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Paperback The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God Book

ISBN: 1581341261

ISBN13: 9781581341263

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

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Book Overview

At first thought, understanding the doctrine of the love of God seems simple compared to trying to fathom other doctrines like that of the Trinity or predestination. Especially since the overwhelming majority of those who believe in God view Him as a loving being. That is precisely what makes this doctrine so difficult. The only aspect of God's character the world still believes in is His love. His holiness, His sovereignty, His wrath are often rejected...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Short but Deep

Until I read this book I never would have considered that God's love was a difficult doctrine. The Trinity is a difficult doctrine to understand - impossible even. The eternal nature of God - that is another difficult or impossible one. But the love of God? I wouldn't have believed it. But having read this book I believe it now. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson is just a short book (96 pages) that is drawn from four lectures Carson delivered in 1998. There was a small amount of editing performed, but the conversational nature of the speech carries through the text. It makes for an easy read, despite some deep theology. Carson begins by outlining five reasons why this is a difficult doctrine. First, he suggests that while most people believe that God is a loving Being, this belief is set within a foundation other than Scripture. Second, many complementary truths about God are disbelieved by many within our culture (and our churches). Third, postmodernism reinforces a sentimental, syncretistic and pluralistic view of God. Fourth, the church has fallen into believing a sentimentalized version of God's love that is not consistent with God as presented in Scripture. And fifth, the church portrays this as a simple doctrine and overlooks certain important distinctions that prove this to be a difficult doctrine. From this foundation, Carson builds the book around four themes: the distortion of the love of God; the fact that God is love; God's love and God's sovereignty; and God's love and God's wrath. As we would expect from Carson, he goes straight to the source - to God's revelation of Himself in Scripture - to correct false assumptions and provide a deep discussion of what God's love entails. He defends the compatibility of seemingly-opposite characteristics of God (that God can be perfectly loving and yet perfectly just in His wrath) and examines how God's love interacts with His sovereignty in human affairs. The only caveat I would provide with this book is that it does assume some knowledge of Christian theology since it was initially targeted at seminary students. For example, Carson discusses distinctions between Calvinism and Arminianism without first defining his terms. A basic knowledge of Greek would not hurt either, though it certainly is not necessary. It is rare to find so much depth in such a short book. At the same time it is also nice to be able to learn so much without having to wade through hundreds of pages of text - this book could as easily have been hundreds or thousands of pages long. Carson does a wonderful job of highlighting the most important issues while confining himself to a limited word count. I highly recommend this book.

Brief but Excellent

As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is adapted from a series of four lectures and only 78 pages long. Carson has kept an informal tone throughout the entire book. On the downsides, I think the book assumes at least some knowledge of Greek (which was fine for me, but may not be for everyone) and his discussion of theories of the atonement was rather limited--if you don't already know what Calvinism and Arminianism are, then his discussion of that issue will probably be somewhat cryptic. However, I think these drawbacks are minor and the book is excellent and definitely well worth reading. Do yourself a favor and purchase this book.Also, this book is written by a Calvinist, and does carry Calvinistic presuppositions in places. I think this is fine (as I find Calvinism to be Biblical), but it is worth noting. The author's New Covenant Theology does not enter into the book at all, except maybe in the ABSENSE of discussion of covenants in any fashion (there is no concept of covenantal love, for example, in Carson's categorizations--really this is his fifth category, but he needed to expound on it), but this is forgiveable.

So much stuff that gives glory to God, in so few pages!

Oh what a great book! Very short you can read it in an afternoon but there is so much wisdom in the pages. Carson is not the greatest writer (in literary terms), but he always has something worthwhile to say. The basic premise of this book is great, and Carson's encouragement to see all the different forms of God's love, is crucial to our understanding of God and his love for us. The other great thing about this book (I think) is that whether a pastor, or (relatively) new Christian, or whatever this book is well worth five stars. I don't think I've read such a great 78 pages on foundational (not in the for 3 yr old sense) doctrines, often obscured by the culture we absorb and area part of.You can tell that they were adapted talks, and sometimes he assumes a little too much knowledge, or doesn't justify himself enough, but I can't think of a better 3 hours reading. And as for the previous reviewers comment about a Calvinistic presupposition in the book, it doesn't come into the book very much at all, and seeing as it is a biblical supposition it is only right that it is not excluded.Please buy this book.

Outstanding, succinct treatment of God's love

This book has only 78 pages of text, but it is worth reading and re-reading. In it, Carson carefully categorises the Bible's message about God's love. He shows how the different strands fit together. He affirms God's love for all the world and his particular love for those he has chosen. He shows how John can tell us in his gospel that God loved the world, but tells us not to in his first letter!He discusses the popular, but recent interpretation of the meaning of two Greek words used in John 21 in more detail than he did in his excellent, earlier book "Exegetical Fallacies." Since reading his argument, I have become convinced of his view that the two words do not have great differences in meaning in the New Testament (or in the Greek translation of the Old Testament). At times, Carson's writing is not easy to read, but this book is one of his most lucid.Highly recommended.
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