Books to Understand the Historic Reformed Faith

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ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
What books would your recommend to get a basic understanding of historic reformed belief and practice for someone who doesn't have that background?

I've believed the doctrines of grace for several years now and continue to move in the direction of the historic reformed faith (I think). The problem is, not having coming from a reformed background I don't always know what that is. Things like the regulative principle of worship, paedobaptism, sabbath keeping, confessionalism, covenant theology, etc. are all very foreign to me. Becoming a member of the PuritanBoard has helped to gain acquaintance with these types of things, but I was hoping to get a more systematic understanding. I've read a lot of books by John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Spoul which has helped me to understand reformed soteriology, but not so much about the other aspects (I know Sproul is a very reformed theologian but I've only read the Holiness of God and Chosen by God).

I do have Horton's God of Promise, Berkhof's Systematic Theology, Vol 10 of John Owen's works, a Puritan paperback by Thomas Watson on the Lord's Supper, Redemption Accomplished and Applied by Murray, but I think that is about all of the historic reformed books I have.

Some of the books I was thinking about were:

The Westminster Confession of Faith with Scripture verses
Ames' Marrow of Theology
A Body of Divinity and The Ten Commandments by Watson

I'm leaning toward older works, but not at all opposed to newer works.

Do you have different suggestions? Additional suggestions? I probably have about $150 to spend.

Thanks.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
What is Reformed Theology formerly Grace Unknown by R.C. Sproul is an excellent introduction.

The Five Points of Calvinism
, 2nd Ed. By: David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, S. Lance Quinn
P & R Publishing / 2004 / Paperback.

Since those deal mainly with TULIP soteriology, you might consider . . . one of the commentaries on the Westminster standards by Beattie, Hodge, Macpherson, Gerstner, or Shaw.

Sproul did his own take on Westminster in Truths We Confess, 3 Volume Boxed Set. ISBN: 1596380578.

Since I am a Ligon Duncan fan, I purchased (but have not yet read) The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, Volumes 1 & 2 eited By: J. Ligon Duncan Christian Focus Publications .

If you want to dig deep and want an older work, Economy of the Covenants Between God & Man: Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity By: Herman Witsius P & R Publishing / 1990 / Hardcover

There is a handy guide to Witsius: An Analysis of Herman Witsius's 'The Economy of the Covenants' By: D. Patrick Ramsey, Joel R. Beeke Christian Focus Publications / 2003.

You asked for "broad survey." Since I'm just a Baptist, these are about as basic as they get!
 
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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
What books would your recommend to get a broad survey of historic reformed belief and practice for someone who doesn't have that background?
You could do no better, from a historical perspective, than to read the four volume set of Richard Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca. 1520 to ca. 1725; or secondly, the four volume set of Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics.

DTK
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I agree, DTK, on both scores. However, when he said "broad survey" I interpreted that as "basic," and Muller is NOT that.
 

ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree, DTK, on both scores. However, when he said "broad survey" I interpreted that as "basic," and Muller is NOT that.
Hi Dennis,

Thanks for your recommendations. Yes I did mean a basic understanding of the historic reformed faith when I said "broad survey". I have clarified the post above.
 

Fly Caster

Puritan Board Sophomore
Calvin's Institutes is essential, and inexpensive. For a historical perspective, Cunningham is profitable and readable.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Re: the ones you mentioned, Joshua, Ames' work will repay you many-fold if you slowly and thoughtfully digest it. It should be noted that he was a congregationalist, and there are a few areas of his teaching which this influences.

The Westminster Confession is obviously a must, but remember both what it is and what it isn't. It isn't a systematic theology, or a private work, or something designed to address everything or even to be narrowly teach a specific position; it is a public document, a confession of faith, being intentionally open in some areas to different interpretations (e.g., the lapsarian question).

Dennis recommended an excellent work in The Economy of the Covenants, by Herman Witsius.

For other broad introductions, you might consider The Marrow of Modern Divinity, with the annotations by Thomas Boston (be sure it includes these). Calvin's Institutes may have gotten intimidatingly long by the 1559 edition, but it is still written so simply and clearly that it is an indispensable tool for teaching the basics of the Reformed faith.

Also, you may look into some of the (fairly) short Confessions written by some of the Reformers: namely, Bullinger's Second Helvetic Confession and Zanchi's Confession of the Christian Religion. These, again, are not systematic theologies, but Confessional documents; they are, however, both quite thorough and serve as wonderful introductions.

