Archives For D.A. Carson

If you are a parent of younger children then you make decisions every day about what they are exposed to. The concern is, of course, over influence. We know that certain things (movies, music, video games, friends, etc) are impactful. These outlets can shape they way they see and experience the world. Therefore we are intentionally selective about what they see.

Pastors do a similar thing in their preaching. They look at the context and culture of their church and decide what is best in terms of exposure. They set the preaching schedule, cadence, and style off of it. As a result one of the first things that gets shifted is the depth of the sermon. The pastor (with good motives, I’d assume) keeps the content at a relatively surface level for his people to keep up and tune in.

I believe that while this is helpful in parenting and counterproductive in preaching.

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ezra nehemiah emmaus bible church

Preachers love to preach. We love to dive down deep, mining God’s Word for glorious, eternal treasures and then to swim back up to the service, sharing them with our church each week. But sometimes we get a little preacher’s cramp in so far as what to preach next. After preaching through Ezra and Nehemiah, I am thoroughly convinced that pastors, in particular church planting pastors, should prayerfully consider preaching through these books.

Here are some reasons…

New Beginnings: Ezra starts out with the people of God in Babylon. Within a verse or two God is strirring the heart of a pagan King (Cyrus) to send his people back to Israel to rebuild the temple and reestablish the covenant community. It is time for a new day. In particulur for a church plant this helps to show how God works in people and communities to build something new.

Idolatry: The books are repleat with examples of what idolatry is. Everywhere from the neglegence of the weak in Nehemiah 8 to the ignorance of the Sabbath in order to make wine in Nehemiah 13, God shows how the elevation of good things to ultimate things is actually a replacement of what is ultimate, namely the worship and adoration of the Lord God. This primes the pump for a crucial discussion on idolatry.

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Biblically faithful Christianity does not present itself as a nice religious structure that makes happier parents and well-ordered children and good taxpaying citizens. It may produce better parents and taxpaying citizens, but the issues at stake in biblical Christianity have to do with eternity: heaven and hell, matters of the utmost significance, your relationship to your Maker, what God has provided in Christ, what the cross is about, the resurrection.

At the end of the day, what hell measures is how much Christ paid for those who escape hell. The measure of his torment (in ways I do not pretend to begin to understand) as the God-man is the measure of torment that we deserve and he bore. And if you see that and believe it, you will find it difficult to contemplate the cross for very long without tears.

–D.A. Carson The God who is There (Amazon -  Westminster)

During our most recent ReNew Conference I was able to commandeer Dr. D.A. Carson in between sessions. A selfish little request made possible by our conference director. A request I make every time he’s with us. I am never disappointed in these moments and he is always graciously and sincerely obliging. So much was running through my hard drive afterwards I though I’d better write some of it down. Here are some takeaways.

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When I think about contemporary evangelical leaders and their impact on the church I can scarcely think of two more prominent figures than D.A. Carson and John Piper. Both have a multi-generational, expanding swath of reach. They seem to be getting better and stronger with age.

For me personally, I can sometimes hear these men over my shoulder banging the drum of the beauty and supremacy of Jesus and his gospel. I love that about them.

This is why it is always interesting to hear them talk. In this occassion they are talking about the roles of pastor and scholar. In particular the way the pastor should be a scholar and the scholar a pastor. The book here puts in print an evening with Carson and Piper following the 2009 Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago. I was in attendence that night and listened carefully as Drs Piper and Carson talked about their respective paths in ministry. It was encouraging, refreshing and interesting.

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I love this video from Dr DA Carson. It is so helpful and clear. I praise God for men like this who help boneheads like me to be more clear.

Biblically faithful Christianity does not present itself as a nice religious structure that makes happier parents and well-ordered children and good taxpaying citizens. It may produce better parents and taxpaying citizens, but the issues at stake in biblical Christianity have to do with eternity: heaven and hell, matters of the utmost significance, your relationship to your Maker, what God has provided in Christ, what the cross is about, the resurrection.

