Book Review: The God Who Is There by D. A. Carson
Book Review: D.A. Carson, The God Who is There (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 233pp. Paperback. $16.99.
At a time when most popular Christian books are left to question, New Testament scholar D.A. Carson writes The God Who is There to strengthen the believer and educate the non-believer about the God of the Bible. Acclaimed by many hip pastors, this book is well worth the read as the research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School puts aside his weightier tasks of Biblical exegesis and takes the time to write about the story of redemption revealed in Scripture. Carson’s goal is that the reader find his “place in God’s story,” rather than making God just a part of our story.
Though Carson may simplify the grammar of redemption—ever so slightly—the reader by no means gets dumbed-down material. The book begins with the God who creates, the God of the Old Testament. Here, Carson takes the reader through many common misunderstandings about the God of Genesis and brings clarity to the muddy waters. He breaks down concepts of special and general revelation, leaning hard on Biblical passages. Carson simply explains that “God simply is,” yet He is complex. The God who spoke all into existence is a talking God. For the non-serious student of the Word and those hearing it for the first time, these can be challenging hurdles to overcome. However, Carson breaks down these truths one by one, allowing proper digestion to take place for the reader.
In continuing with his description of the character traits of God as well as this redemptive drama, Carson does not let up in educating the reader in the Bible’s covenantal structure. He explains whom God really is, against the common stereotypes of a God that actually does not exist. Breaking down these false outlooks, Carson goes on to explain that man is utterly dependent upon God and not the other way around. Using Acts 17: 25, Carson carefully lays truth to the matter that we need God though we deserve death because of the inherent nature of the Fall. We cannot be reconciled to a Holy God by our good works and we need God to vindicate us. Again, through simple but profound Biblical exegesis, Carson gets at the root of our condition and God’s character.
Working towards redemption, Carson continues on the path of the difference of general and special revelation. He addresses just how God loves in the Bible and how man’s sin affected that love as well as God’s plan to restore that love through his Son’s work on the Cross. In revealing the implications of Christ’s death and resurrection, Carson deals with justification, God’s declaring the guilty just through imputed righteousness, and man’s response in repentance and faith that is necessary for salvation. The implications of faith lead to transformation, all a part of God’s divine providence and sovereign ruling. Carson ends his book with the second coming of Christ and Revelation.
With an extensive bibliography, excellent illustrations, and concluding prayers at the end of each chapter, it is easy to recommend this book to students seeking a deeper glance into the Scriptures as well as small groups who are looking for quality literature to study. Carson’s scholarship here compares to that of his larger volume exegetical works. In agreement with Tim Keller, this book is worth the read.