It was a few days following the celebration of the birth of our risen Savior, during the second year of being married to my beautiful bride (mother of our twin daughters, child number three is now on the way) and as is always predictable during the Christmas season, my family's conversation swung the way of Theology. At that particular time I new it wasn't going to be too far off in the distant future that my wife and I were going to start having children. This combination lead to the conviction that I needed to be sure of my understanding of theology so that I could properly instruct my family when the time came. Oh, sure, I had some grasp of it, but I wanted to be able to answer the questions of my wife and the future questions of my children. And if I didn't know the answers right then, I wanted to be sure that I'd be able to at least know where I could find the answers.
A few days later I was back at my parent's house, in my father's office, perusing the countless books on his shelves. So I asked my father, a Confessional Lutheran, "Dad, besides the Bible, 'cause that's a no-brainer, what are the next couple of books that every Christian should have?" (Now, years later, I would ask "books that every Lutheran should have?")
So here's a list of books and resources for the layperson that I have benefitted much from, as well as some other suggestions from others.
1. The Bible (duh) (ESV) (The Lutheran Study Bible)
2. Book of Concord. (I suggest 'Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions' as it as a Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord)
3. Walther's "Law and Gospel" (This book turned my world upside down, which was needed. This is a MUST-HAVE. Many thanks go to my father for making sure that this was one of the first theology books that I ever bought.)
4. Forde's "On Being a Theologian of the Cross" (Think we're doing good stuff? We're not. What makes good works good? Forde does a great job of explaining this.)
Pieper's "Christian Dogmatics"
Mueller's "Christian Dogmatics"
Horton's "Christless Christianity"
Watson's "Doctrine of Repentance" (Puritan)
Podcasts and Such:
The Great Exchange
White Horse Inn
Pastor Fisk's Suggestions (Worldview Everlasting)
Why Theology for the Layperson?
Guys, it is VERY important that we understand our theology, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of our families. As husbands and fathers God gave us a responsibility to instruct and lead our families.
As a child we did not attend a Lutheran church. We attended an evangelical one, even though my father was and still is a Confessional Lutheran. Despite that, he saw to the baptism of me and my brothers, taught me about communion and my father personally took me through the blue 1943 edition of Luther's Small Catechism and taught me the significance of 2 Timothy 2:15 to "...rightly dividing the Word of truth..." (Law and Gospel) I have Walther, Pieper, Mueller and Lenski on my shelves because of him. He's a layperson and was my first theology teacher. He taught me not in a classroom, but in his office, at our kitchen table, in our beat up truck on the way to and from the farm and in the middle of fields while fixing farm machinery. I'm saved because of Christ. I'm Lutheran because of my father. Thanks Dad.
Soli Deo Gloria