At the end of the day, what hell measures is how much Christ paid for those who escape hell. The measure of his torment (in ways I do not pretend to begin to understand) as the God-man is the measure of torment that we deserve and he bore. And if you see that and believe it, you will find it difficult to contemplate the cross for very long without tears.

–D.A. Carson The God who is There (Amazon -  Westminster)

Blogging is a strange thing. You write your thoughts down. Sometimes people read them. Sometimes people comment. Sometimes people email you. Over time, if you have struck a chord, you get some traction. More people are reading, commenting, linking, emailing, etc. The blog grows.

I was largely unaware of this whole process back in early 2006. My senior pastor and boss told me to write. So I did. He also told me to impact people with the gospel. And so I tried to. I would meet with guys and talk about what I was learning in the Scriptures. We would talk about the gospel and how we need to be more impressed with Jesus. I repeated myself often to these guys. They seemed to like it. So, in listening to Pat (my boss, mentor, & senior pastor) I wrote. My goal was to encourage these guys. I picked a funny moniker for the site, “Irish Calvinist”. This is funny because I am not from Ireland. I am from Massachusetts. In fact it is only my father’s side that is Irish (my mom is Polish—but, the jokes would be just too easy there).

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I was reading through D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation again yesterday and came across this gem. In the chapter he is wrestling with prayer and the sovereignty of God. He is so helpful in his clear headed reasoning. You end up wanting to pray.

The perverse and the unbeliever will appeal to God’s sovereignty to urge the futility of prayer in a determined universe; they will appeal to passages depicting God as a person (including those that speak of him relenting) to infer that he is weak, fickle, and impotent, once again concluding that it is useless to pray.

But the faithful will insist that, properly handled, both God’s sovereignty and his personhood become reasons for more prayer, not reasons for abandoning prayer.

It is worth praying to a sovereign God because he is free and can take action as he wills; it is worth praying to a personal God because he hears, responds, and acts on behalf of his people, not according to the blind rigidities of inexorable fate. — D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p. 165

The doctrine of the Scripture is one subject that will need to be defended, clarified, and reaffirmed in every generation. And this current generation is no different.

Thankfully we have many teachers who have devoted their entire lives to clarifying and defending the Scriptures. In our current generation D.A. Carson has been greatly used by God to this end. As a seminary professor, author, and pastor, Dr Carson has been a great gift to the church. And thankfully, he keeps on giving.

In a new book entitled Collected Writings on Scripture Carson has written a book that will no doubt help to strengthen believers in the orthodox understanding of the Bible. The book has two parts. First, Carson starts with the basics. He helps us to understand how to approach the Bible. He then moves onto survey the often murkey and confusing waters of scholarly debate centering on the Bible. He weighs in and interacts with the arguments and helps the reader better appreciate the nature, authority, and consistent interpretation of the Bible.

In the second half of the book Carson “presents critical reviews of nine books dealing with the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Carson’s reviews are serious works of scholarship, but are also accessibly written for those who are newer to the debates surrounding biblical inspiration and authority.” (from the introduction)

Who should read this book? Certainly scholars and pastors. It is really a gift in terms of cataloging the debate and replanting the orthodox flag in contemporary soil. But all students of the Bible should feel comfortable reading this work. It is not too heavy for you to carefully work through.

How should you read this book? Perhaps a little bit at a time. If you are looking to study this topic in depth and are carving out a bit of reading time, then you may jam through it without issue. However, if you are trying to ‘get your feet wet’ so to speak, in what is going on in this area, you may want to work your way through a bit slower, and more reflectively, taking notes and organizing thoughts in a more detailed way. But, wherever you find yourself, you will no doubt be blessed by the hard work from the pen of Dr Carson.

>>Discounted copies are available at the following sponsors of this site: AmazonWestminster,  CBD as well as at the Kindle Store.

