It’s no secret that building a quality theological library is a very expensive proposition. Compared to popular-level books, theological works come at a premium cost. But I’ve got a secret to share with you that will help kick-start any theological library: You can build an electronic library of excellent theological journals and magazines without spending a dime. These journals are full of excellent articles by top writers, scholars, and reviewers. Some are targeted at academics while others are written with a general audience in mind. There is something for everyone!
In just a moment I will give you a long list of journals and magazines that are freely available to download. Before I do that, though, you need to make sure you have an information management system that can store and search Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files. I recommend Evernote as a system that will allow you to not only store and search the files, but also to read and annotate them, though annotation may require an Evernote Premium subscription. Once you download the files you can add them to your information management system which will, in turn, allow you to search them and use them for reading or research. Click them, download them, store them, use them. It’s that simple. (Alternatively, you can just download them as you do any other file and read them that way.)
Here they are:
9Marks Journal. “9Marks exists to equip church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches.” To that end, they want to see churches characterized by nine marks of health: expositional preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, church membership, church discipline, discipleship and growth, and church leadership. The 9Marks Journal is a quarterly publication that offers topical articles and reviews of relevant books.
CCEF Now. CCEF Now is a magazine associated with the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. (They also publish the Journal of Biblical Counseling which is not a free publication.) The goal “in publishing this magazine is to encourage, equip, and inform you. As you read the articles we trust that you will be encouraged in your own walk with Christ, equipped to better serve others, and informed about the present work of CCEF.”
Credo Magazine. “Credo is a free, full-color, digital magazine that is published quarterly and includes: Articles by some of the best pastors and scholars today on the most vital and pertinent issues in Christianity; Columns engaging pastoral issues in the church and monumental figures in church history; Interviews with important pastors and scholars on both their ministries and their new books; Reviews of some of the most recent books in Christian theology and literature.”
Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry. “The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry is published biannually by The Center for Christian Family Ministry” which is associated with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The journal includes both articles and relevant book reviews.
The Journal of Global Christianity. “The Journal of Global Christianity seeks to promote international scholarship and discussion on topics related to global Christianity. The journal addresses key issues related to the mission of the Church in hope of helping those who labor for the gospel wrestle with and apply the biblical teaching on various challenging mission topics.”
The Journal of Missions and Evangelism. “The Southern Baptist Journal of Missions and Evangelism is published annually by the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. Each edition features articles by Southern Seminary faculty as well as pastors and missionaries from around the world.”
Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (JBMW) is a semi-annual, academic journal dedicated to facilitating a scholarly conversation on gender, marriage, singleness, personhood, family, and the many intersections that exist between these topics and biblical studies, church history, and systematic and practical theology.” Each issue contains a number of articles and reviews of books related to gender studies.
The Master’s Seminary Journal. “The Master’s Seminary Journal (MSJ) is a ministry of The Master’s Seminary. The purpose of MSJ is to offer scholarly yet understandable articles that uplift Jesus Christ and equip the Body of Christ to understand and apply biblical truths to their lives and ministries. MSJ is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the promotion of sound Bible teaching along with the refutation of doctrinal errors. Its primary areas of focus are Bible, theology, church history, and apologetics.”
Mid-America Journal of Theology. “The Mid-America Journal of Theology is a collection of scholarly articles and book reviews published once a year, typically in the fall [by Mid-America Reformed Seminary].”
The Midwestern Journal of Theology. “The Midwestern Journal of Theology is a scholarly journal written to assist Christians and churches in making disciples throughout the world. Published twice a year, each issue includes theological and exegetical articles, inspirational sermons, and reviews of important books.”
Puritan Reformed Journal. “The Puritan Reformed Journal (PRJ) is a biannual theological journal of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. The purpose of the PRJ is to provide the church with biblically grounded and historically informed, Reformed experimental theology. At least two things make this journal stand out. First, the PRJ seeks to minister to the whole person by instructing the mind, warming the affections towards the Triune God, and changing the lives of its readers. The premise of the journal is that all theological study should bring us into closer communion with God, greater dependence upon Christ, and the pursuit of holiness through the work of the Holy Spirit. Second, the journal seeks to minister to the church at every level. While it includes well-researched articles by respected scholars, the PRJ intentionally includes simpler and shorter articles designed to appeal to Christians of every level of growth as well.”
The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal. “Readers will find this exclusively online journal to be both scholarly and pastoral in its content and approach, reflecting the tagline of RPTS, Study Under Pastors. ‘We pray that this semiannual journal will be helpful to the church as we seek to raise up shepherds who feed the flock and minister to the souls of all who are under their care,’ notes RPTS President, Dr. Jerry O’Neill.”
The Southeastern Theological Review. “The Southeastern Theological Review is the faculty journal of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. STR is dedicated to publishing articles of high quality by young and established scholars. We desire to publish material written not only by those living inside and outside of the United States, but also by those actively involved in denominational life that extends beyond the Southern Baptist Convention. Our hope is to facilitate lively and informed conversations on a wide variety of topics of interest to Christians around the globe.”
The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. “The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology is published quarterly and features insightful articles by the faculty of Southern Seminary as well as leading evangelical scholars from around the world.”
Themelios. “Themelios is an international, evangelical, peer-reviewed theological journal that expounds and defends the historic Christian faith. Its primary audience is theological students and pastors, though scholars read it as well. Themelios began in 1975 and was operated by RTSF/UCCF in the UK, and it became a digital journal operated by The Gospel Coalition in 2008. The editorial team draws participants from across the globe as editors, essayists, and reviewers. Themelios is published three times a year.”
If you download some (or even all!) of these journals, you will very quickly have the beginnings of an incredible research library. And it won’t cost you a thing.
As a bonus, you may be interested in these publications which do not release their journals in PDF format but which do release some or all of the articles in HTML or ISSUU formats.
Covenant (ISSUU). Covenant is a quarterly publication from Covenant Theological Seminary.
Tabletalk (HTML). Tabletalk is Ligonier Ministries’ venerable monthly publication. Each month they release a selection of the issue’s articles.
Towers (HTML). Towers is a monthly magazine associated with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. All of the feature articles are available online.
Union (ISSUU). Union magazine is a brand new publication from Union School of Theology.