I thought this might be helpful. I was considering the other day which books, after the Bible, I most often go back to (either for ministry or for personal growth), and I’m pretty sure it’d be these three.
1) Historical Theology, by Gregg Allison.
A great book, and a companion to Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. This one takes the same format as Mr. Grudem’s, giving a chapter on each major doctrine of the Christian faith. But instead of outlining different views on each doctrine, it attempts to explain how the doctrine was approached in succeeding eras in Christian history. So when I want to know what the common take on baptism in the pre-reformation era was, or what was being taught about church structure in the Middle Ages, this is the first book I usually go to. Great format, very readable.
2) The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, by Leo Donald Davis
This book is extremely helpful for historical information about Athanasius, Arius, Constantine, Cyril, and many other early Christian theologians, church fathers, heretics, and kings. It covers the period of the first seven “Ecumenical” church councils, which is about A.D. 300 to about A.D. 800. I’ve found it invaluable as a history of theology; I do not refer to it for theology itself, however, since Mr. Davis was a Roman Catholic priest. I would never recommend it for personal worship or anything like that, but the book isn’t written to proclaim the Gospel. It’s essentially telling 7 stories about historical Christian theologians and contributors, and giving a wealth of information about them as it does. It is a treasure trove for the pure history of Christian Christology.
3) Commentary On the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by G.K Beale and D.A. Carson
This book is probably a tad more academic than the first two, but it’s very helpful if you’re preaching any New Testament passage. For each New Testament book an author outlines all of the quotations and echoes of Old Testament passages. Very useful for preachers.
*I’m going to cheat and add one more. I forgot about a book that I go back to again and again to help me repent of sinful anger, and I didn’t feel like having to delete one of the first three.
Or maybe I was just too angry to ; )
Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones.