I am blessed to be married to a seminary and post-graduate student of the Bible. That means that I have a lot of resources available to me that I read and draw from daily. That also means that I have a wonderful proofreader when it comes to more theological posts (Thanks, Babe!).
That being said, I wanted to pull together my top resources for you that I use on a regular basis so that you can also study better for yourself and hopefully come to understand theology better from authors that are much more skilled than I am.
I’ve tried to think of the easiest way to share all this with you and I have only come up with a long list of books and links to those books so that you can purchase them for yourself. Hopefully the list will not get too long and you’ll be able to find what you need. I have divided the list into different categories to help you out.
Before we go further, I have to say that I have not necessarily read all these books in their entirety. But, I have in part and I think they are worth recommending to you for study. As always, be vigilant in your own study and read them for yourself, don’t take my word for it.
This will be a general list of resources for studying theology and the Bible in general. I am also writing posts for resources for each book of the Bible starting with Psalms here.
This list will only contain the books that I generally use every day to look up things and to read about theology. I read MANY smaller books that are about specific topics that would make this list too long to read! You can find my reviews of specific books (even a few about motherhood) here. I will be adding to this category of book reviews as I read more books.
All of these resources will be linked on Amazon with affiliate links, which means that I will get a kickback for anything you purchase through my links at no extra cost to you (this is how I keep this blog going!). You can read my full disclosure here.
3 Tips for Building Your Theology Library
Before I jump into the specific books, I just wanted to give you three quick tips when buying books for your own theology library:
1. Buy one book at a time. Make sure to check your budget and then only purchase one book at a time. (Maybe once a month or once a year etc.). Find an author you like and stick with them for a while before purchasing something new.
2. Consider different formats. Do you like listening to books instead of sitting down to read? What about reading on your Kindle or laptop? Think about how you are most likely to read the books before purchasing them in one form or the other.
3. Buy used books. Building a library can be expensive, so wherever you can save on books is worth it! Check out your local thrift stores or secondhand books stores for theology books. There are also websites dedicated to selling used books online, that would be a good option if you’re looking for something specific.
Okay, here are the books in my library that I use and recommend to you, enjoy!
The first resource you MUST have is a Bible. Really, you could get by with only studying the Bible. But I think that God has made so many other resources available to us so that we can learn even more about Him, so I will continue my list.
Let me just say, though, that the translation of your Bible does matter. There are several Bible translations out there that are man-made and do not adhere to the actual text of the Bible. I would encourage you to stick to the NASB or the ESV.
The MacArthur study Bible is a wonderful resource to have on hand and to use. It has commentary notes on each verse and other pages that explain more about the Bible (book overviews, religious customs, historical notes, etc.). I’ve used this Bible for a long time and often look up the passages I am studying in here to read the notes.
Having a few devotionals books on hand is helpful for times when you don’t have a lot of time to study something deep or to read for an hour. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed.
Anything written by Spurgeon is worth reading. This devotional has daily thoughts, one for the morning and one for the evening, written by Spurgeon, so it’s worth reading! They are super quick, but super powerful and convicting. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve posted several of these devotionals because they are just so good!
Streams in the Desert is a devotional that is comprised of quotes and sayings from puritans, scholars, and preachers. It is an encouraging and quick read. Read it carefully as it is older and some of the quotes are not worth repeating, though most are.
I talk about this little book all the time! (Even on my podcast here.) But it’s worth it. The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent is an excellent book to read as a devotional each day, or just when you have a spare minute in your day. Each paragraph has a lesson from the gospel, how it changes us, what it’s done for us, and further effects of the gospel in the world. It quickly humbles you and reminds you of God’s gospel work in your life, helping you to live in light of it each day. Bible verses are included in the footnotes of this book for easy reading.
The Valley of Vision is a collection of puritan prayers. They are very well written and encouraging. I have used this book as a devotional book and read it in the pockets of my day. It’s an excellent resource to have in your library. The prayers are packed with theology and help to express that theology back to God.
Just want to say here that the books I’ve shared above are theological in their own way. They do point you to the Bible and to God. Books that I categorize as “theology” sweep broadly over theology, what it is, specific topics, and traditions and terms that we need to know.
This book by Joel Beeke is an excellent resource to have on your shelf. It’s easy to read through and he explains tough topics in theology well. It’s also important to have some sort of big theology book like this one on hand so that you can look up something quickly while you are studying elsewhere in your library.
Concise Theology by Packer is another great resource. He keeps the descriptions of theological terms and traditions short and sweet. It’s very easy to write down and stick in your Bible or hang somewhere you can see it when you are learning a new term or theological thought. I have found this book especially encouraging when I am on the go and only have a few minutes to read something other than my Bible.
The book that has really sparked my interest in theology is Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck. He is a very clear communicator and lays out theology in an easy to understand way. He also writes very logically about wrong theology and church traditions that we need to reject. This is another big theology book in which you can look up different terms or topics that you are currently studying to read Bavinck’s take on those topics. I currently read the abridged version of his dogmatics which is only one volume. However, the unabridged version would be good as well and is worth considering for your own library.
R. C. Sproul wrote a series of 39 books that answer crucial questions about theology and the Christian faith. Questions like, “What is Reformed Theology?” or “Can We Really Know God?” These short books have been extremely helpful for beginning to study theology on my own and would be a great introduction to studying theology for you as well.
Commentaries are just that, an author or theologian’s commentary on the Scripture. Here are a few that I frequently read and would highly recommend. While buying a whole set of commentaries is an excellent idea, do not feel like you have to do this in order to study more of the Bible on your own. You can build your commentary library slowly by purchasing one commentary on one book of the Bible at a time.
John MacArthur’s commentaries on the New Testament are what brought me to know and love the Bible early in my Christian life. His comments on the Scripture are very clear and helpful. You can tell that he loves the Lord in the way he writes his commentaries.
You really can’t go wrong with John Calvin, in my humble opinion. He wrote commentaries on almost the entire Bible and they are definitely worth having in your library. I appreciate his style of writing and that he presents his thoughts and comments in an easily digestible way. Though some of the old-English he uses can feel heady, after reading him a while, it will not hold you back.
Though this list could never be exhaustive, I hope it helps you get started in building your own theology library. Let me know what book you would add in the comments!