what to read for the reformation and modern church

Again, feel free to add your recommendations.  And I apologize for the formatting issues.

4. Reformation Church

a. Survey

George, Timothy.  Theology of the Reformers.  Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1999.

MacCulloch, Diarmaid.  The Reformation:  A History.  New York:  Penguin Books, 2003. 

 Hillerbrand, Hans J.  The Reformation:  A Narrative History Related by Contemporary

Observers and Participants.  New York; Grand Rapids:  Harper and Row, Baker, 1964, 1972.

Althaus, Paul.  The Theology of Martin Luther.  translated by Robert C. Schultz.  Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1966. 

 Oberman, Heiko.  Luther.  New York:  Doubleday, 1989.

Wendel, François.  Calvin:  The Origins and Development of His Religious Thought.  London:  Collins, 1963. 

 Williams, George Huntston.  The Radical Reformation.  Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1962. 


b. Primary Sources

Lull, Timothy F., ed.  Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings.  Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989, second edition, 2005.

 Calvin, John.  Institutes of the Christian Religion.  Ed. John T. McNeill.  Trans. Ford    Lewis Battles.  2 vols.  Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1960.

Read the Council of Trent, Westminster Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dordt online.


5. Modern Church

a. Survey

Grenz, Stanley J. and Roger E. Olsen.  Twentieth Century Theology.  Downers Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Livingston, James C.  Modern Christian Thought:  From the Enlightenment to Vatican II.   New York:  MacMillan, 1971; second edition, Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2006.

Marsden, George.  Jonathan Edwards:  A Life.  Yale University Press, 2004.


b. Primary Sources

Edwards, Jonathan.  The Religious Affections.  1746.  Reprint, Carlisle, P.A.:  The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997.

 Kant, Immanuel.  Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone.  New York:  Harper, 1960.

Schleiermacher, Friedrich.  On Religion:  Speeches To Its Cultured Despisers.  New York:  Harper & Bros., 1958.

 Barth, Karl.  Dogmatics in Outline.  New York:  HarperCollins, 1959.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Liguori, MO:  Liguori Publications, 1994.






7 responses to “what to read for the reformation and modern church”

  1. Jonathan Shelley

    Livingston’s two-volume Modern Christian Thought is one of the greatest resources ever. I’m so glad you recommended that to me. Dr. Bennett prefers Ford’s Modern Theologians, which is more readible, but not as detailed.

    I would include John and Charles Wesley from the Classics in Western Spirituality series. I have also gotten a lot of use out of Mark Noll’s History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, although a pastor might find that text a bit remedial.
    If the pastor is a Baptist, I might recommend some selections from John Gill’s Body of Divinity and Cramner’s 39 Articles.

    I’m not much of a fan of Timothy George, but Hans Hillerbrand’s text is fantastic. I would also consider adding some of Richard Muller’s texts to the list for a more in-depth analysis of Protestant Scholasticism, particularly his writings on Arminius.

    I’m surprised you didn’t include any Warfield, Machen, Bavinck, or Kuyper on the list. What about a carefully edited version of Martin Gardener’s The Flight of Peter Fromm?

    Lastly, I would have to recommend with all earnestness the two most important theological works of the 21st century: Heaven is a Place on Earth and Don’t Stop Believing

  2. Justin

    Mike, I wonder about your thoughts on W. Robert Godfrey’s biography of Calvin, “John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor”, particularly in relationship to Cottret and Parker for a biographical intro to Calvin.

  3. mikewittmer


    I haven’t read Godfrey yet, but I will make a point of it and get back to you. I think McGrath’s biography on Calvin is very good and quite readable.


    I know I omitted all of the old Princeton and Dutch Reformed folks. This is what makes teaching the last 200 years of theology so difficult–how to decide what to include and what gets omitted. And Machen and Kuyper are probably the most pertinent authors around, even though they wrote about 100 years ago.

  4. Brian McLaughlin

    What is the best bio on Bonhoeffer?

  5. Jonathan Shelley


    Now that you’ve told us what we should read, what are the “must haves” for our personal libraries? What are the books that every pastor and serious student of theology needs to have quick and regular access to?

  6. mikewittmer


    Let me think about that and get back to you.


    I am no expert on Bonhoeffer, but a good short bio is Renate Wind, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel” (Eerdmans) and a nice interpretation of his theology is Georg Huntemann, “The Other Bonhoeffer” (Baker). There well may be others that are superior, but these would supply a solid understanding of his life and thought.

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