Sep 27, 2010

Recommended Reading: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

5 Min Read

In the Upper Room, Jesus told His disciples that it would be to their advantage that He go away, “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you” (Jn. 16:7). In systematic theology, the study of the Holy Spirit is termed “pneumatology.” There are a number of helpful books available on the subject. Among those I have found useful are the following:


1. [The Mystery of the Holy Spirit]( “The Mystery of the Holy Spirit”) by R.C. Sproul

The best all around introduction to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is R.C. Sproul’s The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. In this book he touches on all the most important points in a readable and easy-to-grasp manner.**

More Advanced

1. [The Holy Spirit]( “The Holy Spirit”) by Sinclair Ferguson

If you can only afford one book on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Ferguson’s is the book to get. Ferguson, as always, combines theological depth with devotional warmth. A truly great book.

2. [The Holy Spirit]( “The Holy Spirit”) by John Owen

In my opinion, John Owen is the greatest of the Puritan theologians. If you are able and willing, get his complete works (16 volumes). His work on the Holy Spirit is found in volume 3 of the complete works. If that is a bit much, then at least take the time to read this paperback edition of his work on the Holy Spirit.

3. [On the Holy Spirit]( “On the Holy Spirit”) by Basil the Great

Basil the Great was one of the three Cappadocian fathers who fought for Nicene orthodoxy. His work on the Holy Spirit is a strong defense of the deity of the Spirit.

4. [“The Eschatological Aspects of the Pauline Concept of the Spirit”]( “The Eschatological Aspects of the Pauline Concept of the Spirit”) by Geerhardus Vos

All who are interested in the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit should read this essay by Vos. It is found in a collection of his shorter writings entitled Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, edited by Richard Gaffin. All of the essays and articles in the volume are worth reading, so the book is worth the purchase.

For Seminarians

1. [The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit]( “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit”) by George Smeaton

Smeaton was an outstanding nineteenth-century Scottish theologian. This work on the Holy Spirit, while not the easiest read, is very helpful. He handles his subject under three divisions- he treats first the testimony to the Holy Spirit, as it is progressively revealed in Scripture. Secondly, he gives detailed attention to six subjects: the personality and procession of the Holy Spirit; the work of the Spirit in the anointing of Christ; the work of the Spirit in connection with revelation and inspiration; the Spirit’s regenerating work on the individual; on the Spirit of holiness; and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Finally, there is an historical survey of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit from the Apostolic age.

2. [The Work of the Holy Spirit]( “The Work of the Holy Spirit”) by Abraham Kuyper

This work by the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper is thorough, to say the least. In some 600+ pages, he discusses everything from the Spirit’s work in creation, incarnation, and inspiration, to His work in the believer’s regeneration and sanctification [Note: The AMG reprint has a new title, but the contents are the same].

3. [He Who Gives Life]( “He Who Gives Life”) by Graham Cole

This recent addition to the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series was written by a conservative Anglican theologian. He approaches the subject from an exegetical and redemptive historical perspective. A very helpful work on this topic.

4. [The Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy]( “The Filioque”) by A. Edward Siecienski

The filioque clause of the Nicene Creed has been a contributing cause to the long-standing division between the Eastern and Western churches. This new book helpfully traces the development and significance of this controversy.

This article is part of the Recommended Reading collection.