As Rev. King mentioned above, Muller is unbeatable for his survey of the Reformed teachings on Proleg, Scripture and Theology Proper, but these will probably come quite a bit later.
 

ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
Calvin's Institutes is essential, and inexpensive. For a historical perspective, Cunningham is profitable and readable.
Timothy,

When you say Cunningham, do you mean William Cunningham's Historical Theology?

Thanks.

-----Added 5/29/2009 at 03:22:03 EST-----

Re: the ones you mentioned, Joshua, Ames' work will repay you many-fold if you slowly and thoughtfully digest it. It should be noted that he was a congregationalist, and there are a few areas of his teaching which this influences.
Paul,

Thank you very much for your detailed response. Besides the obvious area of church government, could you be a little more specific about which areas of teaching are affected by Ames' congregationlist beliefs? Thanks for your help.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
DTK, not arguing it either. My concern was that a neophyte would quickly be overwhelmed by Muller. Although, with some of the other reading he has already done, maybe not!
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Practical Christian Living:

Joseph Pipa, The Lord’s Day
Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - Lord's Day (Paperback) by Joesph A. Pipa, Jr. 9781857922011


Westminster Standards
That's the PCA blue notebook that has loose leaf pages- Westminster Standards (Confessions, Larger and Shorter Catechism) with Scripture proofs at the bottom of each page plus it has an excellent concise Reformation historical summary.


CEP Bookstore - WESTMINSTER COF & CATECHISMS W/SCRIPTURE LOOSE L

The Blue notebook binder: (also designed to contain the PCA Book of Church Order, both the Westminster Standards and BCO are the constitution of the PCA):
CEP Bookstore - BOOK OF CHURCH ORDER BINDER


Westminster Standards Study Guide
GI Williamson
CEP Bookstore - WESTMINSTER CONFESSION FOR STUDY CLASSES



Reformed Theology Books

Calvin Knox Cummings, Confessing Christ (basic booklet)
Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - Confessing Christ (020060)

JI Packer, Concise Theology
Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs :: Systematic Theologies :: Doctrine/Theology :: Monergism Books :: Reformed Books and Resources for Christians

JI Packer, Knowing God
Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - Knowing God by J. I. Packer 9780830816507

RC Sproul, The Holiness of God
Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - The Holiness of God (Paperback)

RC Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?
Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - What is Reformed Theology? by R. C. Sproul 9780801065590


Covenant Theology

Barrett, Michael Love Divine and Unfailing: The Gospel According to Hosea (The Gospel According to the Old Testament)

Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - Love Divine and Unfailing: The Gospel According to Hosea (The Gospel According to the Old Testament) (Paperback) by Michael P. V. Barrett 9781596380752

-----Added 5/30/2009 at 05:15:44 EST-----

Eschatology:

Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=64358

Systematic reformed theology commentary:

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
[Abridged, softcover edition convenient for reading]

https://store.ligonier.org/product.asp?idDept=B&idCategory=TH&idProduct=INS02BP

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
[classic, 2 volume edition for study and reference]

https://store.ligonier.org/product.asp?idDept=B&idCategory=TH&idProduct=INS04BH
 
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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
first I would reccomend buying from reformation heritage books or Monergism.You have a systematic theology already and a good solid foundation to begin with. I think I would reccomend you read some good biographies of Reformed men to start with alont side with reading the two principal standard confessions (3 forms of unity and westminster standards). Read them several times through and carefully. I would reccomend including the confessions and catechisms in your devotional time but that's just me.
Here is my list by subject:

prayer
Biography 1
[URL=''http://www.heritagebooks.org/bookstore/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=8593"]2[/URL]
3
Solteriology and application of it
Confessions 1
2Author is member of board also.
Reformation Heritage Books
Another good systematic theology thats not horribly expensive
http://www.heritagebooks.org/bookstore/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=10169

That's a good start. I've read all of these and that should more than give you a good start. But if I had to pick 3 of them to buy. I would tell you to ditch Berkhof and buy that Concise Reformed Dogmatics, the Doctrinal standards book (which contains all the dutch reformed standards in English), and the Westminster confession book. Those alone will do the job. Though I must say I have not gotten R. Scott Clark's book though I am hoping by posting a link to it he might take pity and send a free signed copy to me! lol
 
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