After speaking with one of my college students who had taken the book list that I made for the Extra Credit assignment and used it as a “wish list” of sorts for this past Christmas, I decided to make a much broader list of theological works, not just devotional, that would serve as a good starting point for building a sound, theological library. This list is meant to be at your disposal in a few different ways.
First, this list should represent some of the older and more contemporary works in each category that are seen as authoritative, seminal, and/or on the cutting edge.
Second, many of the works submitted under each heading are intended to serve as some of the more accessible entry points for each doctrine, thereby taking you into the wider world of each respective field of study. Therefore, there are varying academic levels represented here that range from the “very easy” to those that will require multiple readings in order to fully grasp their content. The list is meant to be brief, but thorough. I built it, however, with both the laymen and the beginning scholar in mind.
Third, the list is meant to expose you to mainly conservative, evangelical scholarship and writings with a few exceptions. For instance you will stumble upon Congar’s work on the Holy Spirit who is a Roman Catholic. These types of contributors were added because their work has been recognized as authoritative and influential regardless of the fact that conservative, evangelicals may or may not agree with them on every point. Nevertheless, you will see only a few such titles on this list. No matter what you read, though, you should do so with a discerning eye.
Fourth, I constructed the list to be both pastoral and scholarly. Therefore, I’ve tried to add works by pastors where possible who have done a respectable job of incorporating sound scholarship into their pastoral calling. Likewise, I’ve also opted for scholars who have been very pastoral in their writings and research.
Fifth, this list is mainly intended to be an introduction for beginning one’s theological library, but even more so than that, it has been developed in order to serve as a resource for those who are less familiar with the catalogue of books out there on any given field because their lives are more dominated by ministerial demands or who are just getting started in their theological education. I believe that sometimes bad books are often read simply because the reader is not aware of what is viewed as the “standards” and what are seen as “off-limits”.
Ultimately, this list is a reflection of my own theological system, so there’s room for tweaking. For my seminary brothers, I’m sure you will be disappointed either by the inclusion of some works and/or the exclusion of others. Please keep in mind that this list is not meant to be exhaustive. In addition, I have included several works for no other reason than that I want to encourage others to read them due to their neglect and being passed over in view of more academic alternatives such as the works of Francis Schaeffer, Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man, and Sire’s books in the “Apologetics” section. If you find this list lacking, then may I persuade you to go and make your own? Nonetheless, this bibliography was not intended for the seasoned seminary student. As I’ve noted before, it is for the laymen and the beginning theological student. I pray that you find this as a helpful resource for your theological studies.
The following document is the Extra Credit assignment handout that I created for my college students. This is the exact document including the assignment instructions as well as the list of books. I’ve also set this list at your disposal since it includes some entries not referenced on the above document. This was an assignment intended for two purposes: (1) quality reading on Christian Spirituality; (2) Exposing students to sound, weighty theological works and to avoid the modern day fluff of the “Christian Living” section of the typical Christian bookstore.