We live in an age in which so many wonderful resources are available for free. Of course, with the sheer numbers being passed along here, we haven’t been able to read, let alone review all of them so, as always, be sure to use discernment. But there are certainly a good number of gems here.
The books below aren’t broken up by subject, but are, instead, divided into three categories based on whether you can easily download them, or whether some personal information might be required, or whether the book has to be read online.
This is a list of recent books, with most published in the last decade or two. Monergism.com has a list of much older titles, with most published at a minimum of 100 years ago, and many springing right out of the Reformation 500 years past. Their list amounts to more than 900 titles and can be found here.
These books are completely free and can be downloaded with minimal fuss (usually just a click and you are on your way).
John Piper seems to have released all of his books in free pdf versions, and has tackled topics as diverse as biblical manhood and womanhood, abortion, sex, retirement, C.S. Lewis, Open Theism, racism and biographies. On occasion, some of Piper’s writings are clearly directed to specifically Reformed Baptists. So, for example, in his biography of Adoniram Judson, he lauds the missionary for coming to reject infant baptism in favor of adult baptism. For the most part, however, his books are intended for a larger Reformed audience. But with so many available, what should you start with? His short biographies are excellent, each about 70 pages or so, available individually and in collections of three. We reviewed what I think was the first collection, with short biographies of Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, called The Legacy of Sovereign Joy.
One of his most popular books is Don’t Waste Your Life. An excerpt from it has been made into its own 50-page book, which we’ve reviewed: Risk is Right: Better to lose your life than to waste it.
While the majority of the books are by Piper, there are also titles by other authors and few of those seem to be free, except for a peek inside. Notable exceptions include Tony Reinke’s The Joy Project: an introduction to Calvinism, and a book he helped edit, along with his wife, called Mom Enough.
The editor of the Christian WORLD magazine has written books on journalism and how Christians should read the news (and write it), on the history of abortion and the fight against, on a Christian perspective on compassion and the government’s role in it, and even written a novel about radical Islam called Scimitar’s Edge. There is lots to love here!
I still haven’t had a chance to check these out, but plan to download Ned B. Stonehouse’s J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir.
17 Individual downloadable titles
- Social Justice: How good intentions undermine justice and the Gospel: E. Calvin Beisner is probably best known as the head of the Christian stewardship group the Cornwall Alliance. But before he started speaking on the environment, he researched and wrote a lot on poverty and economics. In this booklet, he outlines how good intentions are not only not enough, but often harmful.
- 31 days of purity: This is a 31-day devotional to encourage and challenge the Church in regard to sexual purity. With contributions from Tim Challies, David Murray, and Joel Beeke, there are some insightful, trustworthy folks behind this.
- Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?: This is an important topic for any Christian considering the pill. Randy Alcorn’s 200-page book can be downloaded for free, or, click here for a shorter overview.
- Abolition of Reason: Jonathon Van Maren, Scott Klusendorf and other “incrementalist” pro-lifers argue against “abolitionism” or “immediatism.”
- Memoirs of an ordinary pastor: The life and reflections of Tom Carson: Well-known Reformed Baptist pastor D.A. Carson on his unknown, faithful father.
- False Messages: A Guide for the Godly Bride: Aileen Challies, wife of the Reformed blogger Tim Challies, has written a booklet for women on a biblical view of sexuality (it is near the bottom of the list).
- The Holy Spirit: Kevin DeYoung with a short 30-page introduction to the Third Person of the Trinity.
- Scripture Alone: The Evangelical doctrine: In this 40-page booklet, RC Sproul does a wonderful job of defending this key Reformed doctrine.
- How should Christians approach origins?: In just 67 pages, John Byl and Tom Goss have put together an incredibly succinct overview of an incredibly important topic.
- The Divine Challenge: on matter, mind, math, & meaning: In the world’s attempts to usurp God, they’ve crafted many a worldview to try to explain things apart from Him. In this brilliant apologetic work, Dr. Byl shares the world’s best godless explanations and shows, often in the proponents’ own words, how their attempts are self-contradictory or simply fail to explain what they set out to explain. Byl also makes evident how very often these godless philosophers understand the emptiness of their best answers, and yet cling to them anyway because they hate the alternative: bowing their knee to God. This 421-page book will stretch most readers, but what a delightful bit of exercise it is!
- Lone Gunners for Jesus: Letters to Paul J. Hill (1994, 47 pages): This was written after Paul J. Hill, at one time an OPC pastor, shot an abortionist, his wife, and their bodyguard. Hill had been arguing for years that such action was biblical, and had been excommunicated for making his arguments publicly. Gary North’s response to Hill explains how his actions weren’t biblical or effective. An important book to calm Christian whose love for the unborn is in danger of being misdirected, but it is also a good read for those who, whether in ignorance or a lack of compassion, don’t stand up for the unborn at all.
