Friday, January 31, 2014

4 Books for Introductory Studies in Theology

I have spent the last couple days talking about the importance of theology. First by a simply proposition and then second by way of the Jenga analogy. I hope that someone out there wants to study and know God a little more because of those articles. Remember that we cannot claim to know God without knowing about God, just like we cannot really claim to know a person without knowing quite a bit about them. So here are a few resources to get you started.

1. A Bible
Yes, I know, pretty cliche huh? While we may know some things about God apart from the Bible, by observing creation, we cannot really know God without reading the Bible. Every other resource I mention on this list is merely a tool to help you understand what the Bible has to say about God. The Bible is God's self revelation, it is where he chooses to reveal certain aspects of his character. He is beyond us and we can never know everything there is to know about him, but we can get a good start. The Bible is inerrant, and it is infallible. You may disagree with some things said in some of the other books on this list (I know I do), but the Bible does not give you that option. I would advise a study Bible, like the ESV Study Bible, which gives helpful background information at the beginning of each book which can help bridge the cultural and historical gap.

2. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Packer in this book postulates that we were made to know God. This book is not a theological textbook, but is instead a series of 22 short chapters on varied theological points. Each one is less then ten pages long, and easily read in one sitting.

3. Truth for All Mankind by John Calvin
The subtitles of this book, "A Brief Outline of The Christian Faith", really explains what this book about. This very short book is a great summary of the doctrines of the Christian faith. In some ways it is a very short version of John Calvin's magnum opus The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin has a way of opening your eyes to the grandeur of God.

4. Dug Down Deep by Josh Harris
This book is half introduction to theology and half the story of Josh Harris. This book explains theological ideas and terms in easy to understand language. I took a group of teenagers through this book when I was a youth pastor, and it challenged me as well as them.  Not only does this book explain theological truth, it also explains why it matters.

All of these books are great additions to anyone Christian's library. Even if you are an astute theologian these books may affirm your study of God, and remind you of why you study God. If you are a new Christian these books will help you worship God more deeply.

I would love to hear from some of you, what books of this kind do you recommend?

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