Every Christian needs to build a good library of solid Christian books to help them study the Bible, learn systematic theology, and be prepared to answer the hard questions asked of the believer. There are scores of Christian books out there, and because not all of them are good, it can be hard for us to know how to build a basic theological library. Here we will look at the ways to build up your personal theology library.
Buy a Good Study Bible
The notes, maps, and other information available in a quality study Bible make this reference tool the cornerstone of your basic theology library. There are countless study Bibles on the market, and they can be evaluated by the schools represented by the scholars. Study Bibles with many contributors from schools like Reformed Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are going to be excellent choices. One of the best study Bibles currently on the market is The Reformation Study Bible.
Purchase a Good, One-Volume Systematic Theology for Your Theology Library
Again, there are going to be many systematic theology texts available at good Christian bookstores. Choose a time-tested systematic theology by Louis Berkhof, Wayne Grudem, or other Reformed evangelical Protestant. The bibliographies in these texts will help you choose good resources to explore individual doctrines more thoroughly.
Find and Bury a Quality One-Volume Bible Commentary
Traditional favorites like the commentary by Matthew Henry are a good choice, but there are many recent works that feature more current scholarship. A good one-volume commentary is the best Christian book to have if you want to be able to quickly study the difficult verses in Scripture.
Acquire a One-Volume Book that Details the History of the Church
One of these will help you understand the development of Christian doctrine and recognize heresies when you encounter them.
Buy a Dictionary of Theological and Biblical Terms
As you read Christian books, you are going to find terms that you are not familiar with and whose definitions are not going to be in ordinary dictionaries. A more specialized resource will provide you with a good place to turn when you find confusing terminology as you read the works in your theology library.
Add a Good Text on Christian Ethics
This work will help you answer questions about bioethics, wealth, politics, family life, and other important topics. Every good study library should have an ethics text and one of the best of these works is The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame.
Use These Tools to Guide You in the Selection of Further Resources
As you read these basic works you will find topics that you are especially interested in studying more. Use the footnotes and bibliographies in these texts to identify works you can add to help facilitate this study and thereby build up your personal theology library as well.
• Look for used books or discount Christian books on online sites to help you save money in this endeavor.
• Internet book sites will also give you reviews of works that can be helpful in making your selections.
• A good personal theology library will serve you well if you ever enroll in a theology program or pursue any one of the several theology degrees available today
• Avoid tools from non-evangelical publishers as they will contain many doctrinal errors.
• Avoid works from those who are not theologically trained, as they will contain simplistic argumentation and will not equip you to be a thoughtful Christian.
• Be careful not to add to your library too quickly. A shelf full of books that you do not have time to read because you keep adding volumes to it is no good to anyone.