Books on Protestant theology?

Hello everyone, for those who may have not seen my other posts – I was born and raised Catholic, fully initiated into the Church with Baptism, First Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation. I drifted away from the Church in my college years, and have since been attending various Protestant denominations (everything from Mennonite Brethren to United to Lutheran to, most recently, Presbyterian) without ever really feeling “at home” anywhere.

I am seriously considering rejoining the Catholic Church, because about once a year I feel this unexplainable tug on my heart to go back. And though I often follow my heart, I am also very intellectual and analytical, so I want to make sure I am making the right decision. Of course, I am praying about this. I am reading my Bible. But I am also planning on doing some further reading. I want to read books from both the Catholic and Protestant viewpoint. The first book I am going to read is called Surprised by Truth, and it is about evangelicals converting to Catholicism. Now, I am in search of a title that would argue Protestant theology.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

“Protestantism” is pretty diverse in teachings so I’m not sure what I would recommend as specifically “Protestant Theology.” But one of my favorite non-Catholic writers is N.T. Wright - I just finished “Surprised by Hope” and got a lot out of it.

Start here: The Book of Concord

And also start with the Eastern Orthodox Church. In my opinion, out of all the non-Roman Catholic groups, these two are the closest to Catholicism in doctrine and practice. And I’ve studied all three (RCC, EOC, and the LC).

It would be worthwhile to study the Reformed view, though as a Lutheran, I have great reservations about their theology (their view of the sacraments as well as their teaching of Limited Atonement).

Don’t even bother with anything Baptistic (which is pretty much any nondenominational, evangelical church nowadays). I am not saying to avoid the people in those churches, just their teaching.

I cannot abide Reformed theology. Limited atonement is, to me, the opposite of Christ’s purpose and teaching. That makes it hard for me now – before I started really digging deep in theology, I’d found a Presbyterian church that we now attend. But I cannot reconcile myself to Calvinism. At all.

I will check out the books you recommend. Thank you! And you’re right, I will steer clear from all the Baptist stuff – a lot of my friends are evangelicals (Pentecostals, Baptists, Mennonite Brethren, etc.) and they’re all about Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, two, in my mind, false prophets who make me cringe!

I hear you. I used to be Reformed, and I’m not anymore for good reason. Still, I’m not Catholic either, yet I wouldn’t necessarily avoid reading a Catholic theologian.

I will check out the books you recommend. Thank you! And you’re right, I will steer clear from all the Baptist stuff – a lot of my friends are evangelicals (Pentecostals, Baptists, Mennonite Brethren, etc.) and they’re all about Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, two, in my mind, false prophets who make me cringe!

Lots more wrong with the baptistic groups: denial of the sacraments (though they really have sacraments of their own, of a sort); overemphasis on personal experience and subjectivity; ignorance of church history and tradition prior to the Reformation. (I’m speaking very generally here.)

It looks like you don’t have as much to study as your original post implied, since your elimination of Calvinist and Baptistic groups narrows your scope quite a bit.

Incidentally, if you can’t abide anything Reformed, why are you attending (or why did you recently attend) a Presbyterian church?

“The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals” by Gene Edward Veith.

This is a good introduction to Lutheranism, sort of a Lutheranism 101 book.

*Incidentally, if you can’t abide anything Reformed, why are you attending (or why did you recently attend) a Presbyterian church? *

I guess, in short, because I don’t want to “hurt” anyone’s feelings. I know this is a bit silly. But bear with me. I’m only 27 years old, and am in recovery from an anxiety disorder. A lot of what caused my anxiety was a lack of assertive behaviour and people-pleasing. I feel I am so far “in” this church that to leave now would cause a lot of disappointment to a lot of people.

When my husband and I were looking for a church in this town, he didn’t really have much of an opinion (he was baptised Anglican but he and his family had nothing to do with religion after that). At that time I was not comfortable with Catholicism, but also not comfortable with several other denominations. We are in a relatively small city. I tried out the Lutheran church, and liked it, but it was partnered with the United Church of Canada, a very liberal, “sure you can be homosexual, sure you can have an abortion, sure you can…” kind of place. Because both churches were so small, they shared one minister, and she was not a pleasant lady, in my experience.

The Anglican church here has a very “dry” style, and not really any other young families. So we tried the Presbyterian church and they welcomed us with open arms. This was before I studied theology… we ended up getting very involved with the church – our little girl was baptised there around this time last year – and I am even now on the roster for leading singing once a month, reading scripture once a month and teaching Sunday school once a month.

