Pillar Journal

Some Frequently Used Theological Sources


Students of theology will find in this list helpful suggestions for where to start in reading works of systematic theology. Though not all these works are of equal value, and not all of them are Reformed in doctrine (though most are), they all are important sources for studying theology, and all were seriously consulted in the preparation of Reformed Systematic Theology (RST). The list is by no means exhaustive; the bibliographies in RST extend to more than sixty pages in each volume. And good books have been published after the research for RST was completed. But this list provides a starting place.

If a Reformed pastor or theological student could purchase only three works of systematic theology, we would recommend the three B’s. First, read Berkhof’s Systematic Theology (in a single volume) for a concise summary of Reformed theology. Second, read Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service (4 vols.) for the cream of Reformed experiential orthodoxy. Third, read Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (4 vols.) for the apex of modern Reformed theological and historical reflection. But we also recommend reading widely in Reformed orthodox writings, including the collected works of the Puritans.

Collected Works of Theology
  • Bates, William.
    The Whole Works of the Rev. W. Bates. Edited by W. Farmer. 4 vols. Reprint, Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1990. The eschatological masterpiece The Four Last Things is found in volume 3.
  • Boston, Thomas.
    The Complete Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Boston, Ettrick. Edited by Samuel M‘Millan. 12 vols. 1853. Reprint, Stoke-on-Trent, England: Tentmaker, 2002. Volumes 1–2 contain a systematic exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Volume 8 contains a study on anthropology, the state of sin, salvation, and eschatology: Human Nature in Its Fourfold State (also published separately from the Works).
  • Charnock, Stephen.
    The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock. 5 vols. Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864. Volumes 1–2 contain The Existence and Attributes of God.
  • Edwards, Jonathan.
    The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 26 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957–2008.
  • Flavel, John.
    The Works of John Flavel. 6 vols. 1820. Reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1968. In volume 1, one can find Flavel’s masterful exposition of the work of Christ, titled A Fountain of Life.
  • Goodwin, Thomas.
    The Works of Thomas Goodwin. 12 vols. 1861–1866. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006. Volume 4 contains Christ Set Forth and The Heart of Christ in Heaven towards Sinners on Earth. Volume 5 contains Of Christ the Mediator.
  • Luther, Martin.
    Luther’s Works. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut T. Lehmann, Christopher Boyd Brown, and Benjamen T. G. Mayes. 79 vols. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, and Philadephia: Muhlenberg Press, 1958–2016.
  • Murray, John.
    Collected Writings of John Murray. 4 vols. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977.
  • Owen, John.
    The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold. 16 vols. 1850–1853. Reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1965–1968. Owen is justly famous for his treatises on Christ (vol. 1), communion with the triune God (vol. 2), the work of the Holy Spirit (vol. 3), and many other writings.
  • Perkins, William.
    The Works of William Perkins. Edited by Joel R. Beeke, Derek W. H. Thomas, et al. 10 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015–2021. Volume 5 contains the systematic theology titled, An Exposition of the Symbol, or Creed. Volume 6 contains his treatise on predestination and its application, A Golden Chain.
  • Sibbes, Richard.
    The Works of Richard Sibbes. Edited by Alexander B. Grosart. 7 vols. 1862–1864. Reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1973.
  • Swinnock, George.
    The Works of George Swinnock. 5 vols. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992.
Systematic Theology

Medieval Theology

  • Aquinas, Thomas.
    Summa Theologica. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. 22 vols. London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1914.
  • Bonaventure.
    Breviloquium. Translated and edited by Dominic Monti. Volume 9 in The Works of St. Bonaventure. 18 vols. Saint Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 1955–2018. A helpful, shorter summary of medieval theology.
  • Lombard, Peter.
    The Sentences. Translated by Giulio Silano. 4 vols. Toronto: Pontifical Institutes of Mediaeval Studies, 2007–2010.

Reformation/Puritan/Reformed Orthodox Theology

  • Ames, William.
    The Marrow of Theology. Translated by John D. Eusden. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968.
  • Brakel, Wilhelmus à.
    The Christian’s Reasonable Service. Translated by Bartel Elshout. Edited by Joel R. Beeke. 4 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992–1995.
  • Calvin, John.
    Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. McNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. Library of Christian Classics 20–21. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960. The translation by Beveridge is also very good, and at some points to be preferred.
  • Gill, John.
    A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: or, a System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures. 1839. Reprint, Paris, AR: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1995. Reformed Baptist.
  • Polyander, Johannes, Antonius Walaeus, Antonius Thysius, and Andreas Rivetus.
    Synopsis Purioris Theologiae, Synopsis of a Purer Theology: Latin Text and English Translation. Translated by Riemer A. Faber. Edited by Dolf te Velde, Rein Ferwerda, Willem J. van Asselt, William den Boer, Riemer A. Faber, Henk van den Belt, and Harm Goris. 3 vols. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions: Texts and Sources. Leiden: Brill, 2014, 2016, 2020. Also available in a 2-volume English-only edition by the Davenant Institute.
  • Turretin, Francis.
    Institutes of Elenctic Theology. Translated by George Musgrave Giger. Edited by James T. Dennison Jr. 3 vols. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1992–1997.
  • Ussher, James.
    A Body of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion. Introduced by Crawford Gribben. Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground, 2007.
  • Watson, Thomas.
    A Body of Divinity. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1965.
  • Willard, Samuel.
    A Compleat Body of Divinity in Two Hundred and Fifty Expository Lectures on the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. Boston: by B. Green and S. Kneeland for B. Eliot and D. Henchman, 1726.
  • Witsius, Herman.
    The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man. 2 vols. 1822. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010. ———. Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed. Translated by Donald Fraser. 2 vols. 1823. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010.
  • Wollebius, Johannes.
    Compendium Theologiae Christianae. In Reformed Dogmatics, edited and translated by John W. Beardslee III. A Library of Protestant Thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Modern Theology

  • Bavinck, Herman.
    Reformed Dogmatics. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. 4 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003–2008.
  • Berkhof, Louis.
    Systematic Theology. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958.
  • Erickson, Millard J.
    Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013. Erickson is not Reformed but is a very perceptive evangelical Baptist theologian.
  • Frame, John M.
    A Theology of Lordship Series. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. The Doctrine of God. The Doctrine of the Word of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1987, 2002, 2010. Innovative in presentation; differs at points from traditional Reformed orthodoxy.
  • Grudem, Wayne.
    Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020. Reformed in soteriology, charismatic in pneumatology, and Baptist in ecclesiology.
  • Hodge, Charles.
    Systematic Theology. 3 vols. 1871–1873. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999.
  • Kelly, Douglas F.
    Systematic Theology: Grounded in Holy Scripture and Understood in the Light of the Church. 3 vols. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008–2021.
  • Nichols, Greg.
    Lectures in Systematic Theology. Edited by Rob Ventura. 7 vols. planned. 3 vols. to date. Seattle: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017–. Reformed Baptist.
  • Reymond, Robert L.
    A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998.
  • Vos, Geerhardus.
    Reformed Dogmatics. Translated and edited by Richard B. Gaffin et al. 5 vols. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012–2016.

In Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology