Book Recommendations

Reformed / Confessional Reading Starter Kit

“What do you recommend I start reading” is a question we receive often. It’s understandable. Many have spent years accruing resources to benefit their Christian life, only to one day look up and realize their bookshelves are stocked primarily with pietistic legalism or weak evangelical self-help books. The list below is designed to help you start (or grow) your reformed and confessional reading list.

A quick note: We’ve been trained to look for the timeless truth or easy principles we can apply. Thus, many of our modern evangelical books jump straight to an application. They focus primarily on what you need to do. The resources below take a different path. The focus is primarily on what has been done in God’s divine plan of redemption. We are definitely a part of that story, albeit less than we might like. But reformed confessional authors know that we need to first understand what’s been done before we focus on what we need to do. What we’re trying to say is, “give it time.” Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to apply what you’re reading immediately. Trust the process. Enjoy!

Stage 1

The books of stage one are written for those who are beginning the journey into a confessional world. If your theological vocabulary is limited, don’t worry these were written with you in mind. Some of the concepts are challenging and some of the language will stretch you, but these are more or less focused on the “big picture.”

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to see the glory of God’s love (Milton Vincent) 

Saved or lost, the Good News is needed every day. The Gospel Primer is a great read to remind us to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. It will strengthen your faith and define what you believe and why

A Primer On Pietism (Ryan Haskins, Jon Moffitt, Jeremy Litts, Byron Yawn)

The most common question we get asked concerns our use of the terms “pietism” and “confessionalism.” These two descriptors are in constant rotation among the boys of Theocast. This brief little overview is intended to help catch you up on our conversation. It’s quite possible that we’ll simply put words to what you are already thinking.

Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored (Michael Brown and Zach Keele)

Looking for a book that will describe the basics of covenant theology? If so, Sacred Bond is your book. Not only will you receive a clear understanding of Covenant Theology, but you will also come away better understanding the redemptive storyline of the Bible. No prerequisite knowledge is required. Michael Brown starts with the basics and builds from there.

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture (David VanDrunen)

“Be in the world but not of the world.” It’s a common phrase thrown around the church. What does it mean? Many books have been written on the subject of Christ and Culture. But many of them are simply lists of do’s and don’ts. Rules that a Christian must follow to protect his or her witness in the world. Living in God’s two kingdoms tackles the question of how a Christian should live a little differently. It’s a great book on how not to over-Christianize our normal affairs. It takes the complicated “Christian” system and un-complicates it.

Redemption Accomplished and Applied (John Murray)

This is by far the most advanced of the starter kit. However, it’s worth all the effort. Murray explores the biblical passages dealing with the nature of our atonement. He goes on to identify the distinct steps in the Bible’s presentation of how the redemption accomplished by Christ is applied progressively to the life of the redeemed, including the role of faith and repentance. It’s a must read

Stage 2

This next list of recommendations is designed for those who are looking to wade a little deeper into the details. While all the resources focus on the need for faith and the Gospel, these will begin to use more technical language to describe the why and how of the Christian faith. If you’re looking to pushing your reading to the next level, these books are a great place to start.

The Plan of Salvation (B.B. Warfield)

Originally delivered as a series of lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary, “The Plan of Salvation” is a masterful articulation of various views of salvation among Christian believers. Warfield, in his own thoughtful way, analyzes and interacts with each viewpoint and arrives at the conclusion that salvation is either from God or from ourselves. This thought-provoking book will be sure to foster a better understanding of God and his role in salvation, convincing you that a renewed heart is truly of the Lord.

Everlasting Righteousness (Horatius Bonar) 

The Everlasting Righteousness may be the best book on the doctrine of justification by faith alone ever written. One reader aptly said, “Bonar reflects on the substitutionary atonement of Christ in a way that puts to shame the many “devotional” writers found today. The theology is precise and life-changing, and beautiful as well. There is no sophistry here though. Just a man who loved true doctrine and had a gift with expression.”

What Is Faith? (J. Gresham Machen)

Machen addresses one of the most fundamental questions about the Christian gospel. In his graceful style, he expounds the biblical teaching on faith, combining the solid content of the truth with the personal challenge of the gospel. The result is a book of outstanding and permanent value.

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Mark Noll)

If we don’t understand and learn from history we’ll be doomed to repeat it. Mark Noll skillfully and thoroughly recounts what has happened in the history of the American church. If you’ve ever wondered why the church has certain practices and traditions today, this book will offer some answers.

Recovering the Reformed Confession (R Scott Clark)

Much of what passes as Reformed among our churches is not. As a class of churches that profess allegiance to Reformed theology, practice, and piety, we have drifted from our moorings. This book is written to facilitate change, specifically reformation according to God’s Word as summarized in the Reformed confessions.

Stage 3

If you’re ready to jump into the deep end of the pool then the following books are a great place to start. You might come away with a headache after reading these. But it will be totally worth it. Take it slow and be willing to reread if necessary. Trust us, these books will be resources for life.

Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ (Michael Horton)

In Covenant and Salvation, Michael Horton surveys law and gospel, union with Christ, and justification and theosis conversing with both classical and contemporary viewpoints.

Faith and Sanctification (G. C. Berkouwer) 

We all understand that faith is necessary for our justification. But rarely do we consider how faith is just as necessary in our sanctification. Berkouwer excellently demonstrates our need for faith every day of our life as we’re being sanctified in Christ.

Marrow of Modern Divinity (Edward Fisher) 

The Marrow is the historically important book that caused the Marrow Controversy in the Church of Scotland. The Marrow is written as a dialogue among a pastor, a legalist, an antinomian, and a neophyte Christian. It advocates a free grace gospel against both a works-righteousness gospel and a cheap-grace gospel. Why should a Christian read this today? Because you’ll be surprised how closely the controversy in the church then mirrors much of our controversy today.

Biblical Theology (Geerhardus Vos)

The aim of this book is no less than to provide an account of the unfolding of the mind of God in history, through the successive agents of his special revelation. Vos handles this under three main divisions: the Mosaic epoch of revelation, the prophetic epoch of revelation, and the New Testament. Such a historical approach is not meant to supplant the work of the systematic theologian; nevertheless, the Christian gospel is inextricably bound up with history, and the biblical theologian thus seeks to highlight the uniqueness of each biblical document in that succession. The rich variety of Scripture is discovered anew as the progressive development of biblical themes is explicated.

Bondage of the Will (Martin Luther)

This is a must-read. It’s a classic piece of Biblical literature composed by one of the prominent founders of the Reformation that reveals truth in the word of God about man’s nature and sin-bound will, hopeless without the divine intervention of God’s hand to work and to will in those chosen for salvation.

Looking for something else to read?
We recommend picking from the list below.

THEOLOGY

CONFESSIONAL THEOLOGY

LAW & GOSPEL

JUSTIFICATION

SANCTIFICATION

EVANGELICAL HISTORY

CULTURE

DEPRESSION

COVENANT THEOLOGY

APOLOGETICS/EVANGELISM

LORDSHIP

THE HOLY SPIRIT

CALVINISM

PREACHING

PARENTING

BIBLICAL THEOLOGY

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

BOOKS BY THE BOYS

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