I feel like even though I can’t bring myself to agree with their theology, this church has been really good to us – visiting me after I had a minor surgery last year, things like that – and I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Lex orandi, lex credendi. I’d recommend looking at Anglican liturgical texts. The American prayer book is available for free here:

While some Episcopalians in the States are a bit nuts, the Prayer Book and it’s actual theology is fairly decent reformed Catholicism. C.f. their basic understanding of the Christian commitment with regard to Baptism:

The personal touch …

I was baptised Presbyterian, but not through sincere motives. My father was Catholic, but lost his faith. As an act of rebellion, he had me baptised Presbyterian. My younger sister wasn’t baptised at all, so in a family of four we had an unbelieving bad-tempered, vindictive Catholic (father), non-practising but very ethical Anglican (mother), Presbyterian son (me) who later dabbled in atheism, and a non-baptised daughter with a rebellious streak (I can’t blame her considering what my father was like), but who later got herself baptised (fortunately as she died in 2005).

A bit like a microcosm of the modern West.

However when I did become a Christian at the age of 28, I initially headed towards the Presbyterian Church as I did have some Sunday school experience from my younger years, and I also felt a spiritual push in that direction at the time. I met the resident pastor and his family (I think God wanted me to meet the pastor in particular as I learnt a lot from him) and an agreeable group of young people. I enjoyed that church more than any other to date, and the ‘personal touch’ was the reason, even if don’t agree with their theology these days.

So I can understand where you’re coming from.

However the ultimate test is “TRUTH”.

Michael Horton - The Christian Faith

The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, Louis Bouyer

Reviewed here…

I can’t think of any genuinely and distinctly protestant sources for theological reading that I’d recommend. “Knowing God” by Packer comes to mind, but it’s been years and when I read it I was fresh out of being immersed in an anti-Catholic reformed protestant environment and reacted rather harshly to anything that smacked of it. I mention that since it colors my perception and I can’t say if Packer this far removed if Packer was genuinely hostile to Catholicism or if I just perceived him that way at the time.

But perhaps a really important lesson I learned in that time is the value of being able to separate people from the theological ideas that influence, but don’t define or control them. It struck me that you might be dealing with that right now by finding Calvin-flavored evangelicalism repugnant while still finding the people in your church loving and lovable. People still retain much of the image and likeness of God, in spite of all our sins, all our stubbornly proud ideologies and our pride. Same reason you can find so many lovable muslims, agnostics, etc.

And if you’re feeling light hearted - I highly recommend the “Lutheran Satire” youtube channel where they “teach the faith by making fun of stuff”

Some of their stuff is really side-splitting like the Joel Osteen tweets read by Christian Martyrs.

On a serious note, to echo the previous posts, I know the Lutheran Confessions have brought comfort to several of my Catholic friends who are very intellectual - even Pope Benedict XVI thought that the Augsburg Confession that contained in the Confessions could potentially be considered a ‘Catholic’ document. - it’s an old document, and a bit dry, but it’s full of the Law and Gospel.

That’s the Eucharist.

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John Paul Jackson helps in dream interpretation, as people get more clarity and confirmation on what God -Who loves and cares about them- was speaking to them in their ‘night parables’.

Michael Rood- what is the mikveh (baptism)

The writer of “The Epistle to the Messianic Hebrews” challenges the believers to leave behind the foundational principles of faith in Messiah, and to press on to maturity. Once the foundations of the faith have been laid firmly and the “milk” of the word has strengthened us, it is time for some real meat. One of the foundations of faith listed in Hebrews is “the doctrine of baptisms” (plural), yet in the Christian world very little is known about baptism. What is known is filtered through a Greek mind-set and ignorance of the Hebrew practice of the “mikveh” from which “baptism” is loosely translated.

The book you are reading will have a lot of what the converts believed before their conversions.
Unlike some fallen away Catholics, (who sometimes can only criticize the Catholic Church),
they give you a good perspective of the teachings they believed on their journeys.
For example, if you read Scott and Kimberly Hanh’s "Rome Sweet Home"they go into their
prior beliefs without rancor. Steve Ray’s website ( also has his story
as well as countless others of different backgrounds.

*Basic Christianity *by John Stott

I really enjoyed Louis Tarsitano’s An Outline of an Anglican Life. The problem is the Episcopal Church doesn’t seem to resemble Tarsitano’s descriptions.



Nor does it resemble Hall’s 10 vol. DOGMATIC THEOLOGY.


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