Five Theology Books Anyone Can Read
If you want to introduce theological study into your life, but are worried that the only way to do that is buy a five pound book, check out this list of five easy-to-read theology books. Studying theology can add so much value to the lives of everyday Christians, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. These books offer rich theology in accessible language suitable for beginners.
Considering that it’s the center of our Christian faith, there don’t seem to be that many books dedicated to nothing more than explaining the gospel. This book, however, takes up that task. Fairly short and easy to read, it still does a thorough job of considering the different aspects of the gospel, why they’re important, and how they work out for our good.
There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions of the gospel in the world today, so it is imperative that we understand the true gospel—the gospel accomplished by Christ, proclaimed by the apostles, and written in the Scriptures. That is Gilbert’s goal, to discover and explain the biblical gospel.
Throughout the book, Gilbert is careful and clear, providing Scripture references and using helpful examples as he explains each point in succession. In his foreword, D. A. Carson wrote that What is the Gospel? doesn’t break new ground so much as revisit old ground that never should have been abandoned.
We must keep the gospel central to our faith, but we can only do that when we understand it rightly. If the gospel is fuel in the furnace of worship then this book fans the flames, encouraging the furnace to burn higher and hotter, to lap up every drop of gospel truth and respond in fervent worship.
In graduate school I had the privilege of having Clay Jones as a professor, including in his class called Why God Allows Evil. This book wasn’t released yet, but I bought it as soon as I was able. The topic is, of course, rather heavy, and the book reflects that—Dr. Jones doesn’t hold back—but it progresses with a mind to encourage you in the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Throughout the entire book, Jones presents his concepts within the perspective of eternity. So while much of the book involves coming to grips with the gravity and severity of sin in this world, the second half considers questions and misconceptions of heaven and eternity.
Jones has taught on this topic for many years and I learned so much from him in his classes. I’m sure that anyone who reads this book will gain much from it as well.
This little book was originally written in Greek, but there are a few English translations of it, some of which are freely available from a variety of sources online. On the Incarnation stands as a classic of the Christian faith, explaining the necessity of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It does so with both simplicity and theological depth.
Although the text is old it is accessible, especially the more modern translations, and C.S. Lewis’ introduction (an apologetic for reading old books) is also well worth reading.
Mere Christianity has become a Christian classic known for its straightforward reasoning and imaginative examples. In it, Lewis puts his different questions forward leaving us the readers scratching our heads at their possible resolution. But then he gives us the explanation in such a way as to be so clear and simple that we may well wonder we didn’t think of them ourselves.
The writings collected in the book were originally delivered by C.S. Lewis himself on the radio during World War II. There are several times throughout the book when remembering the original audience deepens and provides context to the discussion. When Lewis talks about justice and morality he is not doing so as a dispassionate observer and his listeners were not practicing mere thought experiments. Lewis speaks as one who fought in the First World War, and his listeners were those facing the reality of the Second.
The theology of Mere Christianity is simple, but without compromising depth; it is plain, but still rich. Lewis’ goal was to describe what all Christians believe, mainly for the benefit of those who were not Christians. However, this does not mean it holds no value for those of us who are.
It is all too easy for us to get distracted by things of secondary importance and lose our first love. Sometimes we need to look at things from a different angle to get back on track. Sometimes we need a renewed understanding of what we believe and why we should believe it.
Mere Christianity can help us guide our thinking about Christianity and faith and will likely leave us with a new perspective. Both theology and apologetic, this book remains insightful and accessible nearly 70 years after it was first published.
The number one theological book, the book by which we judge all other theological books, is the Bible. Theology is the study of God and what better place to begin than with God’s revelation of Himself. Some books of the Bible are filled with rich theological expositions, others are narrative or poetic in nature, but all have something to teach us about God. A good theologian uses the truths revealed throughout the entire Bible to inform his theology.
The Bible is, of course, a bit longer than the rest of the books on this list, and certainly isn’t always easy to read, but it’s worth the effort. A study Bible or commentary are helpful tools as you read, especially for some of the more confusing passages.
A great place to start to get at the theological concepts in a passage of Scripture is to simply ask two questions. First, what does this passage teach about God? Second, what does this passage teach about humanity? You can certainly go deeper from there, and there are many more questions to ask of a passage when doing biblical interpretation, but these two questions can help as you train yourself to discover theology in the Bible.
Have you read any of these books before? If so, did you think of them as being books about theology? I encourage everyone to read the Bible, of course, but if you already have a Bible reading habit, starting one of these books is a great way to get more theology in your life.