SERVING THE CHURCH, REACHING THE
Essays in Honour of Don Carson
Edited by Richard Cunningham
IVP. 171 pages. £9.99
ISBN 978 1 783 595 938
Aside from the worthiness of its dedication, this will be a valuable addition to any minister’s library and required reading for anyone serious about preaching the gospel today. The editor, Richard Cunningham, has assembled an excellent, international, group of contributors whose essays are a worthy tribute to a remarkable servant of Christ and his church.
Bookend chapters by David Jackman and John Piper are highly accessible (though deeply challenging). Others are more technical, notably the late Mike Ovey on the distinction between divine and human knowledge. This chapter will repay careful reading and reflection and could become required reading for evangelical theologians. The central chapters in the book focus on apologetics. Fittingly, these chapters are irenic, persuasive and, at times, playful. For instance, Kirsty Birkett’s attempt to define apologetics leaves her wondering if there even is such a thing. These central chapters (with the notable addition of an essay by Jim Packer) address particular controversies amongst Evangelicals over Systematic Theology and ‘considered contextualisation’. These chapters render this not only a good book, but an important one. May they be thoughtfully received.
A couple of very minor niggles: John Piper’s (deeply moving) essay would benefit from more thorough use of citations, and those unfamiliar with the Lloyd-Jones/Stott debate might want to chase up references to appreciate better John Steven’s excellent discussion of gospel cooperation. These are minor points and do not detract from the pleasure of reading the book, or its value. Neither does the fact that Packer and Piper’s contributions have seen the light of day before. In this setting, new facets of both pieces become apparent. Indeed, the reworking of John Piper’s essay allows the book to end with a prophetic challenge to fruitfulness in what Don has elsewhere called ‘young old age’. We trust that Piper’s demand for ‘another 18 books’ will be well heeded!