The Top Ten Books I Read in Seminary

by Austin Thompson

After five years and one quarter of seminary studies at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in pursuit of my Masters of Divinity (M.Div.), I crossed the finish line in June of 2021. It was an incredible season of discipleship, effort, and personal growth that I am thankful to have experienced. As you could probably guess, the discipline of reading consumed many of the hours dedicated to my degree. Each course required various amounts of required reading to help drive home the topic of study. In this brief article, I want to highlight the Top 10 books that I read in seminary. NOTE: The books are listed in no particular order.

Biblical Preaching – Haddon Robinson (Preparation of Preaching) — This book simplifies the art of preaching to a few, specific goals. While countless books have exhausted every detail of sermon preparation, and the world of preaching has been better as a result, it was refreshing to get a high-level view of the elements a sermon should contain in order to be most effective.

Men and Women: Equal Yet Different– Alexander Strauch (Marriage and Family) — Issues surrounding gender have exploded in the 21st century in ways that many might not have expected. It is important more than ever to possess resources that faithfully articulate God’s authoritative word on gender. This book is short, concise, and an excellent starting place for those seeking to know more about what the Bible has to say about gender and the roles of men and women.

Authorized – Mark Ward (Biblical Introduction) — History has shown that certain denominations, and the people that attend them, possess strong convictions about the specific translation they believe best communicates God’s living word. At the center of many related conversations is the King James Version. This small book does an excellent job of both affirming the value of a translation like the KJV, while also providing a succinct presentation of translation philosophy and why choosing a more recent version is imperative for the modern Christian.

Shepherding A Child’s Heart – Tedd Tripp (Marriage and Family) — Raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord is a difficult and glorious responsibility. In a world that bombards parents with unbiblical parenting advice, it is important that parents are aware of resources that will help them assess their parenting in view of God’s wisdom in Scripture. This book not only lays the necessary theological foundation for parenting, but it is also filled with great practical instruction that can be instantly applied in the home.

The Messiah In The Old Testament – Walt Kaiser (Christ-Centeredness of Scripture) — Not every book on this list will appeal to all types of Christians. Filled with incredibly detailed exegesis of the Hebrew grammar and syntax, this book labors to show that the fulfillment of all things in God’s promised Messiah are beautifully contained within the Old Testament. Augustine once said, “In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New the Old is revealed.” Kaiser’s book is one resource that helps affirm that incredible reality.

Teaching To Change Lives – Howard Hendricks (Teaching For Change) — The most important ministry of the church is the faithful preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that teachers in the church possess the spiritual gift of teaching and are equipped to present the content as effectively and powerfully as possible. This book is filled with great illustrations, principles, and loaded with wisdom from years of experience designed to encourage those who serve in the teaching ministry of the church.

Rediscovering The Church Fathers – Michael Haykin (Church History I) — Many Christians in the church have not had an opportunity to spend significant time studying its rich and storied history. This short book is expertly crafted to provide an introductory look into the theologians of the Patristic Era so that we might gain a greater appreciation for the saints who labored for Christ thousands of years before we were born.

How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth – Christopher Wright (Practice of Preaching) — It is not uncommon for Christians, whether in the preaching of the word or personal study, to spend most of their time in the pages of the New Testament. I mean, the book of Romans, right!? Since the Old Testament makes up almost two-thirds of our inspired Bible, it is important as Christians that we can interact with its content. Despite being a preaching book, this is an excellent resource to become more familiar with how we should understand those things that were written for our instruction before Christ was fully revealed in the flesh.

Christ from Beginning to End – Stephen Wellum and Trent Hunter (Christ-centeredness of Scripture) — While Scripture was written by real human men, the co-authoring of the inspired Scriptures by the Holy Spirit leads to a unity that stretches from Genesis to Revelation. The book is a great introduction to biblical theology, which attempts to zoom out and get a wide lens view of the broader narrative of Scripture. This big picture approach is a tremendous complement to the detailed verse-by-verse exposition that so many of us love.

Christ Formed In You – Brian Hedges (The Christian Life) — At a certain point in history, theologians began to take a systematic approach to the application of salvation in the lives of individual believers. The beauty of this book is that it seeks to reorient our focus on the separate elements within salvation towards a view that sees the benefits of salvation through the lens of our union with Christ. This small change of nuance effectively directs the gaze of the children of God toward the author and perfecter of their faith.

Countless books could have been added to this list. It is my hope that you will explore one or many of these resources. Either way, all Christians should be thankful for the wealth of resources that we have access to in this moment in history. Let’s encourage one another to be good stewards of the edifying material that faithful saints have labored to supply out of a love for Christ and His church.

Runner-Ups:

Old Man And The Sea – Earnest Hemingway (Narrative Techniques in Bible Teaching) — At first glance, almost everyone will realize that this is not a theological work. However, the masterful story telling draws in the reader so that they are invested in the details of the story as it unfolds. This prompted me to remember that we have the best narratives in Scripture, and that if I am not equally as intrigued in their details I am most likely missing something.

What is Biblical Theology – James Hamilton (Christ-Centeredness of Scripture) — For those looking for an even more approachable entry into the discipline of biblical theology, look no further than Hamilton’s introduction to the topic.

Intermediate Greek Grammar – David Mathewson (Greek Exegesis I-II) — One of the most helpful aspects of my Greek study was the concept of discourse analysis. In this work, the author deals less with the various types of each case that can be found in the New Testament (Dative of Association) in favor of identifying how cases function in a passage (Conveying relation).

The Whole Christ – Sinclair Ferguson (The Christian Life) — In this book, Ferguson recounts a historical controversy in the church and explains how the biblical gospel protects individuals from the sins of legalism and antinomianism.

Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism – Iain Murray (Hamartiology/Soteriology) — In another historical case study, the Murray labors to show how Charles Spurgeon defended aspects of the doctrines of grace from the dangers of extremism.

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