Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Bio: Donald Arthur (D. A.) Carson

A High View of Scripture
As already indicated, it is difficult to assign D. A. Carson a distinct place in the field of evangelical theology. He himself has great admiration and respect for the fathers of the evangelical movement in the United States, Kenneth Kantzer and Carl Henry. Indeed, he had the privilege of interviewing these two men for the video series Know Your Roots in 1991. His own scholarly career has been characterized by a significant degree of independence from other scholars’ views, a bedrock commitment to the authority of Scripture, and use of all the resources available to the modern scholar to interpret it. Carson considers a high view of the Scripture’s integrity a nonnegotiable for his own work.

At the same time, Carson is not a fundamentalist in the sense of interpreting Scripture fideistically and literalistically. He uses intelligent, detailed biblical study as the basis for theological construction and application. This general procedure was already visible in his dissertation on God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. It has been refined over the years and was further elaborated upon in his lecture on biblical theology at the 1993 meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research.

While Carson is committed to biblical theology, he does not therefore eschew systematic theology. Moreover, he is highly concerned about the contextualization of the Christian faith in the pluralistic Western world of today as well as in cross-cultural contexts.

Commitment and Ministry to the Church
For all his erudition, D. A. Carson insists that scholarship and personal faith must not be kept separate. Rather, a deep personal evangelical faith should undergird a person’s effort to search the Scriptures as diligently and penetratingly as possible. Especially commendable is Carson’s strong commitment to serve the needs of the evangelical church today. Indeed, Carson is a symbol for many that competent biblical scholarship and evangelical orthodoxy can go together. Pastors and other committed Christians can turn to his commentaries and biblical studies for help when interpreting difficult passages or confronting controversial issues.

Focus on the Gospel
What is not always understood but is nonetheless crucial for a true appraisal is that Carson, for all his scholarly writings, is first of all a minister of the gospel, not an academician. He is a gospel-centered man, not a theoretician. It appears that academia has not mastered him—he has mastered academia. Why then is Carson so deeply involved in scholarship? Doubtless he recognizes his God-given gifts and desires to be faithful to his calling. Also, Carson believes that people are built up by faithful exposition of the Scriptures and the defense of gospel. Well aware that too often liberals have held sway in the defining moments of discussion, he recognizes that the task of the evangelical is not exhausted by the assertion of truth but that it is also imperative to refute error.

Perhaps one of Carson’s greatest strengths is his ability to appreciate the merits of opposing views and to incorporate the best of both into a balanced mediating position. For example, on the issue of charismata, Carson is not a cessationist, arguing that 1 Corinthians 13 appears to preclude such a position. On the issue of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, Carson holds to “compatibilism”; on the issue of Christian assurance, Carson seeks to balance carefully the believer’s security with the biblical injunctions for perseverance in the Christian faith.

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Short biography

Don (D. A.) Carson (b. 1946) - Reformed evangelical at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His theology is similar to that of Wayne Grudem except on charismatic issues, where his view may be described as "open but cautious." Carson's tendency is to strive for balance and amicability in disputes but is uncompromising on the essentials of the faith. He is a complementarian but supports gender-neutral Bible translations. Carson also helped produce the NLT. He has written books on free will and predestination from a generally compatibilist and Calvinist perspective.

Calvary Baptist Church - Ottawa
Faith Baptist Church - Drummondville
Montclair Church - Hull
Richmond Baptist Church - Toronto

Biography links
Biography of D. A. Carson (Kostenberger)
D. A. Carson (Wikipedia)
D. A. Carson (Theopedia)
D. A. Carson Biography (Sola por Gracia)
Donald A. Carson, PhD (TEDS Faculty)


Online writings
Reflections on Salvation and Justification in the NT
"Silent in the Churches": On the Role of Women in 1 Cor 14:33b-36
Why is the Doctrine of Penal Substitution Again Coming Under Attack?

Critiques and Reviews
The Legacy of Don Carson
Detailed Analysis of Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church
Review of Christ and Culture Revisited

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