Best 25 Systematic Theology Books You Should Read First

By | 2018-02-06T15:54:08+00:00 May 26th, 2017|0 Comments
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What is Systematic Theology? Simply put, systematic theology is the categorical study of what God says about everything.

“Even if you haven’t written a systematic theology—or even if you don’t consider yourself a theologian—you’re still doing systematic theology in some sense. Everyone has beliefs about who God is, who Jesus is, what salvation is, and how we should live as Christians. We’re all synthesizing those beliefs together.” – Wayne Grudem

We’ve compiled a list of the best systematic theology books that you should start with below. If we missed anything, let us know!







1.

Systematic Theology
by John Frame



From one of the most revered Reformed theologians of the past century, John M. Frame’s Systematic Theology is the culmination and creative genius of the author’s writings on, teachings about, and studies of the Word of God. A powerful opus that is simultaneously biblical, clear, readable, accessible, and relevant, it will enable you to see clearly how the Bible explains God’s great, grand plan for mankind.

A powerful opus that is simultaneously biblical, clear, readable, accessible, and relevant, it will enable you to see clearly how the Bible explains God’s great, grand plan for mankind


2.

Reformed Dogmatics
by Herman Bavinck

In partnership with the Dutch Reformed Translation Society, Baker Academic is proud to offer in English for the very first time all four volumes of Herman Bavinck’s complete Reformed Dogmatics.

This masterwork will appeal not only to scholars, students, pastors, and laity interested in Reformed theology but also to research and theological libraries.”For those struggling with the most critical issue facing theology today, namely, the question of the truth of the Christian faith, this volume is a godsend.



3.

Institutes of Elenctic Theology
by Francis Turretin

If ever a great theological work has been unjustly neglected it has been Francis Turretin’s masterful volumes on the whole of Christian doctrine. . . . I heartily . . . commend [them] to preachers, theological students and lay persons everywhere.” —James M. Boice

Powerful words about Institutes of Elenctic Theology by Francis Turretin, which contains three volumes in one set. Including indices, biographical sketches and Benedict Pictet’s funeral oration this set is a powerful, must-have addition by arguable the best expounder of the doctrine of the Reformed Church.



4.

Christian Theology
by Millard J. Erickson

Millard Erickson – one of the world’s leading evangelical scholars – offers a new edition of his bestselling textbook Christian Theology This important textbook offers a comprehensive introduction to theology that is biblical, modern, moderate, and respectful to various positions.

The third edition is updated and revised throughout and takes into account feedback from teachers and students with added material on forgiveness, justification and divine foreknowledge. It applies doctrine to Christian life and ministry.



5.

Systematic Theology
by Wayne Grudem

Systematic theology is the study of theology and doctrine organized around mostly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. Wayne Gruden presents an easy to read and understand introduction to systemic theology in his aptly named Systematic Theology.


Some things you will find in this book:  clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum; a contemporary approach; a friendly tone; nice application to life; resources for worship and bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.



6.

Systematic Theology
by Louis Berkhof

Systematic theology is the study of theology and doctrine organized around mostly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. In ‘Systematic Theology‘ you have Professor Louis Berkhof’s classic and important contributions to the field.

Professor Berkhof (who died in 1957, at the age of 83) was an outstanding American teacher and author of over 20 books. After two pastorates, he taught at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, for 38 years, devoting his talents and time to the training of men for the ministry.



7.

Biblical Doctrine
by John Macarthur and Richard Mayhue

Is doctrine just for theologians?  In Biblical Doctrine by John Macarthur and Richard Mayhue the authors tell us “No.”  Doctrine is important for every Christian because it shows us who God is and how we should live.

This overview of basic Biblical doctrine addresses topics like God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, salvation and many more. The book is comprehensive in scope yet written to be accessible to the average reader.  You’ll find non-technical vocabulary, minimal footnotes, and a helpful bibliography.



8.

Systematic Theology
by Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge’s greatest achievement as an author and theologian offers a deep exploration of theology, anthropology, salvation, and death. Systematic Theology was written while Hodge was as a professor at Princeton.  It is now the gold standard text for theological students.  The book includes a comprehensive index.



9.

The Christian Faith
by Michael Horton

Not since Louis Berkhof wrote his magnum opus in 1932 has there been such an important theological book as Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith.

Horton sees this volume as “doctrine that can be preached, experienced, and lived, as well as understood, clarified, and articulated.” Written for a diverse audience, it’s especially valuable for professors, pastors, students, and armchair theologians.



