The Cross & Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson (Book Review)

Recently I signed up to be a “Baker Books Blogger”  Of course I did it for the opportunity to receive free books.  I love books!  And I have a blog, so the relationship is perfect.

The first book I selected was The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons From 1 Corinthians, by D. A. Carson.  Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The God Who Is There and How Long, O Lord?  He is one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition and an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world.

Needless to say, I’m a bit intimidated to be “reviewing” something he wrote.  What was I thinking in choosing this book?  Well, I’ll tell you…I love theology and doctrine and I want to learn.  Sometimes when reading (speaking of myself of course), we choose light and easy reads that simply affirm what we already are convinced of.  We avoid those things that might make us work for the reward of knowledge and understanding.  I think that’s why a lot of professing Christians do not read their Bibles very much.  You have to think.  You have to ponder.  You have to chew the meat, so to speak!

I used my entire 60 day allowance to read the book and post a review (those easy reads were more attractive in the half hour before bed that I spend reading), but I’m so glad I finally took the challenge and read the book.  It’s written toward Christian leaders (pastors, etc.), but has a great message for all who believe.  Essentially, we must make the cross central to our lives.  Carson expounds verse by verse on several chapters in 1 Corinthians.  His writing style is academic, but not over your head.  If you want some spiritual food to nourish you, this is a good one.

Below is the actual review that I posted.  You can get your own copy of the book here. I was not paid for this review (other than getting the book free).  All opinions are my own.

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Review – The Cross & Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons From 1 Corinthians by D.A. Carson

“Is there anything more important than learning to think God’s thoughts after Him?”

This is the question Carson poses at the end of the Preface, and I think it is a great one.  It tells you that the book you are about to read is not going to be a simple glass of spiritual milk, for God’s thoughts are far higher than ours.  The book is not long (156 pages) but contains theological truths that you must read carefully and ponder deeply if you want to learn.  Other than reading his blogs, this was my first experience with Carson; I was prepared for theology (and wanted it), and he did not disappoint.  However, it’s not dry theology that remains in the textbook.

The focus is the centrality of the cross, and its power not only to redeem us, but its influence on every part of our ministry.  One nugget keeps bouncing around in my mind, that of the contrast of the apparent weakness of the cross (Jesus died at the hands of sinful men), yet it accomplished salvation for mankind.  In what we see as weak, God has hidden life-changing strength.  What we deem wise, God sees as foolish, and in what appears foolishness (the preaching of the cross), His wisdom is revealed.

This book brings us back to the importance of the pure gospel, and the necessity of allowing the cross to remain central in all we do and say.  It calls us to forsake dressing Jesus up so that He is attractive to our culture, but return to a passionate commitment to speak, preach and live the cross, which is the only thing that has the power to save.

 

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