Before you go on with your current reading…
If you have not read the entire Bible, we would encourage you to lay aside your current reading, and make the Bible your top priority. Read it cover to cover, the Old and New Testaments.
Once through the Bible, make sure you have read….
Before you take up reading books on theology, we would suggest that you read the confessions and catechisms of the reformed religion. These documents are thoroughly biblical, and are concise summaries of main theological teachings. Without a firm understanding and conviction of the basic reformed creeds and confessions, one can become confused or carried away by the many teachings that are “out there.”
Some Principles for Selecting Books
1. Before reading on a particular topic, ask your minister or an elder for his recommendations.
2. First read classical Reformed literature that has stood the test of time.
3. If the classical writers (theologians) are too difficult for you to read, find abridged editions of their works.
4. Make original source literature a higher priority over secondary sources. For example, rather than reading a modern writer’s views on what the Puritans thought about a particular topic, select writings by Puritan ministers.
5. Balance your reading. Consider cycling through the following list (i.e., reading one book from each category rather than reading several books consecutively from the same category). Here is a possible categorization to consider:
a. Theology including eschatology (e.g., The History of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards)
b. History/Biography (e.g., The Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff)
c. Devotional/classic & Christian Living (e.g., The Christian’s Daily Walk by Henry Scudder)
d. Commentary (e.g., Matthew Henry)
e. Ecclesiology (church) & civil government (e.g., Concerning Scandal by James Durham)
A Few Books to Consider
- Guthrie, W. Christian’s great interest
- Bunyan, J. The Pilgrim’s progress
- Howie, J. The Scots worthies
- Henry, M. Commentary on the whole Bible
A suggestion from a Puritan minister:
Secondly, get books into your houses. When you have not the spring near to you, then get water into your cisterns; so when you have not that wholesome preaching that you desire, good books are cisterns that hold the water of life in them to refresh you. When David’s natural heat was taken away, they covered him with warm clothes, 1 Kings 1. So when you find a chilliness upon your souls, and that your former heat begins to abate, ply yourselves with warm clothes, get those good books that may acquaint you with such truths as may warm and affect your hearts.
– Thomas Watson