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!
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.”
Many Christians evaluate their lives and ask the same questions: Am I doing enough? Have I shown enough discipline, enough dedication, or enough effort? Would praying and reading my Bible more help me overcome . . . remove . . . have . . .? You may feel that you put so much effort into improving your Christian life with no apparent fruit. Sins you thought would have been easier to overcome are still plaguing your daily life.
You are not alone, and you are not crazy! Many Christians today live on this sort of performance-based treadmill, running fast and getting nowhere. Trying harder and doing more haven’t produced assurance or victory over sin. You’re exhausted. You feel empty and fake inside. You feel guilty for merely wanting to just coast, to give in, to stop trying. The foundation of Christianity is faith. And the foundation of the Christian faith, we will argue in this primer, is rest.
In this book, Jon Moffitt, Jimmy Buehler, and Justin Perdue explain how weary pilgrims can find rest in Jesus Christ.
Despite all the promises of scriptures, most Christians today are often left wondering if God is genuinely pleased with them. Their path feels like it leads from duty to acceptance. They strive every day to become the type of person that God would be pleased to save and call His own. Their trek is all uphill and filled with perpetual uncertainty. But this is not the flow of the Gospel — at least the one uncovered and rediscovered in the Reformation. The one defended by the Apostles. That Gospel always flows away from moralism. Life is lived from acceptance outward. We don’t do what we do in order to earn God’s love, but because we already have it. However, making that turn and heading back the opposite direction is no easy feat. Acceptance is a strange horizon when we’ve been conditioned to pursue assurance rather than rest in it. A Pilgrim’s Guide to Rest is an explanation of what that turn looks like and the freedom it can yield to the weary pilgrim.
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.
“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.
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