How to Study the Bible
What rules of interpretation apply to how we read the Bible? Do any apply at all? In these lessons, we look at the general rules for interpreting the Bible, and focus on two specific sections of the Bible, one from the Old Testament (narrative) and one from the New Testament (the letters).
The Mission of the Church
What is the church’s mission? Why do we structure the church the way we do, and what determines what we do and do not do as a church? The Scriptures provide the answers to these questions, and in these lessons we look both the church’s vision (what we want to be) and mission (how we accomplish the vision).
Bible Storyline Videos
What story is the New Testament telling? In these two lessons, we look at how the New Testament tells the story of how God in Christ is fulfilling the promises he made to Israel. The fulfilment of the Old Testament promises in Christ now in the last days generate the many topics that the New Testament books develop.
The Bible’s Storyline in the NT – Part 1
Read Scripture Videos
The Bible Project does a good job of producing videos that overview books of the Bible, as well as the main themes and words in the Bible. You can view all their videos on their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject
Here are some resources to help you in your study of the Bible
BibleGateway.com is a “searchable online Bible in over 150 versions”: https://www.biblegateway.com/.
YouVersion is a great downloadable app for reading and listening to the Bible as well: https://www.youversion.com/
The NET Bible: a translation accompanied by hundreds of notes on translation, textual matters, and interpretation: https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Malachi+3:11
Lectures and Seminars
Covenant Seminary and RTS make many of their lectures, seminars, and other material available for free. You can access Covenant’s resources here: https://www.covenantseminary.edu/resources/, and RTS’s through itunes: http://itunes.rts.edu/.
Both seminaries also include their material in downloadable apps.
Calvin’s Commentaries are available for free on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (which has many other great resources as well): https://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/commentaries.i.html
Need a commentary for a particular book, or looking for a new set? They are organized and graded here: www.bestcommentaries.com
Ligonier: Articles, audio, video, and more. https://www.ligonier.org/ has some of the most accessible Reformed resources available.
You can find the Westminster Standards on the PCA website here:
or on the OPC website, here:
The Westminster Confession of Faith Series
The Westminster Confession of Faith functions as part of the constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), explaining what PCA churches believe the Bible teaches on important topics. In this series, Pastor Winston overviews the opening chapters of the confession, looking at topics such as Scripture, predestination, covenant theology, and the application of salvation.
Official website for the PCA: http://www.pcanet.org
The PCA’s denominational magazine, byFaith: https://byfaithonline.com
The PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries’ website has many helpful tools for ministry, including material for women: https://pcacdm.org/
PCA Historical Center: http://www.pcahistory.org/
Reformed theology and historic studies: https://reformed.org/
Here you will find basic summaries of books that Pastor Winston has recently read. The books may be new or old, good or bad (or somewhere in between), and each entry will give you an idea of the book’s main argument. Perhaps you will find a book you are interested in reading!
Tod Bolsinger. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity, 2018.
A must-read for pastors and Christian leaders. Bolsinger gives sage advice on how to lead churches and Christian organizations in an increasingly post-Christian culture. Bolsinger argues that most pastors have been trained for a world that is disappearing, but if they adapt and adventure they can thrive. A key book on developing a missional mindset. Bolsinger also writes in a way that respects church history and is not combative towards the culture.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
No, I’m not preparing for a conversion, but if you want to know what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches, this is your resource. Not every Catholic you meet will know or believe everything in this book, but, again, this is the official teaching the Roman Catholic Church wants its people to know and confess. A consistent theme of cooperation with God in order to become righteous and be saved runs throughout the entire work, and this is my biggest criticism of the Catholic doctrine of salvation (see Romans 4:1-8).
Herman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics, Volumes One-Four. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003-08.
A standard, in-depth Reformed systematic theology. Readable, warm, and will teach you the complete doctrines of the Reformed faith. If you’d rather read a one-volume work, see Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology.
Andrew Stephen Damick. Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith. Chesteron, IN: Conciliar, 2011.
If you’re curious to know what Eastern Orthodox Christians believe, this is not the book for you (Orthodox beliefs are summarized briefly in an opening chapter). But if you’re curious to know how Orthodox Christians view Protestants, Roman Catholics, traditional cults, and other religions, then you will find this an informative resource. The challenge to Protestantism requires Presbyterians and other Protestants to defend sola Scriptura and the priority of doctrinal faithfulness over a visible institution (both ideas are defensible), while guarding against the unnecessary fragmentation of Christianity and Protestantism.
Jen Wilkin. None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.
An edifying and accessible introduction to God’s incommunicable attributes (divine attributes that belong to God alone). Each chapter presents foundational Scriptures to the respective attribute, and applies the truth in a heart-warming manner. Discussion questions also follow each chapter.
