Tag Archives: Theology

The Gap between Head and Heart


“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4

One of the well-known pitfalls of studying theology is the possibility of treating it as an end in itself, rather than as means to an end.  The goal of theology, the study of God, should be doxology, the worship of God.  When we treat theology as an end, simply the acquisition of doctrinal knowledge, theological pride becomes a very real danger.  Additionally, should theological pride be avoided (which is ever-present), another danger exists.  Doctrinal knowledge apart from Doxological practice is bound to deaden the heart’s affections toward God.

Because of the recent resurgence of interest in the Reformers, the doctrines of grace, etc., particularly among 20 and 30-somethings, the net for this trap has been cast far and wide.  While certainly any so-called denomination or group can easily fall prey to this, it seems most prevalent among those who hold claim to hold to reformed theology.  Once the Scriptures have been opened to illuminate the mind to the sovereignty of God over all things including, particularly or perhaps especially, the salvation of sinners, the flesh is easily tempted to revel in newfound knowledge that others have yet to learn.  Thus the trap for theological pride is set.

However, as we alluded to earlier, there is another trap, perhaps more deadly because it has less to do theological debates or waxing eloquently on this or that doctrine and everything to do with the affections of the heart towards God.

In his book, Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, John Owen comments specifically on this danger

“It is unimaginable how the subtile [sic] disquisitions and disputes of men about the nature, properties and counsels of God, have been corrupted, rendered sapless and useless, by vain curiosity, and striving for an artificial accuracy in the expression of men’s apprehensions.  When the wits and minds of men are engaged in such thoughts, ‘God is not in all their thoughts,’ even when all their thoughts are concerning him.  When once men are got into their metaphysical curiosities and logical niceties in their contemplations about God and his divine properties, they bid farewell, for the most part, unto all godly fear and reverence.”

When we divorce doxology from theology we engage in nothing more than an exercise of the flesh; it’s not only futile, but it’s sinful.  Studying theology is good, but it is good because it gives us a better understanding of the nature of God and His Son Jesus Christ, which ultimately leads us to worship of God.

Despite recent attempts to marginalize and discount their value, the Puritans were the quintessential pattern for how theology leads to doxology.  They were often described as fire and ice.  They had running through their veins the ice of doctrinal precision and steadfastness in the face of opposition along with the burning fire of affection for God that boiled in the bowels of their soul.

Below is further exhortation on the dangers particularly facing the young and reformed.  There, Paul Washer suggests a safeguard to avoiding them, namely the increase of prayer.


Required Reading


One of the many positive impacts of a good seminary or bible college education is the required reading that many of the courses include. Many of the publications which are brought into your path you may not have otherwise encountered[1]. Sometimes, however, this can also be a drawback. A student may find themselves trudging through a book that wouldn’t normally have drawn their attention. Likewise, there may be books that would benefit your soul greatly to spend time going through, but due to the quantity of required reading, there is simply no “free-time” for these books. Fortunately, many of the courses I‘ve been privileged to take at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary cross over these lines and have set before me many books that I have wanted to read or subjects that I have wanted to study and have done a good job of selected representative, quality publications. Below is a list of some of the courses I’ve either taken or am currently enrolled in and the required reading for each. I always enjoy getting the syllabus for a new class and finding out what the required books are. Perhaps this list may help you in building your own library or in reading books for particular subjects. I’ve graded some of these books (and there are excellent online articles mixed in as well): Green for Recommended; Orange for Informative but not necessarily must read; and Red for I wish I hadn’t been forced to read this. Thankfully, there are very few of the latter category.

Old Testament I (2 hrs; Dr. Bob Gonzeles):

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. B & H Academic, 2011.

Kitchen, Kenneth A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 2003.

Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey. 2nd edition. Baker Academic, 2008.

Old Testament II (2 hrs; Dr. Bob Gonzales):

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. B & H Academic, 2011. (Continued from OT I)

200 pages from an extensive supplemental reading list; I chose to read more from:Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey. 2nd edition. Baker Academic, 2008. And excerpts from: Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 1999.

Hermeneutics (3 hrs; Dr. Richard Barcellos):  

Baugh, S. M. “Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology” in Modern Reformation 2/2 (November-December 1993) http://www.bibleresearcher.com/baugh1.html

Beale, G. K. “Did Jesus and his Followers Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?” Themelios 14.3 (April 1989): 91-96. http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/14.3_Beale.pdf

Beale, G.K. “Did Jesus and the Apostles Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Text? Revisiting the Debate Seventeen Years Later in the Light of Peter Enns’ Book, Inspiration and Incarnation” in Themelios 32.1 (October 2006): 18-43 http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/32.1_beale.pdf

Berkhof, Louis. Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950 (various editions; 166pp.).

Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984 (various printings)

Foulkes, Francis. “The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology in the Old Testament” a paper delivered at a meeting convened by the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research on July 1, 1955. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/acts_of_god_foulkes.pdf

Glenny, W. Edward. “Typology: A Summary Of The Present Evangelical Discussion” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40:4 (March 1997): 627-38. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_typology_glenny.html

Johnson, Dennis E. Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2007.

McCartney, Dan G. “Should we employ the hermeneutics of the New Testament writers?” a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003 (14pp.). http://www.bible-researcher.com/mccartney1.html

McCartney Dan and Clayton, Charles. Let the Reader Understand. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002.

Poythress, Vern S. “The Presence of God Qualifying Our Notions of Grammatical-Historical Interpretation: Genesis 3:15 as a Test Case” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50/1 (2007): 87-103 (14pp.). http://www.frame-poythress.org/the-presence-of-god-qualifying-our-notions-ofgrammatical-historical-interpretation-genesis-315-as-a-test-case/

Poythress, Vern S. “What is Literal Interpretation?” in Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 11, Number 29, July 19 to July 25 2009. http://reformedperspectives.org/articles/ver_poythress/ver_poythress.Literal.Interpretation.pdf


Symbolics (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):             

Sam Waldron, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 2009).

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).


Historical I – Early Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

N. R. Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: Part One—The Age of the Early Church Fathers, Revised and Updated (London: Grace Publications Trust, 2011).

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).

Hendrick F. Stander, Johannes P. Louw, Baptism in the Early Church (EP Books, 2004).


Historical II – Medieval Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967).

Augustine, On Grace and Free Will; On Rebuke and Grace; On The Predestination of the Saints; On The Gift of Perseverance (Approximately 150 pages)

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper&Row, 1978).

Major Reformation Documents (150 pages):

  • The Council of Trent, 3rd to 6th Session
  • Augsburg Confession, First Part
  • Martin Luther, Preface to the Commentary on Galatians
  • John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 1: The Things Spoken concerning Christ Profit Us by the Secret Working of the Spirit
  • The Canons of Dordt


Historical III – Modern Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) (University of Chicago Press, 1991).

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923).

The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions, edited by Martin Klauber and Scott Manetsch (B&H Publishing Group: Nashville, 2007).

Geoff Thomas, Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography (Banner of Truth, 2002).


Doctrine of Last Things (2 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future

313 pages from Other Reading:

  • Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism (did not read)
  • Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum (did not read)
  • Sam Waldron, Eschatology Made Simple
  • Sam Waldron, More of the End Times Made Simple
  • Sam Waldron, MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response


Evangelism and Missions (3 hrs; Dr. David Sills):

Ashford, Bruce R. Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations. Nashville: B&H, 2011.

DeYoung, Kevin and Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Piper, John. Let the Nations be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010.

Sills, M. David. The Missionary Call: Find your place in God’s plan for the world. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.

Sills, M. David. Reaching and Teaching: A call to Great Commission obedience. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010.


Doctrine of the Church (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Edmund P. Clowney, The Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995).

Who Runs the Church?: 4 View on Church Government, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004).

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ (2 volumes) (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974).


Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology (2 hrs; Dr. Fred Malone):

Palmer Robertson. The Christ of the Covenants (Philipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, 1980).

Samuel E. Waldron. A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1989).

Pascal Denault. The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology (Birmingham: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2013).

Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen. Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ. (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2004).

Samuel Bolton. True Bounds of Christian Freedom (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1647).


Biblical Theology I (3 hrs; Dr. Richard Barcellos)[2] :

Alexander, T. Desmond. From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2008.

Beale, G. K. “Did Jesus and His Followers Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? An Examination of the Presuppositions of Jesus’ and the Apostles’ Exegetical Method” in G. K. Beale, Editor, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.

Dempster, Stephen G. Dominion and dynasty: A theology of the Hebrew Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Foulkes, Francis. “The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology in the Old Testament” in G. K. Beale, Editor, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. – Have not read this yet, but looks really good.

Thompson, Alan J. The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s account of God’s unfolding plan. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

[1] This of course isn’t to say that one cannot read on the seminary or college level independent of the educational requirements. Most certainly, many can and do read broadly and widely, perhaps even more in quantity and quality than most academic institutions.

