Daniel Darling interviewed D. A. Carson as part of the “Friday Five Interview” at Leadership Journal’s Out of Ur. Carson was asked a number of different questions, and I include two of those questions below.
Carson was asked about the importance of his recently published book, Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), about which I have previously commented. He notes this emphasis is important for two reasons: first, it is at the heart of the intersection between exegesis and theology; second, there are some translators who suggest we do away with divine familial language, i.e. “Son of God,” for Muslim ministry as this language is offensive to them. For other posts on this theme, see:
You recently released a book, Jesus, the Son of God. Why the emphasis on son-ship for pastors and theologians today?
The title “the Son of God” is one that is repeatedly applied to the Lord Jesus, so there is a perennial responsibility to understand it. There are two factors that make this responsibility more urgent at the present time.
First, sometimes the world of biblical interpretation and the world of systematic theology do not mesh very well. In this instance, how do we move from the various uses of “Son of God” in the Bible to the meaning of “Son of God” in Trinitarian theology? There are important ways of making the connections, but not many Christians these days have thought them through. To restore such knowledge is a stabilizing thing, and an incentive to worship.
Second, certain voices are suggesting that we can do away with “Son of God” and other familial terms in new translations for Muslim converts. In my view this is both bad linguistics and bad theology, and needs to be challenged.
In this question, Carson addresses the manner in which we give ourselves to the Scriptures to ensure, by God’s grace, that the gospel is not assumed in one generation and denied in the next. Though this question is addressed to pastors and church leaders, it is pertinent to all believers.
You’ve often said that the Church is three generations from losing the gospel entirely. What advice would you give to pastors and church leaders to ensure that this doesn’t happen?
This question is an important one, but very difficult to answer in a few lines. Read and meditate on the Scriptures constantly, and self-consciously place yourself under Scriptural authority.
Walk with epistemological humility—and that means carefully learning from Christian leaders in the past so we do not tumble into precisely the same mistakes.
Devote yourself to disciplined prayer. A prayerless person is a disaster waiting to happen.
Never stop evangelizing: it is much easier to get sloppy about the gospel if you are not proclaiming it and seeing men and women come to Christ.
Develop close attachments with a handful of trusted people who are experienced and discerning, and make time for edifying fellowship.
If you are a pastor, read widely—commentaries, theology, historical theology, devotional literature, and so forth. A pastor must be a general practitioner. One is far more likely to make mistakes of proportion and judgment where one sees oneself as a kind of specialist.
Please consider these application questions from Carson’s advice on keeping the gospel at the center.
- On what items would you agree? What would you disagree?
- From this list, what do you find most challenging and why?
- What additional advice would you give and why?
- What do you do personally to ensure the gospel remains central and the first priority in your life and ministry?
- As a pastor or leader, what is being done to ensure that the gospel of Jesus Christ is of first priority in doctrine and preaching and also in the various ministries of the church, i.e. the gospel has both a doctrinal centrality/priority and a functional centrality/priority?