Here are a few endorsements:

“D. A. Carson is for this generation what B. B. Warfield was for his—the scholarly stalwart for the doctrine of Scripture, possessed of prodigious skills both as an interpreter of Scripture and as a biblical and systematic theologian, critically engaging the most significant arguments of the day and upholding the historic position of the Christian church and the Bible’s own self-attestation. Everything that comes from his pen is worthy of careful attention. Given the current state of the doctrine of Scripture (in theory and practice) in evangelical academia, this is an important and timely volume. Seminarians and pastors alike need to be abreast of present trends in this vital subject. The classic essays and critical reviews in this book offer a bird’s-eye view of the past thirty years of the discussion, as well as world-class scholarship and discernment in articulating rejoinders to sub-biblical theories while positively presenting a faithful view of the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures and their entailments.”
J. Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi; President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

“With tedious regularity, the doctrine of Scripture comes under attack again and again, and while many of the arguments used are familiar and hackneyed, each generation adds its own twists and turns to the cries of criticism. Thankfully, the church has always had eloquent defenders of the truthfulness of the Scriptures and of the God who inspired them. In our time, Don Carson is one such figure; and in this volume, the reader will find many of his most significant essays on Scripture. Scholarly, reverent, carefully argued, and generously footnoted, these pieces all make important contributions to current debates; and taken as a whole, they admirably expose the problems of the revisionism offered by certain voices within the church while pointing readers to a better way.”
Carl R. Trueman, Academic Dean and Vice President, Westminster Theological Seminary

“I’ve always admired Don Carson’s ability to minister so effectively in two different worlds. On the one hand, he’s one of the sharpest-thinking, best-respected minds in the realm of New Testament scholarship. On the other, he’s one of the clearest, most down-to-earth preachers I’ve ever heard. He simply has a remarkable ability both to grasp and to communicate complex issues understandably. This collection is a classic demonstration of that ability.”
Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Senior Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Heresy of Orthodoxy

Erik Raymond —  September 9, 2010

This book is great so far. I am intrigued by the cultural chatter that I hear and read. And I am thankful that Kruger & Kostenbarger have worked hard to identify and interact with this increasingly prevalent argument against historic Christianity. Bart Ehrman and his ilk seem to be multiplying in our day.

In picking up this book, I read what I believe is the best book endorsement I have ever come across.

“In the beginning was Diversity. And the Diversity was with God, and the Diversity was God. Without Diversity was nothing made that was made. And it came to pass that nasty old ‘orthodox’ people narrowed down diversity and finally squeezed it out, dismissing it as heresy. But in the fullness of time (which is of course our time), Diversity rose up and smote orthodoxy hip and thigh. Now, praise be, the only heresy is orthodoxy. As widely and as unthinkingly accepted as this reconstruction is, it is historical nonsense: the emperor has no clothes. I am grateful to Andreas Köstenberger and Michael Kruger for patiently, carefully, and politely exposing this shameful nakedness for what it is.”

—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

That is pretty much a walk off home run as far as endorsements go. If you are looking to learn more about and interact with this subject I recommend The Heresy of Orthodoxy. Amazon or Westminster Bookstore

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This is a great answer to a very tough question. I really appreciate how Dr Carson acknowledges the tension and the difficulty and then works through what has been revealed in the Scripture. Ultimately, his (our) standing place is at the solid footing of Calvary.

“When I don’t have all the answers I return again to the cross. And there I see the God-Man (JESUS) suffering and dying on my behalf. I can worship and trust a God like that.”

How can God allow suffering and evil in the world? (feed readers may have to click thru to the site to watch) from A Passion for Life on Vimeo.

Note: Dr Carson answers the question more exhaustively in his book, How Long O Lord: Reflections on Evil and Suffering (I highly recommend this book!)

(ht: Tim)

“I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel please.” (D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers, an exposition of Philippians), pp.12-13.

Once again sarcasm makes a great point and here even with a French-Canadian accent. Too often, in effort to maintain a semblance of autonomy, we become man-centered in our view of the gospel trying to mitigate the powerful transformation that comes through the God-centered gospel of Jesus. The gospel truly is radical. It makes radical sinners radical Christians.

One of the endorsements for this book says the following: “What happens when one of the world’s preeminent theologians expounds on some of the Bible’s prominent texts? This book.”

I think this about sums it up.

Scandalous is a collection of sermons given by D.A. Carson at a recent Resurgence conference. As the subtitle would suggest, they all focus upon the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

This is so important because as Christians everything pivots upon the historical reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Without this there is no Christianity. There is no hope. There is nothing.

And it is here that Carson is so helpful. He is as engaging as he is expositional. He helps us to see and value the greatness of Christ. We find ourselves again and again coming to have greater confidence in the Scriptures and greater love for and devotion to the Savior. And this is really where the book is so helpful; it is not a mere collection of exegetical notes, historical commentary, and theological proof texts. It is instead a devotional unpacking of each of the passages that cause you to be humbled and happy in Christ. In other words, the sermons hit your heart as well as your head, if I may make the distinction.

Here are the chapters:

The Ironies of the Cross (Matthew 27.27-51

The Center of the Whole Bible (Romans 3.21-26)

The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb (Revelation 12)

A Miracle Full of Surprises (John 11.1-53)

Doubting the Resurrection of Jesus (John 20.24-31)

I personally have heard many of these sermons, some multiple times. However, I am thankful for the folks at Crossway and Re: Lit for putting this together in a book format. So often we hear a sermon that would be helpful later on but do not ‘put it on our bookshelf’ so to speak. Here in this volume we have the sermons bound and ready for future reference. Good stuff indeed.

I have noticed that Dr Carson seems to have a bit of a broad range of popularity. What I mean is that there are folks who are not necessarily Reformed in their soteriology but still they like him. This would be a good book to get folks who may not be emphasizing that which of first importance. Like a bag of french fries this book drips the gospel. It is very helpful if this is your agenda.

Discounted copies are available from our friends at Westminster or Amazon.

I am really enjoying the collection of sermons preached by D.A. Carson at a recent Resurgence conference. Crossway has compiled them into a book entitled Scandalous for our easy reference and benefit. This quote is from a sermon on Revelation 12. It is dealing here specifically of believers (the church) overcoming the evil one via the powerful work of Christ.

The great redemptive act that freed them from their sins (Rev 1:5) and established their right to reign as priest and kings (Rev. 5:9) is also what gives them authority over Satan and enables them to overcome Satan and all of his accusations (Rev. 12:11). Satan accuses Christians day and night. It is not just that he will work on our conscience to make us feel as dirty, guilty, defeated, destroyed, weak, and ugly as he possibly can; it is something worse: his entire ploy in the past is to accuse us before God day and night, bringing charges against us that we know we can never answer before the majesty of God’s holiness. What can we say in response? Will our defense be, ‘Oh, I’m not that bad!’? You will never beat Satan that way. Never. What you must say is, ‘Satan, I’m even worse than you think, but God loves me anyway. He has accepted me because of the blood of the Lamb.’ —D.A. Carson (Scandalous, pp. 98-99)


“If what is being built is the church of God, the only possible foundation is Jesus Christ, or, more fully, ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified,’ to use the expression of (1 Cor) 2.2.  Paul is still thinking of the exclusive power, wisdom, and authority bound up with the gospel.  If anyone tries to lay down some other foundation, then it must be fore some other building.  It is certainly not the church that will rise on any competing foundation.” -D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, p. 79

This is good news.  I read this today from the Crossway blog:

The Gospel Coalition has uploaded and organized 443 audio sermons and lectures by D. A. Carson.