Some of the features of The Christian Faith are: a summary of biblical passages that inform a particular doctrine; surveys of past and current theologies; hermeneutical issues raised by postmodernity; charts, sidebars and questions for discussion; and a thorough bibliography, divided into different entry levels and topics.



10.

Evangelical Theology
by Michael F. Bird

Written from the point of view  of a biblical scholar, Evangelical Theology is a systematic theology that asserts  the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the gospel.

Author Michael F. Bird uses the gospel as a theological theme―an approach to Christian doctrine that begins with the gospel and sees each loci through the lens of the gospel.



His book presents a genuine evangelical theology, as opposed to a common systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian.

Additionally, the book features tables, sidebars, and excellent questions for discussion. It also contains several “Comic Belief” sections so that readers may enjoy their learning experience with a dollop of humor.



11.

Christian Theology
by Alister E. McGrath

Culling a decades worth of experience teaching Christian theology worldwide, Dr. Alister E. McGrath gives us the most user-friendly textbook on theology available today.

Christian Theology has been classroom tested worldwide and boosts three major sections:

  1. Landmarks: key movements, debates and writers of importance to classic and contemporary theology.
  2. Sources and Methods:  issues such as the nature of theological language, the nature of theological sources and the manner they’ve been used throughout Christian history.
  3. Christian Theology: a rich analysis of the main themes of Christian theology.


12.

Collected Writings of John Murray
in Systematic Theology

Lovers of the work of former Princeton Professor John Murray will appreciate Collected Writings of John Murray in Systematic Theology because it contains 36 chapters not previously published in any of his prolific volumes.

The arrangement of Murray’s Systematic Theology is seven sections which deal comprehensively with the themes of Man, Common Grace, Christ and Redemption (2 sections), Sanctification, Church and Sacraments, and the Last Things. As a special bonus, the publishers have added material from Murray’s lectures at the Ivy League school.





13.

Systematic Theology Study Bible

Written to help readers understand how Scripture forms the foundation for our understanding of God, humanity, sin, salvation, and eternity, this wonderfully rich study bible will help you better connect what you believe about God with his words.

A powerful panel of editors and 26 contributors teamed up to write ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible It features over 300 short in-text doctrinal summaries, 25 longer theological articles and introductions to each book of the Bible.



14.

Systematic Theology
by Norman L. Geisler

In 2002 Norman L. Geisler’s Systematic Theology received acclaimed praise when it was first published in four volumes. The book is organized into eight sections, including an introduction to theology. Geisler’s writing is revered as accessible, easy to understand by laypeople and foundationally sound.



15.

Great Doctrines of the Bible
by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

If you’ve ever felt the urgency of establishing the doctrinal ground on which you stand (think: when members of a cult show up at your door touting their beliefs) Great Doctrines of the Bible will help you build that foundation. Martyn-Lloyd Jones artfully and clearly explains the character and ministries of each person of the trinity.  He also illuminates the Bible’s teaching on the church, the afterlife, and end times. If lengthy academic works intimidate you, this simple and complete guide will help you learn and integrate Christian doctrine with your daily life.



16.

Institutes of the Christian Religion
by John Calvin

One of history’s foremost theologians – John Calvin – presents a highly influential work in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.  This classic showcases Calvin’s thoughts on God and humankind and the relationship between creator and created. His insights helped form the basic doctrines of today’s major protestant churches throughout the world. By the author’s name alone, it should be clear that Institutes of the Christian Religion is a must read for any student of Christian doctrine and theology.



17.

An Introduction to Systematic Theology
by Cornelius Van Til

IAn Introduction to Systematic Theology Cornelius Van Til explores the implications of Christian theology (particularly for philosophy) as he discusses epistemology (what distinguished belief from opinion), general and special revelation, and the insight and attributes of God. A teacher for more than forty-five years at Westminster Theological Seminary, Van Til is a must-read scholar. Additionally, this newly edited and typeset edition of an Introduction to Systematic Theology features an important introduction and explanatory notes by William Edgar.



18.

Systematic Theology
by Douglas F. Kelly

Returning to the words of saints and scholars, Douglas F. Kelly presents Systematic Theology by Douglas F. Kelly to help readers greater appreciate the beauty of God.  Said Kelly: “I have written this first volume, thinking of my heritage as both Reformed and Catholic; gladly appropriating crucial insights of the whole people of God over the last two thousand years – Eastern Orthodox, Western Catholic, and Reformation Protestant – as they sought to live out the foundational truths of the inspired Word of God.”



