A Guide to Lutheran Systematic Theology Texts

I’m often asked about which systematic theology text one should start with for someone who is interested in Lutheran theology. There are a lot of these books out there, and sometimes it can be hard to navigate. I’ve tried to put together a basic guide for Lutheran texts on systematic theology.

 

Basic

Biblical Dogmatics by A.G. Voigt. This is a great introductory book. It’s very short, and yet quite comprehensive for its size. This book is a summary of Voigt’s systematic theology lectures.

Enchiridion by Martin Chemnitz. This is a short and classic work by the greatest theologian of the Lutheran tradition. It’s an excellent introduction to Lutheran theology.

Elements of Religion by Henry Eyster Jacobs. This volume is comparable to Voigt. It consists of short chapters on each major theological topic.

Called to Believe, Teach, and Confess by Steven P. Mueller. This is a more modern book than the others on this list. It’s written by professors of theology for use at Concordia College in Irvine, CA.

 

Intermediate

A Summary of the Christian Faith by Henry Eyster Jacobs. This is Jacobs’ second work of systematic theology. It’s a lot more in-depth than elements of religion, and its written in a catechetical question and answer format.

God So Loved the World: A Summary of Christian Doctrine by Lyle W. Lange. This book is extensive in its treatment, but written in a simple style, without extensive academic theological terminology. This is, in my opinion, the best modern one volume treatment of systematic theology.

Christian Dogmatics by John Theodore Mueller. This textbook is a standard for many in modern confessional Lutheranism. It’s is a condensed version of Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics.

Compend of Lutheran Theology by Leonard Hutter. This single volume was a standard theological textbook in the years following the reformation. It was translated into English by Henry Eyster Jacobs in the nineteenth century.

The Christian Faith by Joseph Stump. This is a single volume which is quite comprehensive yet highly readable. It’s highly indebted to Lutheran scholasticism.

 

Advanced

The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church by Heinrich Schmid. This book is the best one-volume summary of Lutheran scholastic theology. It is primarily a collection of quotes from the best dogmaticians of the seventeenth century.

Christian Dogmatics and Notes on the History of Dogma by Conrad Emil Lindberg. Lindberg’s book is not long, but packs a lot of theology into each chapter. This work is heavy on the use of latin, and is largely a repristination of seventeenth century dogmatics.

Christian Dogmatics by Franz Pieper. This series consists of three volumes and a large index. It’s the standard theological text at the Missouri Synod seminaries.

Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics by Adolf Hoenecke. This series is about the same size as Pieper, consisting of four volumes. It’s written by the greatest theologian to come from the Wisconsin Synod, and is very thorough and scholastic in its treatment. This is my personal favorite multivolume systematic available in English.

Loci Theologici by Martin Chemnitz. These two hefty volumes are the first Systematic theology of the post-reformation era, and are invaluable resources. Unfortunately, the English editions are somewhat incomplete.

Theological Commonplaces by Johann Gerhard. This is the most extensive dogmatics text available, and is currently in the process of being translated and released through Concordia Publishing House. Gerhard is often considered the greatest of the Lutheran scholastics.

Various texts by Revere Franklin Weidner. Weidner is one of the greatest systematicians of the nineteenth century. He released several volumes on systematic theology, though died before being able to write on the sacraments and eschatology.

Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics by various authors. This is a contemporary series with multiple authors. It’s still in the process of being written, but the volumes available are worthwhile.

 

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