Andy Naselli expresses the value of this goldmine:

I’d highly recommend that you redeem the time and systematically and thoughtfully listen to these MP3s. I have profited immensely from them. Carson’s manner of speaking is just as articulate, thoughtful, and engaging as his publications. He exalts Christ by exegeting his words, tracing themes through the Bible’s salvation-historical storyline, addressing hot topics with clarity and nuance, and engaging and confronting bad theology as well as the culture.

Browse through the available audio teaching at The Gospel Coalition website.

O’ the value of technology to trumpet the greatness of God to the church and the world!

This past weekend’s conference at Omaha Bible Church with D.A. Carson was a tremendous blessing on so many levels. When we were planning the conference we had prayed that the churches in the local area would be strengthened through a more biblically faithful understanding of suffering. By God’s abundant grace these prayers have been answered.

Dr Carson spoke 3 times on Saturday on the topic of Making Sense of Suffering. The messages were not stand alone but rather they built upon each other. Carson gave us 6 theological pillars for understanding suffering. Carson helped us to see suffering from the view of the beginning (Genesis) and the end (Revelation). He also did not spare a healthy and hearty explanation of how the gospel is at the very heart of understanding suffering. Overall, it was, in my somewhat bias view, one of the best conferences I have been to.

Audio to three sessions:

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 1

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 2

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 3

Also the audio from Sunday am at OBC:

Gospel Reflections on Trials and Suffering

Carson is obviously in another stratosphere intellectually. However, he is so good at explaining things so that some of the new believers I spoke to were easily tracking, as well as many of our young people. Further, Carson was regularly seen throughout the day chatting with folks who wanted to interact a bit with what he was teaching. This intimacy is what made this conference special. Our auditorium can hold about 500 people, there were about that many there. In addition we had another 100-150 or so kids who were being tended to and taught with our children’s ministry.  Many thanks to all of those who made it a picnic and ate outside in the parking lot.

After the general sessions Carson taught a session on Biblical Theology in Ministry. This session was well attended by many pastors from around the local area. No doubt God will be pleased to bless this session in the ministry of many.

Audio for the Pastor’s Seminar:

Preaching and Biblical Theology

On a personal note, I was encouraged to meet many folks who are not from OBC who read this blog. I am thankful that we were able to talk and find encouragement that there are many different ministries here in the Midwest that are faithfully standing firm in and for the gospel.

You may see more photos from the conference by going to this FLCKR page. Many thanks to Angie Gottsch and here willingness to shoot the day for us.

Here is the audio for the conference from Dr. Carson at Omaha Bible Church this weekend. I will post some more thoughts and pictures when I get a chance. In the meantime, enjoy these delicious messages.

In addition, here is the audio from the pastors’ seminar in the afternoon.  This is well worth your listen as well.

Preaching and Biblical Theology (Pastor’s Session)
Listen –   Download (17MB)
**Update** I consolodated info from the conference here…thanks!!

To say that I am a little bit excited this weekend about having D.A. Carson come to OBC is an understatement. Dr Carson has been such an influential teacher and thinker for so many of us and we are truly thrilled to have him join us at OBC this weekend as he unpacks how to Make Sense of Suffering. Dr Carson will also be teaching a seminar for pastors and church leaders at the conclusion of the conference. If you are attending and are a pastor, make plans to get your sermon done today and stick around tomorrow. (more info on conference)

Based upon the pre-registration numbers we are looking at a near capacity crowd. This is a good thing. Thankfully the weather forecast appears to sunny and autumnal, which will be perfect as we accommodate the high numbers and move a couple of hundred folks outside for our lunch (think picnic).

If you have not registered yet, please just show up. We do have room available in the auditorium for the general sessions with Dr Carson. I plan to have a link to the audio up by early next week.

Also, if you are coming in from out of town make sure to come up and say hello tomorrow. It is always so encouraging to meet folks from around the Midwest who love Christ and his gospel.