Three Contemporary Classics of Theology
God, Revelation, and Authority by Carl F.H. Henry (1976, 2nd edition, 1999).
In this massive 6 volume work, Carl Henry argues that human language is capable of conveying God's revelation to mankind. He argues that when God reveals himself to human beings, he employs propositional statements that have corresponding truth-value. Henry further lays the intellectual foundation for a renewed affirmation of systematic theology and discusses the categories appropriate to that discipline, and he shows that natural theology is an inadequate basis for theology. In short, Henry's work is invaluable as a prolegommena for doing theology in our contemporary theological climate.
A Theology of the New Testament by George E. Ladd (1974, revised edition, 1993).
Though I'm not in full agreement with every aspect of this book, Ladd's exegesis and application of the already/not-yet biblical hermeneutic is both brilliant and convincing. If you want to know how to read the New Testament and understand its central themes, this book provides the proper framework from which to begin. Biblical Theology by Vos makes much the same argument, but I learned it first and best from Ladd.
The Cross of Christ by John Stott (1986). From the dustjacket, "With compelling honesty, John Stott confronts this generation with the centrality of the cross in God's redemption of th eworld - a world now haunted by the memories of Auschwitz, the pain of opression and the specter of nuclear war. Can we see triumph in tragedy, victory in shame? Why should an object of Roman distaste and Jewish disgust be the emblem of our worship and the axiom of our faith? And what does it mean for us today? Now from one of the foremost preachers and Christian leaders of our day comes theology at its readable best, a contemporary restatement of the meaning of the cross. At the cross, Stott finds the majesty and love of God disclosed, the sin and bondage of the world exposed. More than a study of the atonement, this book brings Scripture into living dialog with Christian theology and the twentieth century. What emerges is a pattern for Christian life and worship, hope and mission. Destined to be a classic study of the center of our faith, Stotts work is the product of a uniquely gifted pastor, scholar and Christian statesman. His penetrating insight, charitable scholarship and pastoral warmth are guaranteed to feed both heart and mind."
Three Lesser Known Works Everyone Should Read (Only one of these is "contemporary.")
Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen (2005). In his review of this book, Tom Ascol wrote, "In spiritually healthier times, Covenant Theology was more readily appreciated and less misunderstood than it is today. With the outright rejection of covenantalism by some Baptists and the heretical overextension of it by some Presbyterians, we can use as much help as we can get from our Protestant heritage. This volume brings together wonderful insights from two faithful church leaders of an earlier generation with helpful analyses from competent teachers of today. The result is a valuable resource for students, academics, and pastors."
Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots by J.C. Ryle (1897, reprint 2001).
Editorial review: "With his trademark candor, J.C. Ryle strips away the gaudy ornamentation that many confuse for holiness, and systematically unfolds the true beauty of what it means to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. Deep, rich, and penetrating, this timeless classic is quite simply profound. And this edition-the first unabridged edition in decades, if not since the original-includes a foreword by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and an exhaustive index of Scripture."
Who Will Be Saved: Defending the Biblical Understanding of God, Salvation, and Evangelism edited by Paul R. House and Gregory A. Thornbury (2000). Dr. Russ Moore wrote the following review of this work: "Edited by a long-respected OT theologian and a rising-star young theologian, this volume is a welcome tool for pastors and laypersons perplexed by the growing horde of "evangelicals" seeking to redefine the doctrines of God and salvation. The contributors (Carl Henry, R. Albert Mohler, D. A. Carson, et al) are unabashed in their commitment to a biblically-robust classical evangelical theology. Thornbury's concluding article contributes much to this discussion by joining his critique of "post-conservative" evangelicalism with a self-critical analysis of the theological reductionism found in some sectors of traditionalist evangelicalism. The shelf of every evangelical pastor and church leader should make room for this volume."