The semester is right around the corner, but it’s never too late to add more books to your list! An important part of the Christian life is to learn about God and His word. We can do this by learning theology. Theology, however, seems impractical and divisive. Why learn it? There are at least two reasons:
- To know God. Knowing God will require knowing facts about Him
- For discernment. People who do not know sound theology will not be able to discern right teaching from erroneous teaching.
So for that reason, here are some theology resources for beginners in theology and those who want to deepen their understanding even more.
Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem
Dr. Wayne Grudem is a theologian at Phoenix Seminary who writes a short and simple introduction to basic Christian beliefs that all Christians should know. He talks about the authority of the Bible, the character of God, the person and the work of Christ, and much more. For those who want to go deeper, you can read his thicker book, Bible Doctrine, or his even thicker book, Systematic Theology.
Theology: The Basics by Alister E. McGrath
Dr. Alister McGrath is a historical theologian at Kings College in London. He was formerly a theologian at Oxford, has a PhD in Molecular Biology, and has debated atheists such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. In this well-written book, McGrath introduces us to the basic concepts in Christianity: God, Jesus, the Trinity, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Heaven, etc. He uses the Apostle’s Creed as a guide to the book and uses his vast historical knowledge to put things into context. He also explores the nature of faith (is it reasonable) and discusses Natural Theology (the attempt to demonstrate God’s existence using reason alone) at several points in the book, which is good for people who do not have a deep understanding of these things. McGrath is able to remain neutral throughout this book on theological matters, so he doesn’t show much bias for one opinion over another. Because the book is respectful and un-threatening, it is also a good book to give to unbelievers who want a better understanding of Christianity and what it teaches.
Defenders Podcast with William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig is a Christian philosopher and theologian and one of the top defenders of the faith. This FREE podcast is a series of classes in systematic and natural theology that he does in his church (I wish all churches had classes like it!). He discusses each of the important doctrines of the faith by giving some historical background on it, showing the biblical support for the doctrine, giving a philosophically coherent model as to how certain biblical teachings work together, and giving practical application for each doctrinal teaching. What I love about this podcast series is that Dr. Craig never makes quick appeals to mystery when teaching about certain doctrines that sound contradictory (foreknowledge and free-will anyone?), but does his best to give a coherent model for how these things fit together. He also spends several weeks giving arguments for the existence of God and responding to certain atheist objections to faith. Lastly, he allows a lot of time for Q&A from his audience so that certain things can be clarified. Undoubtably one of the audience members will have a question that you have yourself! This is a good resource for people who do not really care to read. You can listen to this on your iPod or in the car. It’ll be a good way to get your dose of theology during the semester when you can’t spend a lot of time reading for pleasure. Oh, did I mention it’s completely free?