long-neglected Introduction to Systematic Theology. This introduction makes this edn superior to all editions published without it.
  • Carl R. Trueman and R. Scott Clark, Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1999). Without appearing to be self-serving, this is the only comprehensive collection of survey articles intended to introduce readers to the orthodox Protestant theologians and theologies in the Reformed and Lutheran traditions.
  • Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillenialism. Expanded edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013). This is a terrific one-stop introduction to Amillennialism.
  • B. B. Warfield, Studies in Theology (New York: Oxford University Press). The inclusion of this title is arbitrary. Anything written by Warfield is worth having and reading, carefully.
  • Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (New York: HBJ, 1949). So far as I know, Sayers was not Reformed, but she was a master of the English language. She was also a very thoughtful lay-theologian. The dogma is the drama.
  • A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, repr. 1991).Modestly titled but exceptionally useful orientation to the major issues and doctrines of Reformed theology.
  • B. Hagglund, History of Theology. trans. Gene L. Lund 3rd edn (St Louis: Concordia, 1968). A remarkably balanced and thoughtful yet accessible introduction to the history of theology.
  • Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology 3 vol. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, repr. 1982). The synopsis of the old Princeton theology. Don’t let the occasional Latin passages put you off this work.
  • Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948). The foremost practitioner of Reformed Biblical Theology of the late 19th and early 20th century. Vos took to hand a discipline dominated by pietism and liberals and made it habitable for confessional Reformed theology, without ever using it as a tool against Systematic Theology or the Reformed confessions.
  • Grace and Glory (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1994).
  • The Kingdom of God and the Church (New York, 1903).
  • The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Philipsburg: P&R, 1956).
  • Pauline Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1930).
  • Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (Philipsburg: P&R, 1980).
  • The Self-Disclosure of Jesus (Grand Rapids, 1954).
  • H. Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics.
  • Peter Dathenus, The Pearl of Christian Comfort, trans. A. Blok (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997). An excellent example of the confessional Reformed piety of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
  • Franciscus Junius, On True Theology, trans. David C. Noe (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014).
  • Anonymous, To Diognetus in Michael. W. Holmes, ed. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapidsl Baker Academic, 2007)