Top 5 Recommended Systematic Theology Volumes

It is very helpful to have a few different Systematic Theology volumes on your shelf for reference. What follows in this post is my recommendation for which ones to have!

#1- Daniel Akin, A Theology for the Church 2nd ed. (Nashville; B&H Academic, 2014).

This great volume is edited by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin. It has contributions by scholars such as Russel Moore, David Dockery, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Paige Patterson, etc. This great volume is constructed in such a way that each chapter has sections on historical theology (what the church has believed), biblical theology (what does the bible say), and practical theology (how does this doctrine impact the church today). This volume is extremely helpful in bridging the gap between theology and the church giving practical applications for how the doctrine discussed directly affects the church today.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The beginning theologian+

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price: $35.47 (Amazon)

#2 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology 3rd ed. (Downers Grove: Baker Academic, 2013).

This volume is an extremely thorough volume covering even the minute details of the doctrines and their historical development. It is written by Dr. Millard Erickson, distinguished professor of Theology at Western Seminary, Portland. Dr. Erickson has done a great job giving a thorough explanation of the doctrine so that the reader can gain as much knowledge as possible. This volume is helpful for more in depth theological study and research. It is not a volume for the light of heart and takes diligence to get through.

Readability: Moderate

Recommended reader: The amateur theologian+

Quality rating: 5 star

Price:$34.36 (Amazon)

# 3 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007).

This volume is obviously a more historical volume of systematic theology and still just as applicable and important. It is written by the reformer John Calvin. It was considered, and should still be considered, a great introduction to the Protestant faith. It is filled with well written expositions of various doctrines from ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) and sacraments to justification by faith alone. Calvin made sure to include his arguments against what he considered to be unorthodox theology, particularly some of the Roman Catholic teaching. This volume is theologically deep but rich. Take time to read this volume slowly being sure to digest every word that Calvin writes.

Readability: Moderate

Recommended reader: The amateur theologian+

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price: $19.98 (Amazon)

#4 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2010).

Karl Barth is arguably one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. He mentored and taught theologians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and T.F. Torrance. In a reaction to liberalism and German idealism, Barth sought to express what he believed to be orthodox theology. This expression is what we know today as the 14 volume church dogmatics. This set is definitely not an easy read and must be read slowly and carefully remembering that this is a translation from German so the difficulty will be higher than other volumes in this list. Barth is known for his thoughtful reflections on the Trinity, Christology, and Ecclesiology.

Readability: Difficult

Recommended reader: The advanced theologian

Quality Rating: 4 stars

Price: $210 (Amazon)

#5 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Downers Grove: Zondervan, 1994).

Wayne Grudem is professor of theology at Phoenix seminary and used to teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school in Deerfield, Il. He has done a good job at making theology accessible to those who are knew to theological studies. Each chapter ends with helpful discussion questions and even a recommended hymn. This volume is a good introduction to Systematic Theology but should not be considered a stand alone volume for he rarely consults historical theology. I recommend you use Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology (Downers Grove: Zondervan, 2011) with it. However, this would be an easy volume to use with a church small group or Sunday school as it already has discussion questions and is saturated with scripture.


Recommended reader: The beginning theologian+

Quality rating: 3 stars

Price: $28.95 (Amazon)


Photo Credit: brownpau/flickr

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