In light of our coming Reformation Sunday celebration at Faith Church, here is a brief suggested list of resources for the hungry soul.
(Reformation Sunday is the closest Lord's Day to October 31st, the date on which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses. Traditionally, many churches use this day to preach on the doctrines and history of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century).
Of course, these recommendations are my own opinion, only. Feel free to add your suggestions to the list in the comments below!
The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day (Justo L. Gonzalez). A very standard history textbook used in most Christian and Bible colleges still today. Readable and helpful at about a college freshman level.
For Kirk and Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox (Douglas Wilson). A pretty easy read about the life of John Knox, focusing on his character traits and faith. A brief, and light book for a first time dip into Knox's difficult age.
Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther Calvin and the Confessions (W. Robert Godfrey). Various insights - essays really - about the Reformers and their writings.
The Expository Genius of John Calvin (Steven J. Lawson). A very easy read about Calvin's preaching and sermons, for those interested in the pulpit ministry of the Genevan Reformer.
John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God (John Piper). A great (tiny!) introduction to who Calvin was and why he matters. This short book is only about 60 pages tops. You'll love it as I did.
Martin Luther (Martin Marty). This one was written by a noted liberal theologian, but it is still a very good introduction to the life of Martin Luther. Marty's liberal views don't wreck this book.
The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (John Piper). I loved this work by John Piper. Three longer essays on three important men.
Portrait of Calvin (T.H.L. Parker). This is one of the better (and brief!) biographies of John Calvin. I really appreciated Parker's attention to the main events of Calvin's life without being distracted by details.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion (John Calvin, unabridged). Obviously, this one is the longer one. It took me a year to read it through. Very much worth my time and energy though.
The Institutes of Christian Religion (John Calvin, abridged by Lane and Osborne). Abridged = shorter! This small version removes most of Calvin's polemical (argumentative) chapters against the Catholics and Anabaptists and focuses on the positive doctrine he preached and believed.