Top One Hundred Must-Read Theology Books Titles 26–50

Update 4/23/2024: The rest of the list (titles 51–100) will be published in the forthcoming weeks. They will be linked to here. Bookmark this page and stay tuned. If you haven’t seen the first 25 titles, be sure to check them out.

 

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Avatar Josef Urban

Josef Urban

Raised in Toledo, Ohio, Josef has served in ministry as an inner-city evangelist, foreign missionary, pastor, teacher, conference speaker, editor, and author. He has a Master of Divinity, a Master of Theological Studies, and is doing doctoral studies in Reformed preaching. He currently serves as pastor of Grace Fellowship Church.

William Perkins Exposition of the Apostles Creed in Works vol. 5 (1).jpg resized

Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed

William Perkins

Every Christian should know the Creed by heart. Perkins expounds each article of it in his idiosyncratic style with theological elaboration and experiential application. He masterfully combines biblical fidelity, sensitivity to the history of interpretation, profundity of doctrine, and perspicuity of speech. Hence this “master” (as he was called) shows how theology ought to be done. An excellent example of how Reformation theology flowered in England in the Early Modern Era by drawing from the ancient wells of apostolic and primitive Christainity while promoting a pristined gospel on the principle of sola Scriptura.

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John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, Deluxe Edition

The Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan

Does this one really need a description or commendation? This classic has been one of the best-selling books of all time, in print since its publication in 1678. It’s an extended allegory, steeped in biblical allusions and Puritan theology, which depicts the journey of a Christian from “this world” to “that which is to come.” Bunyan, known as one of the most powerful preachers in his generation, wrote it in the Bedford jail, where he was imprisoned for non-conformity.

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Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God

The Existence and Attributes of God

Stephen Charnock

Charnock brings the reader face-to-face with God through the style of Puritan preaching with its heavy emphasis on doctrine. He originally preached the substance of this content to his congregation, which is simply astounding. If you haven’t read it, you will be floored and humbled under the weight of God’s majesty. This is the classical treatment of the attributes of God. To this day, it has no equal for its combination of classical theism with experientially-oriented theology.

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John Brown Questions & Answers on the Shorter Catechism

Questions & Answers on the Shorter Catechism

John Brown of Haddington

Joel Beeke says of this, “One of the most remarkable and unique doctrinal books ever written. Each question of the Westminster’s Shorter Catechism prompts numerous questions from the author—over 4,400 in all. The author provides remarkably succinct answers, each of which is supported by Scripture. We know of no catechetical work that packs so much Reformed doctrinal truth in such a short compass.” For a similar work on the Baptist Catechism (identical format, but less thorough), see the exposition of Benjamin Beddome.

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Thomas Watson, the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

Thomas Watson

Part of Watson’s trilogy on the Westminster Smaller Catechism (with a Body of Divinity and The Lord’s Prayer). This volume focuses on the law of God. Gives each commandment a concise yet thorough explanation. Terse, illustrious, eloquent, and witty to nth degree. Every Christian needs to read a classic exposition of the Ten Commandments at least once. You can’t go wrong with this veritable classic.

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Herman Witsius, The Lord's Prayer

Sacred Dissertations on The Lord’s Prayer

Herman Witsius

Every Christian should know the Prayer and pray it daily. There’s no better guide to it than Witsius (1636-1708), who was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He also served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life. This exposition is full of light and heat—some of the cream of the crop from the Dutch Further Reformation.

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Anthony Burgess, Christ's Prayer before His Passion

Christ's Prayer Before His Passion (2 vols.)

Anthony Burgess

In typical Puritan fashion, Burgess gave 145 sermons on the 26 verses of John 17, expounding such topics as the Godhead, the love of God, election, the deity of Christ, the Mediator as teacher and priest and king, union with Christ, the knowledge of God, eternal life, justification, sanctification, obedience, separation from the world, faith, prayer, perseverance, worship, Christian unity, gospel ministry, and the glory of heaven.

