Basic Books for the Laity

Following up on my post about commentaries, this post will give an assortment of good books for the laity to read. No doubt, there will be many books not listed here which are also excellent for the laity. I waive the point. This is just my list. By all means, though, leave comments as to what books you think are excellent for the beginning Christian. I will also try to limit the list to books that are good for mature laity as well as beginning Christians. I will split it up into the various areas of study for ease of reference. Furthermore, they will be listed in incremental difficulty from easiest to most difficult, although even the most difficult would still be accessible to a beginning Christian.

Doctrine: The Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity; The Christian Life, by Sinclair Ferguson; The Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin; The Christian’s Reasonable Service, by Wilhelmus a’Brakel

Church History: Church History In Plain Language, by Bruce Shelley; The Church in History, by B.K. Kuiper; History of the Christian Church, by Phillip Schaff

Apologetics: Every Thought Captive, by Richard Pratt; The Battle Belongs to the Lord, by Scott Oliphint; The Reason for God, by Tim Keller; Christian Apologetics, by Cornelius Van Til; The Defense of the Faith, by Cornelius Van Til

Practical Theology: The Christian Life, by Sinclair Ferguson (no accident that it is listed twice); Knowing God, by J.I. Packer; In Christ Alone, by Sinclair Ferguson; The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande; Holiness, by J.C. Ryle; Memoirs and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, The Christian Directory, by Richard Baxter



  1. Lewis Noles said,

    October 9, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I like, “Church History In Plain Language , by Bruce Shelley,” and used it to teach a class on church history to church members many years ago. I have also found “Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity” to be good book as well.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    October 9, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Lewis, welcome to my blog. Yes, I thought about putting Gonzalez’s book on here, but I haven’t read it myself or have any experience with it. But I understand that it also is excellent.

  3. Patrick said,

    October 9, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks, great list!

    A few more which come to mind at the moment:


    Concise Theology by J.I. Packer
    Great Doctrines of the Bible by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
    Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Boice
    Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame

    Church History

    Great Leaders of the Christian Church by John Woodbridge (ed.)
    The History of Christianity (A Lion Handbook) by Tim Dowley (ed.)
    Short or mini biographies like the recent one on Jonathan Edwards from George Marsden (or his larger, definitive one). Or bios from Iain Murray like The Forgotten Spurgeon. Also, I’ve been enjoying D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Puritans: Their Origins and Successors.

  4. Scott said,

    October 9, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Let me add as a great resource, at once a high level view and yet profound,

    Dr RC Sproul, “What is Reformed Theology”? (former title, “Grace Unknown”)


  5. Cath said,

    October 9, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Practical Religion, by JC Ryle?

    (I’m deeply indebted to Bishop Ryle.)

  6. October 10, 2008 at 9:17 am

    […] for the Laity My friend Lane has also published a list of books he would recommend for the people in the pew to read and I would whole heartedly agree with his choices.  I have read all of them (save […]

  7. rgmann said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:33 pm


    Systematic Theology, by Vincent Cheung.


    Ultimate Questions, by Vincent Cheung.


    Presuppositional Confrontations, by Vincent Cheung.

    Of course, there are many other great books out there, but I would recommend these three first to new and intermediate level Christians (and they’re free online!).

  8. tokethis said,

    October 13, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    How about a good theological encyclopedia? My mom wants one and I would like to get her one for Christmas?.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I would sooner give her a primer on theology than an encyclopedia. If then she wants more than that, give her Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, and she can use the index as an encyclopedia.

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