By John Frederick
Faculty, College of Theology
In Part 1 of this series on the top theology books for seminarians, I gave a complete list of the top 10 recommend readings. In Part 2 of this series, I provided some brief commentaries on the first three books on the list.
Today, I would like to continue commenting on the recommended selections:
Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly
Did you know that we have a multitude of writings from church leaders that are contemporaneous or just a bit later than the writings of the New Testament? These works are usually referred to as the works of the Apostolic Fathers (or the Early Church Fathers). While they obviously do not carry the same authority as Scripture, they can definitely help us to understand how the theology and practice of the early church developed in the first few hundred years of its existence.
Do not be left shrugging your shoulders when it comes to church history! Dig in and discover the riches of the theological heritage of Christian theology and worship that we have all inherited through our various denominations. It may just be that the path to unity among contemporary Christian denominations resides in the common teachings of the “rule of faith” shared universally by the early church.
Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin
One need not hold to reformed, Calvinistic theology to benefit from the monumental magnum opus of the man who is arguably the Reformation’s greatest exegete and systematic theologian. The best way to critique or defend Calvin’s theology, or to compare the theology of Calvin with the work of other theologians, is to read the “Institutes of Christian Religion” in its entirety. You can read it for free online, but I recommend buying a hard copy. You’ll definitely need it along the way.
And, once you finish reading Calvin, you can move on to Luther, Aquinas, Wesley and every other major theological figure throughout church history.
And yes, it will (and should) take you a lifetime!
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