Systematic Theologies: Recommended Reading

from Sep 08, 2009 Category: Articles

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Douglas Kelly — Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (2008)

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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.


Articles in this Recommended Reading series: Systematic Theologies, Doctrine of ScriptureDoctrine of God, Doctrine of the Works of God, Doctrine of Man and Sin.