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The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God Paperback – December 10, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books including Scandalous, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (December 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581341261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581341263
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Canada and the United Kingdom. Carson received the Bachelor of Science in chemistry from McGill University, the Master of Divinity from Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, and the Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament from the University of Cambridge. Carson is an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world. He has written or edited about sixty books. He is a founding member and currently president of The Gospel Coalition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
A thin book examining the different ways that the bible describes the love of God, Carson discusses some difficult but worthwhile material. Don't be fooled by the brevity of this book which is theologically dense and probably worth reading more than once.
Do you believe in God's grace and salvation by faith and sometimes find yourself in conflict with those who would emphasise the Christian obligation to obey God's laws? Do you believe in the justice of God, his righteousness and wrath and sometimes find yourself in conflict with those who emphasise salvation by faith, not of works? Carson describes six different ways that the bible describes God's love and shows how these seemingly different concepts can be held in productive "tension" within the Christian life
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Having read the title of this book and after reading several of Carson's other books, I was looking forward to reading this book and it did not disappoint. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

A word of caution: if you've never heard of Calvinism or Arminianism and don't know what phileo and agape are you may be lost at several points. But don't let this discourage you from reading this book.

Carson's book gave me an immense appreciation for God's love and just how difficult a doctrine it is. To learn about the different ways the Bible speaks about God's love was really amazing and caused me to marvel at the great God I serve. Do yourself a favor and read this book. And if you like it, be sure to check out his sequel: "Love in Hard Places."
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Format: Paperback
What's so difficult about the love of God? Carson makes it clear that it is partly the way that `love' is expressed in modern society (where it has been devalued to the extent that it is either completely romanticised or becomes simply a synonym for sex). On the other hand, when we talk about the `love of God' we sometimes get caught using too narrow a definition (love seen as exclusively for the elect), or too broad (love for the world being so over-emphasised that there is no room left for judgement). Carson shows that God's love, as we should expect, is more complex than that. It is consequently more important and more wonderful. This is a great book because it deals with an important topic, in sufficient depth not to be simplistic, but not in such great detail that it becomes impossible to read. Well worth buying and reading (more than once).
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