9 Great Ways to Learn Reformed Theology for Free

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The Internet has made extremely cost effective ways of learning more and more abundant every year. In fact, there are several places you can learn Reformed theology without paying a dime.

Our recommendations below start you off with basic overviews that won’t take a lot of time. Our suggestions than progress into more in-depth and time consuming options for you to pursue.

#1 – Start With the Basics

If you don’t know what Reformed theology is and how it is similar and different to other Protestant systems of doctrine, the best place to start is with simple article overviews that will give you the basics.

#2 – Read the Reformed Confessions

Once you get a quick overview of Reformed Theology, you really need to read the most popular Reformed Confessions which are official doctrinal statements of belief adopted by the vast majority of Reformed churches. These doctrinal standards take precedent over any one author’s particular view of Reformed Theology.

  • The Belgic Confession (1561) – The Belgic Confession is the earliest of the Reformed Confessions and served the Reformed churches in the Netherlands in the second half of the 1500s as the area came under intense violent persecution by the Catholic King of Spain, Philip II. This confession is used by the Reformed Churches (Christian Reformed Church of North America, Reformed Church in America, Protestant Reformed Church, and others.).
  • The Second Helvetic Confession (1564) – The Second Helvetic Confession was written by Swiss theologian Heinrich Bullinger between 1562-1564 (“Helvetic” is a Latin term for “Swiss”). This confession was used by some Reformed churches in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, France, and Poland.
  • The Canons of Dordt (1618-1619) – Many understand Calvinism/the Reformed faith by the famous five points known by the acronym TULIP. What many do not know is that these points come from the Canons of Dordt and are a summary of the response of that Synod against the five major objections of the Remonstrants (Arminians) against Calvinism.
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) – The Westminster Confession of Faith was produced by the Westminster Assembly of England in 1647 at the command of the English Parliament. The Assembly was composed of ministers throughout Britain and some from continental Europe. This confession is the historical standards of Presbyterian churches and the Puritan movement in England. The WCF is probably the most well-known Reformed Confession.
  • The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) – Particular Baptists in England who had some points of difference with the Westminster Confession of Faith (i.e. the nature of covenant theology, church polity, baptism, etc.) modified that confession at points and produced their own version. In many points of doctrine, the 1689 LBCF is virtually identical with the WCF. This is the primary confession of Reformed Baptist churches.

#3 – Read Reformed Catechisms

The Reformed Catechisms were created to teach truths taught in the Reformed confessions. They are structured in question and answer format and are a great way to see how Reformed theology approaches issues of theological and practical importance.

#4 – Read a Short Book

#5 – Take a Free Course

If you are an auditory or visual learner, a pre-recorded course may be of great interest.

Take a short course designed for lay people:

  • What is Reformed Theology? (R.C. Sproul) – there is perhaps no modern figure who has introduced more people to Reformed Theology than R.C. Sproul. This short video course is about 7 hours long and covers the basics of Reformed Theology including the concepts of Scripture alone, faith alone, covenant and the typical 5 points of Calvinism (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance).

Take a seminary level course:

#6 – Read Reformed Systematic Theologies

Systematic Theologies present individual doctrines as a unified whole. If you want to go deeper in Reformed Theology, here are some options:

#7 – Read Reformed Whole-Bible Commentaries

There are several Reformed theologians who produced commentaries on the whole Bible (or in Calvin’s case, nearly the whole Bible) and are available online for free. Commentaries won’t give you the essential distinctives of Reformed theology in a systematized way like some of these other resources, but they will help you see how some influential Reformed theologians and pastors interpreted and applied key Bible verses and passages.

  • John Calvin’s Commentaries – John Calvin (1509-1564) didn’t quite get through the whole Bible but this preeminent Reformed theologian and pastor has left a treasure through his commentaries. Calvin is much more pastoral and less academic and “dry” than most people might think.
  • Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary – Matthew Henry (1662-1714) was a popular Puritan preacher and writer. His commentary has influenced countless people including preacher George Whitefield and hymn writer Charles Wesley.
  • John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – John Gill (1697-1771) was a Reformed Baptist preacher and theologian who also wrote a systematic theology along with this commentary on the whole Bible. Gill preached at a church which would later become the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle where Charles Spurgeon ministered.

#8 – Focus on Specific Aspects of Reformed Theology

After you’ve gotten all the essential doctrines down, you may want to take a deep dive into some of the distinctives of Reformed Theology in the following areas:

Covenant Theology

Regulative Principle of Worship

  • Puritan Worship & Regulative Principle (Monergism) – the Monergism web site does an excellent job of cataloguing a multitude of free Reformed Theology resources and their page on Puritan Worship and Regulative Principle provides enough material for days of reading.

#9 – Pursue an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral Degree – For Free!

You can now pursue an accredited degree in Reformed Theology for free from The North American Reformed Seminary (TNARS). The degrees are unaccredited but the educational quality is more rigorous than many accredited schools. You must have a mentor that subscribes to one of the Reformed Confessions, but you can work on the degree at your own pace and all the lectures and books are all freely available online.

If you don’t want to commit to the massive amount of work required in the TNARS course, you can always pick and choose from the free lectures and books listed in the class syllabi.

Read Next:

One central theme in Reformed Theology is the glory of God as the central purpose of all things, often summarized in the statement soli deo gloria. We connect this central theme to your purpose for existing in our article, The Meaning of Life. If you have not thought about how your life connects to the glory of God, we highly recommend you read that article.

Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim is Founder, Editor, and Author at 4Elect. He holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. Jim rejoices that God chooses insignificant people to bring glory to Himself.

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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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