[2] Not yet enrolled, but I have begun the reading


Free Theology Books for Kindle

This past weekend I made the plunge into the digital reader world.  I probably wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t received a Christmas gift card earmarked for a Kindle purchase (thanks mom! – and no you’re never too old to thank your mother in public).  With it, I purchased the Kindle Touch 3G/Wi-fi and so far it seems the thing I like most is the availability of massive amounts of free books.  Works that would otherwise cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars are now readily at my fingertips for free.  I have not had the chance to play with any of the third-party document convertors yet (from .pdf) so the volume of free material will likely increase substantially.  That said, I couldn’t really find a site that consolidated the available theology books that are free and in Kindle readable format, so I thought I would provide what I’ve found so far.  Obviously, most if not all of these are from a reformed theological perspective.  I don’t know if Charles Finney, Joel Osteen, or Rob Bell are free and if so they still cost too much.

From the Kindle Store:

This may be an obvious first place to start and I kind of doubted that I’d find anything worthwhile here, but I was wrong.  Below are some of the ones I’ve found more interesting.  Again, I haven’t read these (with the exception of the ESV and Pilgrim’s Progress), but they are free.

  • The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
  • John Bunyan – Works of John Bunyan – Volume 01
  • John Bunyan – The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
  • Jonathan Edwards (and H. Norman Gardiner) – Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards
  • John Foxe – Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  • Martin Luther – A Treatise on Good Works
  • Martin Luther – Concerning Christian Liberty
  • Martin Luther – Works of Martin Luther With Introductions and Notes (Volume I)
  • Martin Luther – Works of Martin Luther With Introductions and Notes (Volume II)
  • Martin Luther – The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and Explained
  • Martin Luther – Epistle Sermons Vol. II Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost
  • Martin Luther – Epistle Sermons Vol. III Trinity Sunday to Advent
  • Martin Luther – Commentary on Genesis, Vol. II Luther on Sin and the Flood
  • Martin Luther – Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
  • Martin Luther – Selections from the Table Talk of Martin Luther
  • Hugh Miller – The Testimony of the Rocks or, Geology in Its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Natural and Revealed
  • A.W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God
  • Isaac Watts – A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody Or, An Enquiry How the Psalms of David Ought to Be Translated into Christian Songs, and How Lawful and … Gospel, for the Use of the Christian Church.

There are others too, though perhaps from more obscure authors.

From Monergism.com (there’s more on this site than what I’ve included below)

  • Augustine – Anti-Pelagian
  • Louis Berkhof – Introduction to the New Testament
  • Louis Berkhof – Summary of Christian Doctrine
  • Loraine Boettner – The Reformed Faith
  • Loraine Boettner – The Atonement
  • Loraine Boettner – The Trinity
  • Thomas Brooks – Heaven on Earth
  • John Bunyan – Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
  • John Bunyan – The Holy War
  • John Bunyan – The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • John Bunyan – Saved by Grace
  • John Calvin – The Institutes of Christian Religion
  • John Calvin – The Prayers of John Calvin from his commentary on Hosea
  • William Cunningham – The Pelagian Controversy
  • William Cunningham – The Socinian Controversy
  • William Cunningham – The Arminian Controversy
  • Jonathan Edwards – Christian Knowledge
  • Jonathan Edwards – Treatise on Grace
  • John Flavel – A Blow at the Root of Antinomianism
  • John Gill – Of Effacacious Grace
  • Steve Hays – Answering Common Objections to Christianity from Skeptics
  • Steve Hays – God’s Canon
  • J. Gresham Machen – Christianity and Liberalism
  • Alexander Maclaren – Sermons on 1&2 Kings
  • A.W. Pink – Saving Faith
  • A.W. Pink – Regeneration or the New Birth
  • A.W. Pink – Divine Covenants
  • J.C. Ryle – Alive or Dead
  • C.H. Spurgeon – All of Grace
  • Cornelius Van Til – Defending the Faith
  • B.B. Warfield – Augustine and the Pelagian Controversy

From Puritanlibrary.com (this site is loaded with content, unfortunately much, if not all, is un-indexed and there are typos/formatting issues.  However, the content is there.)  Note: I didn’t download everything, there is a lot more.

  • The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes
  • William Gurnall – The Christian in Complete Armour
  • The Complete Works of Thomas Manton
  • The Complete Works of John Bunyan
  • The Complete Works of John Owen
  • The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards
  • John Owen – Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews (4 Volumes)

There is a good chance I already have more books than I could read in a lifetime, but since I didn’t pay anything for them, they’ll be handy resources to refer to and learn from.  So far, the rule of thumb I’m taking is if the price of the Kindle book is comparable to the hard copy, then I’m going hard copy most every time.  However, if I can get great value in the Kindle version, such as the complete works of John Owen for $2.99 (hard copy +$325), then it’s well worth it.  Having the Kindle less than a week, I can confidently say I prefer the print copy, but I think there are obvious advantages, such as price, convenience, storage, and searchability, that warrant a Kindle investment.

What about you?  What free books have you found and can recommend?