19.

Abstract of Systematic Theology
by James Boyce

Known as one of the brightest gems of Southern Baptist history, James Boyce commented on his book Abstract of Systematic Theology in this way: “This volume is published rather as a practical text book, for the study of the system of doctrine taught in the Word of God, than as a contribution to theological science.” With over forty insightful essays, Abstract of Systematic Theology has added to the science of theology and taught many new teaches and pastors since first published in 1887.



20.

A Short Systematic Theology
by Paul Zahl

Auser-friendly summary of the essentials of Christian belief. This short systematic theology is a refreshing alternative to works on Christian doctrine that are too large or demanding for personal or group study. Paul Zahl offers a concentrated summary of the whole Christian faith in three concise, biblically correct chapters at once serious and popular, scholarly and contemporary. Arranged around twenty-five theses that cover the core Christian beliefs, the book clearly explains the person and nature of Jesus Christ, the meaning of the atonement, and the life that results from Christian freedom. Encompassing a great wealth of knowledge in a user-friendly, easy-to-follow format, A Short Systematic Theology is one of the best resources available for church, group, and personal study.



21.

Everyone’s a Theologian
by R. C. Sproul

Are you a theologian?  If your answer is “No,” you may want to think again.  As Dr. R.C. Sproul argues, everyone is a theologian! In Sproul’s opinion, any time we think about a teaching of the Bible and strive to understand it, we are active theologians.



He explains this belief in great detail in his work Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Lacking minute points of doctrine and dryness, the author makes complex subjects easy to comprehend. He surveys the basic truths of the Christian faith and reminds us we are all theologians.



22.

Systematic Theology
by Anthony Thiselton

In this concise, one-volume systematic theology, celebrated scholar Anthony Thiselton comprehensively covers the spectrum of Christian doctrine with an eye to practical application for Christian discipleship.

Written with students and busy ministers in mind, this book is readable and accessible, comprising fifteen chapters of relatively equal length, with each chapter containing five evenly balanced subsections for teaching and learning convenience.

Rather than setting out an abstract system, Thiselton explores theology as a living, organic whole. The book thus includes biblical foundations, historical thought, contemporary writers, and practical implications. Expertly incorporating biblical exegesis, philosophy, conceptual grammar, and hermeneutics, this work is the most succinct multidisciplinary systematic theology available.



23.

A Puritan Theology
by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones

APuritan Theology: Doctrine for Life offers a groundbreaking treatment of the Puritans teaching on most major Reformed doctrines, particularly those doctrines in which the Puritans made significant contributions. Since the late 1950s, nearly 150 Puritan authors and 700 Puritan titles have been reprinted and catalogued by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their 2006 collection of mini-biographies and book reviews, titled, Meet the Puritans. However, no work until now has gathered together the threads of their teaching into a unified tapestry of systematic theology.

A Puritan Theology, by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, attempts to do that. The book addresses Puritan teachings on all six loci of theology, covering fifty areas of doctrine. The book explores Puritan teachings on biblical interpretation, God, predestination, providence, angels, sin, the covenants, the gospel, Christ, preparation for conversion, regeneration, coming to Christ, justification, adoption, church government, the Sabbath, preaching, baptism, heaven, hell, and many other topics. It ends with eight chapters that explore Puritan theology in practice.


Some chapters highlight the work of a specific theologian such as William Perkins, William Ames, John Owen, Stephen Charnock, or Thomas Goodwin on a specific topic. Other chapters survey various authors on a particular subject.

The goal of A Puritan Theology is to increase knowledge in the mind and godliness in the soul. It was written for theologians, historians, pastors, and educated laymen who seek to learn more about Puritan theology.



24.

What Christians Ought to Believe
by Michael F. Bird

Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith.

Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and memorable illustrations, What Christians Ought to Believe summarizes the basic tenets of the Christian faith using the Apostle’s Creed as its entryway. After first emphasizing the importance of creeds for the formation of the Christian faith, each chapter, following the Creed’s outline, introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and the Church. An appendix includes the Apostles’ Creed in the original Latin and Greek.



25.

God is Love
by Gerald Bray

Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith.

Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and memorable illustrations, What Christians Ought to Believe summarizes the basic tenets of the Christian faith using the Apostle’s Creed as its entryway. After first emphasizing the importance of creeds for the formation of the Christian faith, each chapter, following the Creed’s outline, introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and the Church. An appendix includes the Apostles’ Creed in the original Latin and Greek.



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