For this top five, I want to share five books referenced in Is There Anything Good About Hell? which could help establish a younger or less mature believer in some deeper theological thinking. None of these are about hell or punishment itself and I have deliberately not included longer works: systematic theologies, commentaries, or other reference-type works. I also ruled out sermon compilations, or larger collated works (no Jonathan Edwards or Charnock here). If when you think of theological books, you are a toe-dipper, think of this top five as the moment you take a breath and submerge under the water. It may take a moment to acclimatize, but when you do it will be so much better!
The Pleasures of God.
Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000.
In my view, the most important book John Piper has written. Desiring God was more impactful at a crucial point in my life, but Pleasures of God is deeper and more foundational. If you only read one John Piper book in your life, this is the one.
Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest?
Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2013.
This small little book, with a terribly unattractive title (yes- I've told this to Jones personally), is phenomenal. The chapter on justification was supremely helpful in confirming what I was seeing in scripture, and corrects overly-simplistic and erroneous views among some Reformed preachers. Mark Jones is a gifted young theologian and a fellow Vancouverite. He deserves to be widely read.
Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (Editors)
Fallen: A Theology of Sin
Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.
The doctrine of sin may be one of the most under-studied, under-emphasized doctrines in modern Christianity. It is crucial to understand from a personal and pastoral standpoint and this book is about as good of a start on the doctrine as you are likely to find. It contains contributions by D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo and the dynamic duo of Morgan and Peterson edit the whole.
D. A. Carson
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000.
Carson comes in for another mention--this time an extremely short book from one of our day's best theologians (and fellow Canadian). But the theme is crucial and if we do not understand the breadth, but also important distinctions, in the love of God, we will fall into error in a host of other areas (like say, the doctrine of hell).
Knowing and the Trinity.
Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2018.
I may be stretching my criteria just a bit here, as this book only gets a mention in a footnote on John Frame's triadic system of thinking which he calls triperspectivalism. Frame's Doctrine of God was probably one of the first significant theological works I ever read, and his system of thinking has pervaded my thoughts ever since. Frame's good friend, Poythress applies triperspectivalism and the doctrine of the Trinity to a number of different areas of thinking and the results are scintillating, if a bit heady. This might not be a book you will fully comprehend, but it is a book that will certainly expand your view of the Triune God and His world.