Systematic Theologies: Recommended Reading
Recently, I completed a series of posts listing what I believe to be the most helpful commentaries on each book of the Bible. What I would like to do now is something similar with other biblical, theological, and historical topics. This will be, Lord willing, the first in a series of posts listing recommended books on a variety of topics. The first series of posts will cover the various topics under the heading of systematic theology.
For several reasons, I do not plan to follow the “Top 5” format of my series on biblical commentaries. In the first place, there are exponentially more books on each topic that I plan to cover now. Unless I’ve read a substantial number of the available books on a particular topic, I cannot say: “Here are the top 5.” Second, I do not necessarily want to limit myself to five books on a topic. There may be more than five. There may be less.
So, what are some of the more helpful Reformed systematic theologies?
John Calvin — Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559)
No comment or justification is really necessary here. If you are interested in theology, particularly Reformed theology, Calvin’s Institutes is a must-read. This work is one of the classic works of Christian theology.
Francis Turretin — Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 vols. (1679-85)
R.C. Sproul has said that Turretin is his favorite theologian. His Institutes of Elenctic Theology has only very recently been published in English, and it is a real treasure.
Charles Hodge — Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (1871-73)
Because of the length of his tenure and the number of ministers he taught, Hodge’s Systematic Theology represents one of the most influential theological systems ever taught on American soil.
A.A. Hodge — Outlines of Theology (1860)
This work by Charles Hodge’s son is not a systematic theology in the same sense as his father’s work, but it is a very helpful overview of Reformed theology in a detailed question and answer format.
Herman Bavinck — Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols. (1906-11)
The 2008 publication of the fourth volume of the English translation of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics was a blessing for systematic theologians. Bavinck’s work has been among the most influential theological works of the last century, but because it was available only in Dutch, it reached a limited audience.
Louis Berkhof — Systematic Theology (1938)
Berkhof’s Systematic Theology has been a standard textbook in Reformed seminaries for over 60 years. The new combined edition contains his Systematic Theology text as well as his 1932 book, Introduction to Systematic Theology.
Douglas Kelly — Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (2008)
Michael Horton — The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (2010)
There are also two very helpful 19th century Reformed Southern Baptist theology texts that I would like to mention.
J.L. Dagg — Manual of Theology (1859)
James P. Boyce — Abstract of Systematic Theology (1887)
Many readers of this blog will be aware of books that I may not have seen or read. Feel free to suggest such titles.