College was one of the more delightful social experiences for me. I truly got to explore my faith through reading. Sadly, seminary was one of the worst–if not the worst–experiences of my life. I’ve beaten up on RTS Jackson in the past–and I always shall–but some problems were mine. Anyway, if a young seminarian reads this and takes these reading recommendations to heart, then some good will come of it. I am not an expert, but I have read an insane amount so I know a little on these issues.
These are book/learning recommendations that should be with the student always. These are not books to be read once and set aside, but to continually guide the reader. I am leaving out biblical commentaries, since there are so many.
Thales to Dewey by Gordon Clark. I don’t want to get into the Clark-Van Til debate, but even if Van Til were correct, and I don’t necessarily think he is, his writing style and worldview is so abstract and borderline incoherent that I seriously question how useful it can be. It’s not simply a matter of understanding Van Til, but of knowing that the person with whom you dialogue also understands Van Til, a point that even Bahnsen conceded. Clark on the other hand has a clear and warm writing style, and hits upon deep issues.
Thomas Reid: Inquiry and Essays. Okay, I doubt this will help your preaching much, but Reid helped me a whole lot with foundational issues, and he cleared away a lot of the Van Tillian debris. For what it’s worth, Hodge wrote volume one of his systematic theology with Reid in mind.
History of the Christian Church by Williston Walker. There are probably better sources, but Walker has stood the test of time. He is more critical than I am of the biblical account, but his critical resources pay off well centuries down the road.
Schaff, Philip. Church History set. Seven volumes, which is probably too much to have on the immediate shelf, but covers more detail than Walker
Hodge, Charles. There is no way of knowing who has the best systematic theology. It depends on what you are looking for. Against evangelical feminism and Arminianism, Wayne Grudem is the best. Against Anchoretism and Catholicism, Hodge is the best. And since Reformed folk are leaving in droves, Hodge is the need of the hour
Edwards, Jonathan. Complete Works. Not everything Edwards said is good, and Hodge/Dabney take him to task. However, is worldview is “God-soaked” and Lloyd-Jones recommended every young pastor to read through Edwards.
Anything by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Also get the audio sermons.