Primer on Reformed Categories

This is the Reformed equivalent of Perry’s primer on Orthodox categories. The logic behind is you only have a limited amount of money to spend.  Therefore, and perhaps counter-intuitively, you should spend it on the more expensive yet better books. I am also going to ignore primary sources like Calvin and Luther.  You can easily find these elsewhere.  These are the books I have read, and hence I can recommend them in good knowledge and conscience.

And similar to my refutation of Jay Dyer, you don’t need to be convinced of the Reformed faith to appreciate this.  You just need to know what we are talking about.

One more point: Read Perry’s post on developing intellectual virtues.  Like he says, some of these books are expensive and require a lot of time.  Working through these develops intellectual virtues.

I’m really trying to keep this list manageable.  I’m not going to cover every locus of Systematic Theology.   I’m mostly going for foundational issues.


Oberman, Heiko.  Harvest of Medieval Theology.  Nominalism didn’t create the Reformation.  Some Reformers like Luther studied under nominalists (who were also good Roman Catholics).  Other Reformers were Thomists or strict realists.

Richard Muller

He is the most Reformed intellectual thinker today.  If you are to speak on the Reformed history, and you don’t know Muller, you are ignorant.

Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms.  This is the most important book in my library.  I read it like a novel.

You should probably get his four volumes on Reformed Dogmatics, but good luck finding it.  In that case, get volume 1 on prolegomena.

Christ and the Decree.  Based on his doctoral dissertation; he refutes the idea that later Calvinists “hardened” Calvin’s view on predestination.

Divine Will and Human Choice.  Whenever this is brought up, people think Muller is attacking Jonathan Edwards and advocating libertarian freedom.  He does no such thing.  Edwards doesn’t figure in this book much.  Edwards isn’t even that important to the development of Reformed orthodoxy.  Muller, as a good historian, is simply finding out what the sources say.

Covenant Theology

Clark, R. Scott. Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant.  Highlights the internal/external distinction.

Rutherford, Samuel. Trial and Triumph of Faith. Banner of Truth.  Good notes on the Covenant of Redemption.

Witsius, Herman.  The Economy of the Covenants.


Turretin, Francis.  Institutes of Elenctic Theology vol. 1.  Turretin has no equal.

Bavinck, Herman.  Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena.  Bavinck recovers categories that were lost to 20th century Reformed world.


Owen, John.  Communion with God.  Banner of Truth.


Murray, John. Principles of Conduct.  Mostly outstanding, though I don’t think his use of “Truth” holds water in the most extreme case (e.g, Nazis at the door).


Clark, R. Scott.  Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace.  Not only is this a fine representation on the Reformed view of baptism, it is a good primer against the Federal Vision.

Mathison, Keith. Given for You.  We believe in the real presence in the Supper, but we do not equate “real” with “corporeal.”