Book Review: The God Who Is There by D. A. Carson

I have to begin by saying that I am a huge fan of Dr. Carson. He is probably my favorite public speaker and yet I’ve never seen him in person. His sermons are long, dry, and often over my head, but I absolutely love hearing him expound on the Word of God. His unique style of taking large sections of Scripture, providing the flow of thought, and connecting with the biblical context excites my hunger for the Word like no other. His attention to detail, his articulate phrasing of words, and the dryness to his humor make me smile. So I was delighted when I got the full set for The God Who Is There with the book, study guide, and DVD lectures.

Dr. D. A. Carson is the research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has written over 40 books, many of them tackling some of the most challenging issues of our day, including post-modernism. He has helped found and lead the Gospel Coalition and is a highly sought after public speaker. Many pastors and theologians consider ‘Dr. Don’ as one of their primary sources for biblical and theological accuracy.

The book, The God Who Is There, is taken from fourteen hour long lectures Dr. Carson gave in Minneapolis in 2009. Each chapter highlights a different aspect of how God is revealed to us through Scripture. With broad strokes, Dr. Carson starts with Genesis, making a case for “The God Who Made Everything” and smoothly transitions through the Scriptures making a carefully developed case for the God of the Bible.

Designed to offer a basic outline to biblical understanding, The God Who Is There develops an apologetic argument for the Christian God in a profound way. Though it wouldn’t stand the test of the most critical debater, Carson’s explanations are clear, concise, and compelling. Each chapter takes a closer examination of a different characteristic of God, which eloquently build up to chapter seven where Christ is introduced.

Some of the most profound chapters were “The God Who Legislates,” dealing with Law and the Ten Commandments, as well as “The God Who Makes His People Sing and The God who is Unfathomably Wise,” Dealing with the Psalms and wisdom literature. Dr. Carson takes a few pages to overview the whole book of Job in one of the clearest and most concise explanation of that book that I have ever read. Carson’s wisdom and breadth of understanding is only rivaled by his ability to bring truth to life and clearly depict it.

I read this book interspersed with watching a few of the lectures, which made for an interesting dynamic in appreciating the content. In reading it, I could hear Dr. Carson saying the words. Though the book was transcribed from the lectures, it does not lose his distinct voice.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. While it was designed with those who have little-to-no understanding of the Bible, I was continually captivated by how clearly Dr. Carson was able to bring the Scriptures to life. Though there were moments when my particular hermeneutic sensor went off, and there may be some areas where I wouldn’t fully track with Dr. Carson theologically, his overall explanations were not central to these points and his arguments were fair to not make definitive claims where or distinctives may cause us to differ. This book, the DVD, and the study guides would make a great resource for Churches, small groups, and non-Christians to study.

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