Terry Johnson. Serving with Calvin: Leading and Planning Services of Worship in the Reformed Church. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2015.
What are practical ways for pastors and elders to lead their local churches into substantive, biblical, Reformed worship? This book serves as to “how-to” manual and compliment to Terry Johnson, Worshiping with Calvin: Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism (Darlington, England: EP Books, 2014). This volume is particularly helpful in suggesting how to avoid pitfalls in implementing Reformed worship!
John Hendrix. The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler. New York: Amulet, 2018.
A middle-grade graphic novel that overviews the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with a focus on his involvement in the German resistance. Historically informative and spiritually edifying!
Clinton McLemore. Toxic Relationships and How to Change Them: Health and Holiness in Everyday Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Examines eight toxic relationship styles, introduced by a helpful overview of how relationships work in general. For each relationship style, McLemore also describes the healthy version, how to move towards it if you tend towards the toxic version, and how to relate to others who tend towards each style. Eminently practical.
Hughes Old. Leading in Prayer: A Workbook for Worship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.
Have you ever wondered why a Reformed worship service has the various prayers it does? In this book, Hughes Oliphant Old reviews the Scripture, theology, and history behind the various types of prayers in Reformed liturgy: invocation, confession and supplication, illumination, intercession, and thanksgiving. Old also examines the psalms as prayer, communion prayers, hymnody, and benedictions and doxologies. Each chapter contains abundant examples of each prayer from Old’s pastoral ministry.
Kevin Bauder. Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order. Schaumberg, IL: Regular Baptist Books, 2012.
I was saved in a Baptist church, and later attended a Baptist seminary (Central Baptist Theological Seminary, where Kevin Bauder teaches). Despite that, I had never read a book that succinctly explains and defends Baptist distinctives (I was familiar with the acronyms and main arguments about baptism, but as Bauder argues in this book, there is more than that to being a Baptist). One rule of debate is that you must be able to articulate your opponent’s argument in such a way that he will agree with your summary (an idea I also learned from Bauder). If you want to be fair in your understanding and treatment of what Baptists believe, then this book will serve you well. If you want the Presbyterian versions of this book, see Sean Michael Lucas, On Being Presbyterian: Our Beliefs, Practices, and Stories (Phillipsburg, NJ: 2006), and Ken Golden, Presbytopia: What it means to be Presbyterian (Geanies House, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015) [and I welcome other suggestions to add to this list].
Ken Golden. Presbytopia: What it means to be Presbyterian. Geanies House, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015.
A short, entry-level description of what Presbyterians believe. The three sections cover Christian essentials, Reformed distinctives, and means of grace (preaching, baptism, Lord’s Supper, prayer). The kind of material one encounters in a new members class at a conservative Presbyterian church.
Kevin Bauder and Robert Delnay. One in Hope and Doctrine: Origins of Baptist Fundamentalism, 1870–1950. Schaumberg, IL: Regular Baptist Books, 2014.
An enjoyable read about the origins of Baptist fundamentalism in the early 1900’s. Focuses mainly on developments in the north and Midwest, but also gives good attention to southern fundamentalism. Helpful for understanding the issues that Baptist fundamentalists hold dear, as well as the different varieties of Baptist fundamentalism. Also helpful for any conservative to better understand the differences between conservative Christianity and theological liberalism, as well as the strategies the liberals employed in this historical instance.
Nancy Pearcey. Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and other God Substitutes.
Proposes a five-step process for evaluating non-Christian worldviews: identify the idol; identify the idol’s reductionism; test the idol—does it contradict what we know about world; does the explanation hold together logically (does the worldview undermine itself); replace the idol—make the case for Christianity. A good exercise in thinking through worldviews in order to demonstrate their inability to account for reality as we know it. I am not sure if the author is Van Tillian. A little more appeal to natural revelation that I care for.
Michael Riley. “Barry Stroud’s Argument against World-Directed Transcendental Arguments and its Implications for the Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til.” PhD Diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 2014.
Examines whether Barry Stroud’s arguments against transcendental arguments fundamentally undermine Van Tillian apologetics (do Van Til’s arguments still require fideism or idealism?). Riley advocates for modest transcendental arguments, arguments that do show the impossibility of the contrary, and demonstrate that Christianity is the only viable alternative to skepticism, but without relying on human autonomy at the expense of revelation.
Kevin DeYoung. The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
A basic overview to the Ten Commandments. The book begins with an introduction on why we should keep the Ten Commandments, followed by ten chapters unpacking each commandment, respectively (a very short conclusion follows). Each chapter reads like a (good) sermon, and addresses the basic meaning and biggest applications of each commandment.