- Exodus: A Novella: This is the book of Exodus, no additions or edits, but without verses, footnotes, or the usual chapter divisions. It is formatted, as the title says, like a novel, making this an intriguing way to take a fresh look at this inspired book.
- The Biblical View of Self-Esteem (1986, 36 pages): More booklet than book, author Jay Adams still manages to offers a lot of insight on this sometimes controversial topic.
- Gospel Patrons: people whose generosity changed the world (2013, 170 pages): Author John Rinehart notes, not all of us are called to these leadership positions. Many are called to supporting roles. In Gospel Patrons Rinehart tells the stories of three people who enabled Tyndale, Whitefield, and John Newton to do their work.
- Economics in One Lesson (1946, 193 pages): Economist Henry Hazlitt wrote this for the rest of us, to make the a vital aspect of economics understandable – that for every dollar the government spends, there are other projects that haven’t been done. We get to see the road that was constructed, but we don’t see that business that wasn’t started because of the taxes the entrepreneur had to pay. It is the tale of the seen vs. the unseen.
- Christian Economics in One Lesson (2015, 268 pages): Gary North wrote this to build off of, and anchor Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson in the unstated Christian foundation that made the secular best seller as true as it was.
- Time Will Run Back (1951, 368 pages): Henry Hazlitt’s dystopian novel was written at the same time as 1984 and Brave New World, and is every bit as good. At some point in the future, Communism/Socialism has won so completely that all memory of Capitalism is gone. The world ruler is dying and wants his son to learn how to run things, so he assigns him a teacher to explain the world’s economics. But the son wants to improve things. But how? Step by small step, he starts rediscovering and reinventing a free marketplace.
Classics that are as relevant as ever
- Eugenics and other evils (1922, 201 pages): André Schutten has recommended this G.K. Chesterton book for three reasons: “to learn of the historical context in which it was written, to learn what the brilliant Chesterton had to say about the subject of eugenics, and to stand amazed at his prophetic insight.”
2. Download for free, but they want some information
These books are free, but getting them will require you to give your email address, or create an account, or in some way provide them some information. But these aren’t spammers, so you can always opt out of their email lists.
In the last few years RC Sproul released a series of “Crucial Questions” booklets, all in the range of 40 to maybe 80 pages. That made them concise – something that could be read in an evening or two. And Sproul managed to pack a lot in these few pages while still keeping them readable. I will say, they still aren’t light reads, but because of their small size, if anyone is interested in the question, then they should be able to work through Sproul’s answer. I haven’t read all 39 of them, but have appreciated each of the half dozen or so I’ve read so far. They tackle questions such as:
- Can I know God’s will?
- Can I lose my salvation?
- What is baptism?
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
The e-book versions are free and will be forever. You can find for free on Kindle here, or click above to get them from Ligonier Ministries.
Covenant Eyes is a Christian Internet accountability company, and while they sell their software, their mission is to help Christian families, so they have all sorts of free booklets on topics like pornography addiction, sexual purity, online safety, cyberbullying, and more.
Individual titles (downloadable but they want your email)
- Love the least (a lot): Michael Spielman is the founder of the website Abort73.com, one of the most comprehensive pro-life websites on the Internet. And his Love the Least (A Lot) is one of the most readable, most motivating, pro-life books you could ever read.
- God and the gay Christian: a response to Matthew Vines: This is a response, by Reformed Baptist leader R. Albert Mohler Jr., to a popular book by Matthew Vines called God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Mohler has also written a short book Homosexuality and the Bible.
- A guide to adoption & orphan care: Russell Moore offers helpful advice and encouragement.
- Why sex is the best argument for creation: The folks behind the fantastic documentary Is Genesis History? have created a short 115-page e-book with ten of their most popular essays, including the title essay.
3. Read online
These books are free too but are only available to be read online. So you can’t download them, but can read them, chapter by chapter, on their website. That makes things a little more troublesome, but if the book interests you, it is a minor inconvenience.
Answers in Genesis is a creationist group with a presuppositionalist approach to apologetics, which means there is a decided Reformed influence in the group. But while all Reformed folk should be creationists, not all creationists are Reformed, so these books are not specifically Reformed. The very best is In Six Days, in which 50 scientists each take a chapter to explain why they believe in creationism. Old Earth Creationism on Trial and In the Beginning Was Information are also very good.
Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Evolution, and Refuting Evolution 2 are available for online reading here.
James White’s fantastic resource can be read for free online. Be a bit patient – it does seem to take a minute or two to load.