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John Owen, Communion With the Triune God

Communion with the Triune God

John Owen

I’ve heard some well-known theologians claim that Owen didn’t contribute anything original to theology, but I beg to differ. While this tome does not formulate anything new concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, it does take it in a new direction in terms of its experiential emphasis combined with its depth of theological insight. The Puritans were not merely speculative or theoretical theologians; they taught doctrine for the sake of its impact on the Christian life. This is one of the best and most glorious examples of how they articulated theology for the sake of piety.

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John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Overcoming Sin and Temptation

John Owen

Okay, maybe I’m streching the limits on including this title in my top 100 and counting it as only one book, but this trilogy of what was originally three books should be read together. This includes Owen’s Mortification of Sin in Believers, On Indwelling Sin (expounding Romans 7), and Of Temptation. The most theologically-dense, experientially-oriented treatises on practical sanctification.

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John Owen, The Death of Death

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

John Owen

The classical Reformed treatment of Limited Atonement. While polemically oriented against universalistic views of the atonement, Owen offers the definitive statement on how post-Reformation Reformed divines understood penal substitutionary atonement and its implications for the scope of the atonement. J. I. Packer’s introductory essay to this piece is also a classic, so make sure you don’t skip it!

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John Owen, The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

John Owen

Modern evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, have often accused Reformed believers of neglecting the Holy Spirit. Not only has Calvin been dubbed “the theologian of the Holy Spirit,” but Owen’s treatise on the Third Person of the Trinity is unequaled to this day for its depth of insight. Owen focuses much on the work of the Spirit, particularly the Spirit’s role as effecient cause of all of God’s saving and sanctifying activity and how the Spirit works in the lives of believers.

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John Owen, Commentary on Hebrews

Commentary on Hebrews (7 vols.)

John Owen

Every theologian should drink deeply from the wells of the Gospel of John as well as the epistles to the Romans, Ephesians, and Hebrews. I know of no commentary as thorough as Owen’s. He combines scientific exegesis, history of interpretation, theological interpretation, and rich application in verse after verse for literally thousands of pages. Choose key passages and read, I would say, at least 300–400 pages from this set. Then use it for ongoing reference indefinitely.

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John Flavel, The Fountain of Life Opened Up

John Flavel

The full title is The Fountain of Life: A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory. Flavel asserts that there is no doctrine more excellent in itself or more necessary to be preached and studied than the doctrine of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the very marrow and kernel of all the Scriptures, and the scope and center of all divine revelations. This treatise is found in volume one of Flavel’s works and takes a look at Christ in His offices and states.

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Thomas Goodwin, Exposition of Ephesians

Thomas Goodwin

In these incredible “sermons,” Goodwin glories in the gospel. It is likely he polished them up and re-wrote them prior to publishing, as they contain lots of “technical” language and concepts that he probably didn’t preach as such to his congregation. A high Christology is set forth in some of the most profound expositions of Ephesians you will ever read, all thoroughly suffused with a doxological spirit of worship.

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Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ

Thomas Goodwin

The intercession of Christ is one of the most rewarding themes that believers can study and meditate on, for it assures us of His ongoing provision and protection as our Savior. A rich, warm theology of the heavenly intercession of Christ on behalf of believers, the gist of this discourse is to assure poor souls that the pity and compassion of Christ’s heart remain the same in heaven as it was on earth.

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Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Thomas Brooks

A Puritan take on spiritual warfare, focusing not on invisible spiritual entities but the actual temptations whereby Satan and sin seduce believers to succumb to their influence. Brooks dilineates manifold “devices” of the devil and offers biblical remedies for each one. This little book not only promotes holiness of heart, but it exposes the thoughts and motives of the heart while offering hundreds of helps to holiness.

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Keach, Baptism in its Primitive Purity

Benjamin Keach

Of course, as a Baptist I ought to include a volume in promotion of what I consider to be the biblical administration of this sacrament as consisting in the immersion of believers. Keach was one of the most influential Particular Baptists of his generation. He was one of the original signatories of the 1689 London Baptist Confession and was a prolific preacher and author. He argues from the Regulative Principle of Worship that baptism should be administered just as Scripture commands, not as Scripture does not command.

