Of the writing of books on Calvinism and Arminianism there appears to be no end! So where shall we begin? Since we have started a series at Theology Unplugged entitled “An Invitation to Calvinism,” where might the interested reader begin his/her journey of exploration? Here are my recommendations.

(1) Perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of issues related to Calvinism, together with a fair and objective response to Arminianism, is the two-volume set entitled, The Grace of God and the Bondage of the Will. These books were edited by Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware and published by Baker Books. An abbreviated, one-volume version is also available, entitled, Still Sovereign, also published by Baker. The two volume set has contributions from Schreiner, Ware, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, yours truly, and a host of other Reformed theologians. Highly recommended!

(2) Although it is not specifically designed to address the Calvinism and Arminian debate, Bruce Ware’s book, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, is excellent. This is the best response to what is known as Open Theism. Ware provides an excellent biblical treatment of the foreknowledge and sovereignty of God and how they relate to the life of prayer in particular. It is published by Crossway Books.

(3) There is nothing quite like the old standard, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J. I. Packer (InterVarsity Press). It’s been around seemingly forever (as has Packer!), but is still a very helpful explanation of how one can be a Calvinist and maintain a passion for lost souls.

(4) A more scholarly treatment of the relationship between God’s exhaustive sovereignty and the moral accountability of humans is D. A. Carson’s, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, originally published by John Knox Press and later republished by Baker. This is actually a slightly revised version of Carson’s Cambridge Ph.D. dissertation. It’s challenging but extremely rewarding.

(5) Finally, we need to include in this list of heavy hitters a more practical and pastoral approach to divine sovereignty. There is none better or more helpful than Jerry Bridges’ book, Trusting God(NavPress). Jerry wrote this during the time his wife was dying of cancer. It is the most insightful and practical guide for understanding how God relates to the sufferings and trials of life. The sovereignty of God will never again be merely an abstract doctrine to you after reading this book.

    14 replies to "Top Five Books on Calvinism"

    • PeteRock

      Thanks, I’ll definitely add them to my library. And pastor Storms, I thoroughly enjoyed “Chosen For Life” by…(um, what’s that author’s name again…LOL…just joking). Ok, God bless!

    • John

      Your first choice, The Grace of God and the Bondage of the Will, is hard to find as a two-volume set (altho I find vol. 1 listed occasionally). Does the newer one-volume “Still Sovereign” still earn first place status for you or am I better off with vol. 1 of the original set even if I can’t get vol. 2? Thanks for this list.

      After years of wrestling with the doctrines of grace (I described myself as a “fellow traveler” and as an Arminian Agrippa: “almost thou persuadest me”), it finally makes sense to me and I really see it as I read scripture. I’m anxious to read more and appreciate this list.

    • nick altman

      Um, how exactly did The Institutes get left off a “top five books on Calvinism?” Isn’t that kinda like having a “top ten black and white movies set in Morocco” and forgetting Casablanca?

    • Jim B.

      I loved seeing Ware’s “God’s Lesser Glory” up there. Years ago I was dabbling in Open Theism and a good friend gave me two books to read. First, he gave me “The Openness of God” (Clark, Pinnock, et. al.). After I finished that, he said, “Now read THIS!” and gave me “God’s Lesser Glory”. I was in a Reformed Baptist church within two years.

    • Paul

      Out of this list, Carson and Packer is all you need.

    • whoschad

      Fellow Arminians: Notice that The Bible isn’t on this list.

      (all in fun, of course)

    • […] to wade into a better understanding of Calvinism?  Sam Storms at Parchment and Pen has a list of five books that are a […]

    • david carlson

      @nick (comment #3)

      It’s been my experience that Calvinists often are not that interested in what Calvin actually said.

    • AZTexan

      What, Sam, no Chosen for Life? 🙂

      And how about Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. I give out copies to interested Arminian friends. Only God converts them, as we know; but this book sure shuts ’em up. 🙂

    • cherylu

      Ahem AZ,

      There are folks that are not Calvinists reading and commenting here you know. Even a smiley doesn’t always dull the impact of what is said.

    • Ryan Schatz

      Hey, I need some help from die hard Calvinists to answer some questions about John 6 from the last post here.

    • Pastor EJA

      Book #6: Chosen For Life by Sam Storms. That was the tipping point for me.

    • Jeff Ayers

      The top 5 books on calvinism are clearly:

      5. Chosen but free- Geisler

      4. Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: An Inductive, Mediate Theology of Salvation by C. Gordon Olson

      3. Why I Am Not a Calvinist by Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell

      2. What love is this- Dave Hunt

      But the hands down – no comparison- most thorough- and biblical refutation of 5 point TULIP reformed calvinism is:

      1. The other side of calvinism– by laurence vance

      Honorable mentions would be books refuting calvinism by the following authors:

      Zane Hodges
      John R Rice
      David Cloud
      Peter Ruckman
      Robert Lightner and to a degree RT Kendall

    • Austin

      What? How is Chosen By God by RC Sproul not even *mentioned*, either in the post or in the comments?

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