In an article in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, D.A. Carson warns against ‘word-based reductionism’:-…
In his book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (pp73-78), D.A. Carson argues as follows.
Carson begins by noting that the term ‘limited atonement’ is unfortunate. For one this, ‘it is a defensive, restrictive expression’, and for another thing, it obscures that fact that all non-universalists ‘limits’ the atonement in some way: the Arminian, by regarding it as potentially for all, but certainly effective for none; the particularist, by teaching that Christ died only for the elect.…
The authority of Scripture can be forthrightly denied; “I don’t believe that!” But, amongst Christians who claim to believe in biblical authority (including scholars, preachers and pastors) there can be more subtle types of denial.
So writes D.A. Carson in this recent piece in Themelios. What follows is a precis.
1. Appeal to selective evidence
This is clearly at work in advocates of the ‘prosperity gospel’, who cherry-pick texts that appear to support their message, while ignoring those which speak of cross-carrying and suffering with Christ. …
A foundational assumption of those who adopt some version of the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ is that Second-Temple Judaism was a not a religion of works-righteousness, but of grace. ‘Works’ were not seen as the way of meriting salvation, as has often been thought, but rather were the ‘boundary-markers’ of God’s people; the things that marked them out as belonging to him.
I have long viewed this with some suspicion. There seem to be too many instances in the Gospels when people did seek to justify themselves before God. …
The Gospels are about Jesus – his coming, his earthly ministry, his cross and resurrection. The preacher should remember this for the following reasons:-
- The early Christians did not talk about four Gospels – the Gospel of Matthew, of Mark, and so on – but about the one gospel according to Matthew, according to Mark, and so on. This approaches emphasises what they have in common (in contrast to their diversity, which is often stressed in modern scholarly circles).
How can it be possible for guilt to be transferred from one person to another? How can it be possible for Jesus Christ, the sinless one, to bear away the guilt of me, a sinner?
In his book Scandalous Don Carson reminds us of an illustration that is quite often used by preachers: a judge pronounces a guilty sentence on a criminal. Then he steps down from the bench, takes off his robes, and takes the person’s place in prison or writes out a cheque to cover the fine.…
‘Irony’ means using words which have the opposite meaning to that which is usually intended. It is a powerful device, and can sharpen up our understanding of people and events by showing us who ‘gets it’ and who ‘doesn’t get it’.
Irony is not only a verbal device. There is also ‘dramatic irony’, in which the ‘real’ meaning of an entire event may be the opposite of its assumed, or apparent, meaning.
The account of Jesus’ crucifixion as recorded in Gospel of Matthew (Mt 27:27-51) is dripping with irony. …
It would be difficult to find a more universally celebrated virtue in modern Western culture than the virtue of tolerance.
The trouble is (writes D.A. Carson) that a new (but not necessarily improved) definition of tolerance has crept up on us and is now accepted virtually without question.
According to the old definition, tolerance meant something like ‘recognition and respect for the views of others without necessarily sympathising or agreeing with them.’
According to the new definition, tolerance means something like ‘acceptance as equally true and valid the views of others.’
The difference in form may be slight, but the difference in substance is massive. …
In the following address, D.A. Carson sets out four ‘ironies of the cross’ as presented in Matthew 27:27-51.
- The man who is mocked as king, is the king.
- The man who is utterly powerless, is powerful.
- The man who can’t save himself, saves others.
- The man who cries out in despair, trusts God.
Ephesians 5:23 says: ‘The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.‘
Lawrence O. Richards argues that headship in the NT has nothing to do with authority: ‘Authority, with its right to control and demand obedience, is not suggested. The fact that the living head of the church, Jesus, is a person with supreme authority is presented to comfort and assure it of His ability to meet its needs…As head He is the source and origin of our life. …