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Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ

Nehemiah Coxe (& John Owen)

I don’t quite agree with everything Coxe says about the covenants, but this is an important primary source for 17th century Particular Baptist covenant theology and it is a fine introduction to the topic. Coxe was also a signer of the 1689 London Baptist Confession. The second part of this work is Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 8 since Coxe stated that he agreed with Owen’s teachings on covenant theology in his commentary on that chapter.

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Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Fourfold State

Thomas Boston

It was Augustine who first dilineated the four-fold state of man but Boston takes that conceptual outline and expounds on each state at length. Man is considered in the states of (1) innocence, (2) fallenness, (3) regeneration, and (4) glorification. A sound biblical anthropology is foundational to so many issues in our day, not least of all, the issues surrounding personhood, identity, and sexuality. 

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Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot

Thomas Boston

Luther said that what makes a theologian is meditation (on Scripture), prayer, and temptation. Boston explains how to bear up under temptation occasioned by trials and suffering. He argues that “A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them: and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense. For it is the light of the word alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently designs becoming the divine perfections.” A superb treatment of the sovereignty of God in our suffering.

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Jonathan Edwards, The Freedom of the Will

Jonathan Edwards

Eighteenth-century theologian Jonathan Edwards remains a significant influence on contemporary theology, and this book constitutes, arguably, his most important contribution to Christian thought. Edwards raises timeless questions about desire, choice, good, and evil, contrasting Calvinist and Arminian views of free will and addressing issues related to God’s foreknowledge, determinism, and moral agency.

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Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits

Jonathan Edwards

The greatest commandments are to love God and neighbor. What better topic for our study could there be? Edwards expounds on 1 Corinthians 13, showing how the love of God animates the true believer and bears the fruits of true godliness. This important work includes Edwards’ explication of heaven as a “world of love,” which is broadly recognized as probably the most beautiful piece he ever penned. 

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The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader

Jonathan Edwards

When I was in the process of being awakened to the Doctrines of Grace, Edwards’ sermon, “God Glorified in Man’s Dependence,” floored me and constrained me to confess the absolute the exhaustive sovereignty of God. Edwards’ theology is deep, but his sermons are some of the powerful I’ve read. This man is hailed as “America’s Theologian,” but I think his gifts as a preacher equal if not surpass his theological acumen. Check out the archive at Yale. If you’re working through this list, I suggest you read 10–15 of his top sermons.

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Ernest Kevan, The Grace of Law A Study of Puritan Theology

Ernest Kevan

This is the classic study on the Puritan theology of God’s law. No one went as deep into this topic as the Puritans. Kevan skillfully synthesizes and systematizes from a vast variety of Puritan writings, making for a study not just in historical theology, but in systematics and ethics as well.

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John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and Gospel

John Colquhoun

In my estimation, this is the best single book on the theology of God’s law that is in print. Colquhoun (1748–1827) treats the moral law, the covenant of works, the uses of the law, rules for interpreting the Ten Commandemnts, and the relationship between the law and the gospel, refuting antinomianism and legalism at the same time. This is Scottish “Marrow Men” theology at its best.

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Titles 26–100 in this list coming in the weeks ahead!

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases made through the links provided (and am grateful for your support!). You can also find these titles at other booksellers, like Christianbook.com and Reformation Heritage Books. A great source for used books is AbeBooks. Sometimes you can land a title there in good shape for a fraction of the price. I suggest you shop around and find the best deals.

Avatar Josef Urban

Josef Urban

Raised in Toledo, Ohio, Josef has served in ministry as an inner-city evangelist, foreign missionary, pastor, teacher, conference speaker, editor, and author. He has a Master of Divinity, a Master of Theological Studies, and is doing doctoral studies in Reformed preaching. He currently serves as pastor of Grace Fellowship Church.

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